No Love Lost
7:00AM ET February 12th, 2013
Contributor: Todd Williams
A Rocky Williform Company
Joe Budden's turn as a reality star on VH1's "Love & Hip Hop" series has raised his profile and his constant bickering with ex-girlfriends has ensured that the Jersey City native has remained a fixture on hip hop gossip sites for the better part of two years. Musically, his tenure with the supergroup Slaughterhouse has kept his knack for clever and sometimes-dark rhymes from being obscured by the drama of his personal life, but it is worth acknowledging that no one probably predicted Budden to deliver an album as musically-focused as his latest effort, No Love Lost.
The tough guy posing of his Slaughterhouse persona is downplayed this time around, with Budden opting to showcase more of his introspective side. One can't help but think that this is reflective of the new fanbase he's likely garnered from starring on a reality show about dysfunctional relationships; but it doesn't feel like a coldly calculated move here--even if it is. Budden is tapping into his inner Drake, inviting the listener in to his sometimes-melancholy world of heartache and redemption.
The track "You and I" is one of those mellow moments that's guaranteed to be a hit with his female fanbase, as is the smoothed out feel of "Skeletons." There is an organic vibe to the music here, with Budden opting to go for "Grown and Sexy" without foregoing his knack for wit or without sounding less-than-earnest when talking about his own inner demons.
"N.B.A." is fairly standard baller-rap, with its staccato hook of "Never broke again, never goin' broke again" and trunk rattling production and guest turns from Wiz Khalifa and French Montana. And, of course, this is still a 2010s mainstream hip hop album--so you're going to hear strip club music, best typified by the Lil Wayne and Tank-assisted "She Don't Put It Down."
A heavy mix of party anthems and somber moments, the album does drag on a bit long at 17 tracks. The remix to "She Don't Put It Down" feels unnecessary and the title track feels a little redundant and forced. But Budden sounds clear-headed and sharp throughout the album.
No Love Lost is probably the latest in a series of albums from Budden that feature him opening up; and the rapper's well-documented problems with women and drugs make him a prime candidate for such a project. While it's not necessarily "classic" material, it's definitely a strong release from a gifted rapper who's talents shouldn't be ignored or forgotten just because he's being beamed into your living room once a week.