Joe Budden at Chocolate (218 Richmond West), tonight (Thursday, December 11). $10-$15. 416-870-8000.
A couple of months ago, Obie Trice came up with a "real name, no gimmicks" stance and sold a quarter-million records his first week out. Obie doesn't need gimmicks. He's got Eminem and Dr. Dre standing behind him all day with their arms crossed going, "Yeah, bitches, support this guy you ain't never heard of before cuz we say so."
New Jersey's Joe Budden is something like Obie. He uses his real name, and y'all can bet your asses there are no gimmicks. Joe Budden's brand of rap is exactly as the Mormons would have it, plain as a rice cake. His album cover is monochrome, his voice monotone, his lyrics mediocre and his subject matter standard fare: gangstaz, women, hataz, hustlaz, drugs, life, love, reality. The production is like a baby's diet - all formula. There's a 112 collaboration, a Busta Rhymes cameo and DJ Clue yelling. The old school gets a token nod. Pain is expressed.
But in the world of mainstream hiphop, it's OK because this sells. Only problem is, Joe doesn't have that Eminem push. Nobody's standing behind him with arms crossed. As a result, a lot of mainstream heads don't know why they should be bumpin' him in their SUVs.
Without any buildup save for some limited mix tape buzz, Def Jam spilled Joe Budden all over the public, maybe thinking if they saturated the market with enough Budden, it would stick. Overnight, his expressionless mug was plastered everywhere, and his big, annoying single, Pump It Up (remember? "Pump pump pump pump it up!"), was kicked down people's throats, the summer jam from hell.
A feature on MTV's Web site is called Joe Budden: The Next 50 Cent? Sounds like they're not sure. Notice they have to refer to another rapper when referencing Budden. In a lot of ways, he's every commercial street MC from the East Coast amalgamated into one commercial street MC. If an alien came to Earth and needed you to explain what commercial street hiphop was, Joe Budden would be the most perfectly generic thing to play.