Joe Budden: Mood Muzik 4 (A Turn 4 The Worst) [Album Review]

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“Music is just what feelings sound like.”

No truer words have been spoken then by Joe Budden on album opener ‘Hiatus’, then presented on Mood Muzik 3. Merely music for some, Regular Joe has taken the concept of a song and presented life lessons through his own past experiences while also exercising demons via his very own catharsis. His latest therapy session begins with the intro ‘Pray For Them’, painting a melancholy canvas with his trademark, self-reflective lyrics as the self-proclaimed “man without a care, roommate to heartache, neighbor to despair” (‘Intro’). Producer Fliccs offers a hard hitting, Rocky-sampling instrumental for ‘Aftermath’ as Budden offers a lyrical spar session, pummeling the track with punchline after punchline.

What makes Joe Budden’s Mood Muzik releases the premier “mixtape” projects is the brutal honesty and emotion shared as well as the introspective viewpoints of real life issues. Take ‘Role Reversal’, for example: an in-depth account of the back-and-forth conflict Joe faces as a stepfather playing father to another man’s child. The rock-tinged ‘1,000 Faces’ echoes the tale of ruined relationships due to personality changes in our surroundings, thrust by an absolutely epic Creed sample. True to form, Mouse touches on broken, past relationships with ‘No Idea’ as well as ‘Inseparable’, but it is MeLa Machinko who takes the latter to enormous heights with a gorgeous turn on the chorus:

“We will never be apart
It’s like two bodies, living with one heart
Together like a lock and key
Without you, there is no me
Days will never be the same
If you weren’t here with me, I couldn’t see
Living another day, wherever you’re gone
You know that I’m going with you…”

Slaughterhouse, Budden’s lyrical group-mates, also accompany the Jersey lyricist on the last installment of MM, albeit on separate tracks. Joell Ortiz delivers arguably the premier verse of the project as he and Joe each have their own conversation with God on ‘Follow Your Lead’. Crooked I joins Joe Budden to cripple a Cardim instrumental on ‘Sober Up’ while Royce Da 5’9” crashes the underwhelming posse cut ‘Remember The Titans’ with Lloyd Banks and Fabolous. With four featured lyrical wordsmiths, only Budden and Royce show up to effectively toe tag the record with Fabolous easily turning in the corniest verse.

As “hip hop’s version of Mary J. Blige”, fans take pleasure in seeing the hardships of Joe Budden as they know it will make for more of his brutally, heartfelt lyrics. Outside of a weak hook here and there (‘Come Along’ comes to mind), MM4 makes for an incredibly intense listen and throughout, it is simple to notice the parallels between him and the late Tupac Shakur (who heavily influenced the project). From self-examination on the exceptionally thematic ‘Black Cloud’ to acceptance on ‘Follow My Lead’, Budden allows a glance into the life of one of hip hop’s tortured artists through a collection of records, his very own brand of audio heroin and proof he’s pound for pound, the most gifted lyricist out there.

4.5 spins (out of 5)

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