For the past 8 months, Complex appeared to have taken an even more top position in distributing hip-hop media content, as it struck gold with their daily online morning show Everyday Struggle. Branded as hip-hop’s First Take, the show is an hour-plus long program which saw hosts Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks debate alongside moderator Nadeska Alexis over all things hip-hop culture and industry, just as they occur.  Everyday Struggle‘s audience has grown exponentially since its premiere in April, as it now averages about 500,000 views an episode. But now, is all that about to change?

While Joe hadn’t been present for their episode on Monday, many believed that he was simply taking a parental leave for a week since his newborn son with girlfriend, Cyn Santana arrived into the world just this past Friday. Among those who held this theory, is the man currently filling in for Joe, Shade 45’s DJ Whoo Kid, who as you can see below quickly realized that he was very much mistaken.

When Joe spent the rest of the day on Twitter speaking about how true creators move with integrity and even changing his social media bio from “Chief Cultural Director (CCD) of Complex” to just “Chief Culture Director”, the rumors of him leaving the show began swirling, sending Twitter into a frenzy. And while many believed that he was just trolling as he has loved to do in the past, Joe has forever talked about being properly compensated for one’s works, whether for his Everyday Struggle co-hosts Akademiks and Nadeska, or his podcast co-hosts Rory and Mal. He’s made it very clear that there’s no sense in producing content for anybody if the right bag isn’t involved, and once Complex confirmed to Billboard yesterday that Joe wouldn’t be returning to the show in 2018, it became clear that this was the exact situation that occurred.

Complex truly had a winning formula with the dynamic that Akademiks and Joe brought to the table. Prior to the show, Akademiks was primarily known for his huge online presence in producing hip-hop news content whether on his YouTube channel or Instagram page. A large amount of the content Akademiks chose to cover and continues to cover has always been rather controversial, as many believe that he plays a large part in fueling the growth of individuals and ideologies which may corrupt the culture overall. However, what Complex sought out the most was Ak’s audience: the ever-increasing population online of today’s 13-25 year old hip-hop fans/trolls who will sway public opinion of each and every aspect of the culture by any means necessary. Akademiks essentially presents the voice of this younger generation, and when you combine and clash his voice with the polarizing figure that Joe Budden is and the values which Joe stands for and won’t ever let go of, you have yourself quite a compelling series.

While Joe and Akademiks very easily could have done Everyday Struggle without Complex, and rather on their own, off the strength of their combined YouTube viewerships, Complex provided capital. And while this had been a perfect scenario in Akademiks’ eyes, Joe refused to look past the injustices which Complex had allowed to occur, injustices which he talked of at-length during his podcast today. Among them included the following:

  • Three months into Everyday Struggle Nike reached out to Complex hoping achieve sponsor integration within the show, in which the hosts would to wear their new Air Vapormax sneakers. Joe agreed to wear the sneakers despite not receiving any compensation for doing so from neither Complex nor Nike.
  • Spotify reached out to the show in an attempt to have their fast-rising Rap Caviar playlist be “spoken of candidly”. Apparently Spotify was willing to offer up very little money for this promotion and so Joe refused, but the heads over at Complex went and told Spotify that they would find a way to do so with or without Joe. However, Spotify then pulled their offer, thus ruining a relationship with one of the top streaming providers out there.
  • Prior to the show on Monday, after notifying Complex that Joe would indeed be arriving to work, Joe’s manager Ian Schwartzman was told that Joe’s contract had indeed expired and that they have moved on from Joe’s services. While Joe was welcome to come do the show, he would not be paid.

In echoing the words of Stephen A. Smith, Joe says that his first priority in walking into work every morning is “How can I make my boss way more money than he’s making?” Not only has Everyday Struggle essentially become Complex’s flagship show, but Complex now has more subscriptions than ever before and viewership of their other series is also higher than ever since it’s inception. And so to not properly compensate such a large factor in their success of late is absolutely criminal.

In the past year, Joe has become arguably the biggest name in hip-hop. The times in which he’s been his abrasive, confrontational self contributed to the most memorable moments of 2017. The times in which he is his silly, playful, and outright hilarious self will be forever cherished in the hearts of his Everyday Struggle fans who have now converted into Joe Budden fans. He’s the Stephen A. Smith of hip-hop, but without the coonery. He’s the Charlamagne Tha God of off-air content, but instead of being the Prince Of Pissing People off he’s the King of Keeping People Entertained.

There isn’t a single person out there who could replace Joe on Everyday Struggle; Complex needed him way more than he needed Complex. And seeing as Joe very much intends to continue being a prominent figure in 2018, its very evident that Complex has truly played themselves.

Know your worth.