Main Pick

Lyrical Assassin: Joe Budden

Representing: New Jerz

Mixtape: Mood Muzik 4

Real Spit: Anyone familiar with the rap game could easily tell you Joe Budden isn't your average rapper. And his mixtape series, Mood Muzik, isn't quite your typical mixtape.

In the midst of finalizing a deal with Eminem's Shady Records for his Slaughterhouse group and working on his next — and possibly last — solo release The Great Escape (we don't believe you, Joe), the New Jersey native released what he's calling his best work to date on Mood Muzik 4.

"For those that are not familiar, I like to call it one of the best mixtape series ever," Budden said from his New Jersey 'hood. "One came out in maybe 2005, and it was all conceived from information I got from labels basically saying that B-sides were less important than singles, and I just disagreed with that."

And from there, the Mood Muzik phenomenon was born.

"It was something that started there and kind of took on a life of its own," Joe recalled. "Calling it a mixtape when it's really an album with all original production, all brand-new lyrics, nothing ever heard before. It just got a really great reception from fans and something that we kept going, so it's something we do every two or three years. It's not just something that comes around. People put mixtapes out every few months, every year. They come often. Not Mood Muzik. It's a totally different type of monster. And when you hear it, you should be able to understand why."

On MM4 Joey Jump-Off enlisted production from the usual suspects, including J. Cardim and the not-so-willing-to-appear Just Blaze.

Joints to Check For

» "Black Cloud" "It's probably the darkest record on Mood Muzik 4," Budden said. "However, the whole song is about being happy. So it was a weird twist. It was definitely new for me, conceptually, to try to pull that off, but I think I was successful in doing that. The record was a Dear John to exactly what is happening in the now."

» "Remember the Titans" " 'Remember the Titans' is one of my favorites, not so much because of the actual record, but because there's so many different backstories. Like, me and [Lloyd] Banks beefed all these years ago, and he's on the record. Me and Royce [Da 5'9"] beefed. Fab kind of ushered me into the game through mixtapes, and then there's the whole me, Fab and Tahiry love triangle. There's so many underlines that that record is just ill to me."

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