In hip-hop media, few people have such an innate understanding of unique selling points than Joe Budden. Freed from the constraints of news values or journalistic objectivity, the self-proclaimed “Chief Cultural Director” of Spotify is an agent of agitation within pop culture, striving to peer under the surface and root out any collusion that may be at play.

Sometimes, Joe’s rampant speculation can yield a revelation. Look no further than him declaring Jussie Smollett’s attack to be falsified before it entered public discourse. Other times, his emotionally untampered nature has led him to make some claims that seem so unsubstantiated that it veers towards conspiracy theory. From labelling Ashanti a stripper to casting since-debunked aspersions about how tracks such as Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Motorsport” came about, Budden never shirks at the prospect of making powerful nemeses. Yet at his most intuitive, Budden’s capacity for cultural analysis will lead him to strike upon a perfectly-formed hot take that’ll get both regular listeners and outside observers talking. Recently snagging the honours of top podcast of the year, it’s unclear whether the . “respect on my name” that he believes himself to warrant will be forthcoming, but it’s undeniable that his formula works.

Across different artists and hip-hop-centric phenomena that he's shelled out his two cents on, we’ve run down some of the hottest hot takes that he’s made during his time as a commentator.


Russ Isn’t Worthy

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Within modern-day hip-hop, there are few people that coax strong opinions quite like Joe Budden. But in terms of competitors for the genre’s most alienating figure, no one on active duty is as as divisive as Russ. The subject of innumerable thinkpieces that have examined exactly why the Diemon MC is so widely reviled, the rapper has never been averse to steering into the smoke. Russ took umbrage with his treatment on the September 8th edition of "Everyday Struggle," an episode that Joe was notably absent from, and felt the need to vocalize it on wax.

Despite Joe’s physical presence being elsewhere, his affiliation with Nadeska Alexis and DJ Akademiks was enough for Budden to get some bars flung his way on the Scott Storch-produced “Think Twice.” Declaring that "This ain't no average Joe shit, this is everyday Russell, Joe got a day job, that's an everyday struggle," the now-retired MC opted to respond to the Georgia rapper’s assertions in his current longform manner. After a playthrough, Joe’s co-hosts allude to the possibility that Joe— who is widely recognized as underrated as it pertains to the pen game— to end his self-imposed exile from the booth and body him. But to Budden, Russ— who he’s since admitted to not knowing of prior to the conflict— didn’t merit bars:

“Number one, Russ has a manbun. Number two, Russ is five foot three. So if you add one and two, Russ is five three with a manbun. What’s supposed to happen here? I’m supposed to come out of retirement and kill this kid?" Alongside these dismissive comments, Budden dispelled the notion that Russ should feel entitled to be on the show before driving home the point that he wasn’t on his level.

"I’m supposed to dig my deadly fuckin’ pen out of the vault, for Russ? But shout out to Russ, that was bold. N****s don’t just say my name on a track. That was bold of you."

No matter how inferior he believes him to be, Joe’s departure from Complex wedged the door open for dialogue and they’d soon discuss matters during a 2019 edition of “Pull Up.”


The Weeknd’s Pursuit of PartyNextDoor

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While many of these hot takes have had time to marinate, this one is straight off the skillet. Amid OVO’s PartyNextDoor and fellow Toronto artist The Weeknd dropping music in quick succession, Joe suspected that foul play was afoot on Abel’s behalf. Although many would dismiss it outright, a sleuthing Budden laid out his theory that Abel Tesfaye was actively trying to overshadow PND’s new releases and thwart his progression.

Taken from Episode 301, Budden claimed that,"The focal point there for me is that The Weeknd announces this a week after the function, the gathering down the road duds… I feel like this is at least the second or third time that, since the separation of The Weeknd from OVO, that The Weeknd has stepped on a PartyNextDoor release purposefully. That is how I feel, I feel like I went through this the last time he dropped."

Despite co-host Rory’s belief that Abel now has far too much infrastructure around him to drop in correlation with someone else’s schedule, Joe remained undeterred.

