With the unfortunate incarceration of Taxstone, putting the highly entertaining Tax Season podcast on an indefinite hold, along with the cancellation of Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds’ Juan Epstein podcast, the golden era of hip-hop podcasts just isn’t as golden as it was in the last 2 years or so. Yet, the one podcast that has continued to stand out and seemingly only gets better each and every episode is the Joe Budden Podcast, formerly known as I’ll Name This Podcast Later (we didn’t believe it but hey, gotta get that bag).
At its current state, the podcast includes Joe and his friends Rory, Mal, and Parks (his engineer, whose crib is the location of the podcast while their old studio is being renovated); as well those behind the scenes: Chris, behind the camera for YouTube viewership; and Savon, their recently hired intern who Joe will call on to perform the most random of tasks, like finding out The Rock’s zodiac sign. The podcast blesses its avid listeners 3 days a week, with the guys getting together every Tuesday to talk about whatever happened in music, sports, and on the Internet that week. The podcast gets released in audio form on Soundcloud and iTunes every Wednesday, and then it’s released in visual form on YouTube every Thursday. To sum it up, it’s barbershop talk if barbershop talk was made public (so they’re not all the way wildin’, but they’re wildin’). Now let’s delve into the hosts (pause).
At 27 years of age, Rory is the youngest of the hosts, and probably the most rational of all three, despite Joe’s categorization of Rory as “just being another hipster”. Outside of the podcast, Rory is best known for being the general manager of HennyPalooza, the dark liquor-driven (none sponsored) day party which has turned into one of the biggest cross-country fests in America (if you haven’t experienced it yet, we highly suggest that you do).
Other than that, not much was known about Rory up until he appeared on ItsTheReal’s A Waste of Time podcast; on which he revealed his life story that included being an all-state track runner in high school, getting kicked out of college nearly three times, and interning with video productions and marketing teams for Def Jam during which he saw the early careers of Big K.R.I.T., Big Sean and others, as well as Rosewood-era Kanye and more importantly MBDTF Kanye. Rory’s appearance on ItsTheReal has been regarded as one of AWOT’s best episodes, as Rory’s story was equal parts funny, unique, and even inspirational.
While Joe can get a little annoying in his continuing to use the drop of this line, an article about the Joe Budden Podcast cannot be written without mentioning Rory’s funniest moment and probably the most pause-worthy moments in podcast history: Rory’s infamous line took place in Episode 109 as the guys were looking at the list of performers for the then-upcoming Hot 97 Summer Jam, among whom included Trey Songz (see 35:20 mark).
Joe also hasn’t gotten over the fact that Rory is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which Joe hilariously refers to as a “dancing gang” as you can see below (see 12:57 mark).
Mal first joined Joe and Rory for Episode 77 of the podcast and the reception of Mal and his stories (like the one about how him and Joe spent a few days in prison together) was so great that he was asked to be a permanent part of the show. During that very episode, Joe had referred to Mal as “hip-hop royalty” and talked about his connections to Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records, but it really wasn’t until Mal appeared on ItsTheReal that a majority of their audience found out that he was the brother of Rocafella’s Kareem “Biggs” Burke, and Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua. Thus, the Roc-A-Fella hats, jackets, and possibly even jeans Mal dons all the time came to make more sense.
And while listeners learned a decent amount about Mal from that ItsTheReal convo, he still remains a mysterious figure nevertheless. Outside of the Roc-A-Fella connections, the main thing we know about Mal is that he’s cool with literally everybody, as in, Mal knows mad people, and mad people know Mal. He somehow has ties to OVO, which in turn results in Joe constantly asking Mal for updates on their camp, in addition to the Roc Nation camp; and he somehow knows a number of athletes (mainly NBA players), from Brandon Jennings, to Trevor Ariza, to Tristan Thompson (through which Mal also befriended the Kardashians, or at least Khloe, as evidenced in this hilarious Instagram pic).
The time Mal spends in L.A. with his athlete friends often comes to the bewilderment of Joe, to the point where he even called up Mal to check up on him after Mal had missed a series of podcasts in late June and early July, only to be told that he was out there for….the ESPYs (see 2:40 mark).
Other things known about Mal include the fact that he enjoys wearing the brand Supreme, he was once a member of an online group chat known as the “V.I.P. Chat” alongside Miko Grimes and others, back when email was the only medium for group chats, and the fact that he’s from the Bronx.
Mal’s just a cool dude at the end of the day.
While Joe continues to appear as the polarizing figure, being a staple of Complex’s Everyday Struggle, there’s something to be said about how the show happens to work in favor of the quality of his podcasts. In the moments you see the abrasive confrontational Joe on Everyday Struggle, what needs to be understood is the fact that the show is structured content; a lot of the show’s topics are chosen by the productions team and most of the show’s topics are about stuff Joe just doesn’t care about. On the other hand, Joe’s podcast is a weekly catch-up with his friends in which they talk about whatever they want; and so because of this, the silly and downright hilarious Joe which you may see at times in Everyday Struggle is present throughout the Joe Budden Podcast on a more consistent basis. Joe may very well be the funniest man in hip-hop right now, yet it’s a shame how this Internet era of teens and trolls is still too fixated on the controversies he finds himself in to even accept his humor and perspective.
The best podcasts usually include one of Joe’s signature dramatic readings, which may come in the form of delivering the message from a sponsor, like the Talkspace ad from the aforementioned 120th episode (around 1:20:00 mark):
Or, his readings of Instagram rants, like that of Maliah Michel when she responded to Drake retiring her jersey along with that of other strippers back in July.
And, you can’t have a conversation about Joe’s dramatic readings without mentioning all the Tyrese vs. The Rock drama that’s happened in the past month, which saw Joe going through a number of hysterical posts from Tyrese’s Instagram page, as the actor/singer has been one of the most bizarre figures on the Internet as of late (and for a long time now, for that matter).
But while the jokes fly about Tyrese’s recent actions, it’s important to note how Joe will always think of Tyrese’s mental health first, much like how he does with a lot of people whom he discusses, as that’s (mental health) something which he himself has dealt with in the past.
Among the podcasts most beloved segments is “Homie Court”, in which either one of the podcast’s hosts, or another member of their infamous group chat (which is titled with the name of every person who has dissed Joe so far this year), gets “put on trial” for being “flagrant” and “going against any ‘homie’ rules and regulations”. One of the more recent appearances of “Homie Court” took place in Episode 135 when Mal was brought to trial for allowing Joe to go on Love & Hip Hop with this hideous vest on back when Joe was a cast member of LHHNY (see 1:50:32 mark).
Another notable segment from the podcast is the “Sleepers” portion, in which each member grabs the aux and plays one song from an artist that is up-and-coming or slept-on; or just their favorite song from a recent project. While Rory often bodies the other two’s sleeper picks with his “barefoot music” selections, one of the most notable sleeper picks was Mal’s selection to play Shawn Smith‘s “Heaven” (see 1:45:22 mark below), which blew the hosts away (pause) to the point that they even reached out to Smith and had him perform at their live show at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom this past July.
It’s amazing how there has yet to be a conversation that has truly covered the Joe Budden Podcast; this article should have been written months ago, especially when you consider the fact that it is the #1 ranked music podcast on iTunes.
If you haven’t already, make sure to catch a listen or watch Joe along with Rory and Mal in their “little podcast” every Wednesday or Thursday on their Soundcloud and YouTube pages, respectively. It’ll be without a doubt the best 90 minutes–2 hours of your week.