"I always subscribe to the artist is human first, and artist second. Yes I understand that he’s a huge popstar and how much bigger he is than Party. I still feel like he’s a human. I still feel like he may have had feelings from whatever mess was happening at OVO that we don’t know. From Bella Hadid to Drake being really big on Party and ignoring Weeknd to the Take Care debacle that was rumoured… I’m only talking about the cosmetics of it all."

Skeptical as his co-hosts may have been, Joe made his co-hosts at least concede that Abel knew PND had released music in the past few weeks.


Budden Predicts A Purge

To say that relations between Joe Budden and the younger generations of MCs are fractious is an understatement. Between debating Lil Yachty on "Everyday Struggle" and reproaching him for his 360 deal to getting blindsided by a diss track from Wifisfuneral, Joey Jumpoff is sometimes seen as dispensing wisdom to new artists about the perils of the industry where other times, it’s just hating.

Not exactly known for his optimism, Episode 200 of the podcast saw Joe preach a sermon about an impending tidal wave that was coming for the artists flourishing in today’s game. And while tellingly avoiding specifics, no one was spared from this grim prognosis.

"This is where I want to get with my hot takes. This year [2018], the volume, a lot of shit being forgettable. These past few years, we’ve been in a state of transitioning so things have been a little different. And because of the oversaturation, it’s hard to identify where some of ya’ll are at. Some of ya’ll are having a hard fuckin’ time dealing with this influx of new acts and new everything… What happened this year combined with what happens next year, the wave is about to wipe a lot of ya’ll out the way in 2020. A lot of the current standing that we look at as hot, thriving, rocking… whether this be from bad business decisions or lack of output, in 2020, there ain’t gonna be room for all this shit."

With 2020 just around the corner, we’ll soon see how Joe’s claim from November 2018 holds up.


Peter Rosenberg Is A Traitor

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The death of XXXTentacion brought a lot of unfettered emotion to light. Hip-hop was thrown into a state of disarray for weeks afterwards and Joe Budden had no reservations about letting everyone know that it profoundly affected him. After speaking about how X’s mental health advocacy on ? had left him in tears, Budden recounted how he went from saddened to apoplectic upon hearing Peter Rosenberg discuss the issue with Don La Greca & Michael Kay. After interrupting their “bullshit Yankee talk” to discuss the news, Budden felt that Rosenberg’s description of XXX as “no angel” was traitorous:

"I take offense to Peter Rosenberg because if you’re in this culture, then that’s to be represented wherever you are. You can’t take hip-hop out of me. So, for Peter Rosenberg to sit in a room with conservative-ass Michael Kay and David La Greca who have no idea who this kid is? Are you in this culture, or are you a guest? Because when you’re explaining some shit from the culture, I’d think that it’d be explained with some of identification."

After Rosenberg responded, Joe was unrepentant and dug his heels in:

"Who the fuck are you to tell somebody they’re not an angel. Let me tell you this Peter Rosenberg. the HYPOCRISY," Joe says. "I feel you owe your entire career and hip hop to gentleman like XXX and gentleman like myself. Gentlemen you like to discredit because you feel inferior in your spot."

At time of writing, the two are yet to patch it up. 


Cancelling Kanye

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Unlike other entries in this list, Joe’s ill-will towards Kanye isn’t an isolated incident, but a sustained perception. Bordering on a recurring segment on the podcast, each new dispatch from Ye has been met with disdain from around May of 2018 onwards. Amid accusing Kanye of having “blackface privilege,” Budden has remain befuddled as to why hip-hop “puts up” with Ye in the wake of the “slavery was a choice” scandal and other inflammatory remarks.

"Self-centered. Self-absorbed. Self-obsessed. Selfish. All the self’s except self-aware…The only point that I’m making is that all of his problems as of late are personal indictments against him. They’re never for this greater good or this greater cause…. He’s just speaking in fucking riddles," Joe Budden said of Kanye.

Amid claiming that only a string of selfless acts could redeem Kanye in his eyes, an episode of "State Of The Culture" saw Joe wade into Ye’s rebirth as an emissary of the lord and define it as "scam bullshit that he’s pulling on y’all people that’s naïve enough to believe it."

Built off of fiery animosity towards his fellow Def Jam alumni, something tells us we won’t be seeing a "Pull Up" episode with Kanye anytime soon.


Drake: Jaded Over Jorja?

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Joe Budden was one of the earliest upholders of the notion that Drake’s “Jaded” was about one particular British songstress. Although Jorja Smith has downplayed any relationship and point-blank denied the rumours that he has a tattoo in her honour, a July edition of the podcast saw Joe leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of proving the theory that she was the inspiration behind this melancholic number from Scorpion.

"I feel like a lot of men can relate to dealing with a woman who’s that young. And I feel like this record is how some very, very, very young woman out there really toyed with Drake’s heart. This record is about Jorja Smith, yes? If I’m getting into lyrics, this record is about Jorja Smith. And at the end of the album, he confirms it when he says 'I got his 11 for someone else, but now it’s for you.'

Giving way to a highly amusing lyrical breakdown from 11:13 onwards, he certainly makes a compelling case for why Jorja “dipped” on Aubrey.


The Plight Of De La Soul

Where Joe is often derided for his incendiary comments, there are times where he acts as a dispersive force that cuts through the politics and gets to the heart of the issue. Not a hot take in the conventional sense, but a summation of what needed to be said, one of the most emotional moments of Joe’s career came when discussing De La Soul’s music getting committed to streaming services against their will.

Empathetic to all those who’ve found themselves on the losing end of war with the industry machine, Joe spoke about Tommy Boy’s subterfuge on the March 4th episode of "State Of The Culture" and felt that what Pos, Trugoy and Maseo are suffering is an indictment of how hip-hop treats its icons overall.

"If we not gonna take care of some of our forefathers or some of the people that preceded us, what type of hope is that to leave to a n***a like me? To her [Remy Ma], to Offset, to any of these fuckin’ kids? I gotta cry because when I see these legends, they look fucked up. De La Soul didn’t look too great and it’s hurting how I view these artists."

Say what you want about Budden, but you can’t claim he doesn’t care about his fellow creatives.


Chance’s Downfall

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Over the past year or so, it feels like there’s been a real and demonstrable shift when it comes to public perception of Chance The Rapper. Once anointed as a trailblazer that was leading the way for a whole generation of independent artists, the release of his saccharinely happy The Big Day album left many fans out in the cold.

After "Everyday Struggle" played a clip from Chance’s plaintive Colbert performance with Daniel Caesar, Joe was in a state of hysterics. Amid bellowing, “What the fuck is Chance doing?” at the top of his lungs, Budden went on to deconstruct his new direction in typically unabridged form.

"What is this style of music? Chance gotta stop, I see what Chance is doing. Enough of the Apollo shit where you go out there and sing about Jesus and we can’t boo you. What the fuck is he talking about? It’s too positive, I’m on some Wale shit man…  Get this clean shit outta here and cock a gun. What the hell is all this church shit for anyway? You ain’t a sinner. You ain’t sinned on three projects."

Accustomed to dealing with Joe’s more curmudgeonly side, co-hosts Nadeska Alexis and DJ Akademiks seemed to dismiss his claims as bitterness, with the latter going as far as to label Joe’s mockery of the edgeless collab as "ridiculous."

However, after the audience relentlessly slaughtered The Big Day, Chano can’t say that Budden didn’t gauge the temperature for him.


Better Than Eminem

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There’s no other way to conclude this rundown of Joe’s most inflammatory takes than with the spiciest thing he’s ever said. In the wake of Eminem throwing some barbs his way for his perceived deceit on Kamikaze, Joe went in-depth on his turbulent relationship with Shady Records, Slaughterhouse and more during Episode 177, "TV & Mayonnaise."

Unwilling to pay homage to the GOAT contender like scores of other MC’s would’ve, Joe delivered a hot take that will live on in infamy:

"Let me speed this up for you. Newsflash, Em. I heard the album and because I don’t think you know all the members that were in the group, I don’t really think you know our history," Budden said. "Let me tell you what Joe Budden has thought this entire time. I’ve been better than you this entire fucking decade! Huh? Can’t say that back then. But in my rapper brain, I’m a content n***a. You gotta say something! You have not said anything for the better part of a whole fucking decade! You have rhymed a bunch of words."

Unless Joe runs for president or picks the mic back up, it’s hard to imagine his remarks getting any more contentious than this one.