The Listening

With so much drama in the in-dus-try, it’s kinda hard being R-O-B. LOL! Well not really. Truthfully I’m a music dude and through all the industry ups and downs, I’m thankful for one thing; the MUSIC! It keeps me going. I’ve had a ton of jobs that I wasn’t particularity fond of. I got my first job working in a comic book store in Brooklyn at 13, just so I could cop the new Jordans that my folks wouldn’t by me. Then at age 15 I got my Mookie on and delivered pizzas. Next I worked at the dELiA*s call center and mailroom for years with folks like Amil, Pumpkinhead, Poison Pen, Rise, Bad Seed and Cassie (who would come in from time to time to shoot the cover).

Then of course there was Scratch Magazine and now XXL. Truthfully being the music editor is great, because my job consists of listening to the newest and sometimes the most exclusive music. Still, perhaps the most frustrating thing about hearing music so far in advance and then having to formulate a professional opinion on it (aka giving it a rating), is that most times there are a number of changes that the album goes through before it hits retail (or leaks for all you cheapskates).

So today, I got my hands on Busta Rhymes’ Back On My B.S. and I’ve noticed that the track listing has drastically changed. Then again I heard the album in 2008 when it was called Blessed and another time earlier this year. In total I must’ve heard 30 Busta tracks (at least), but with the way that dude STAYS in the studio you kinda get the feeling that shit was gonna change regardless. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With leaked tracks and delayed releases becoming an industry norm, artists are under more pressure than ever to keep their material fresh. Here are some examples of albums that I’ve seen undergo some drastic changes. – Rob the Music Ed

Busta Rhymes Back on My B.S. – Back when he was still on Interscope the homie played his album (originally titled Blessed) for a group of writers and media types. Truthfully the album hasn’t changed much. Of course back then there was no “Arab Money” or “Hustler’s Anthem ’09,” but I’m glad the Dungeon Dragon kept the DJ Scratch-produced “Ima A Go and Get My…” and the soulful “Decision.” Still there are some lost gems from this one like “Let Me Show You” (another Scratch banger) and “If” featuring Nicole Scherzinger. There was also the Sean C and LV banger, “Bus Stop” and the Dr. Dre and Focus collabo “Right Now.” I wonder what will become of all that heat.

Jadakiss The Last Kiss- Besides the Red Spyder-produced “Money and Jewelry” and “Hard Times” with Barrington Levy, Jada didn’t omit too many joints for the original version of his album. But he sure added a lot. When XXL went in to review The Last Kiss, “Who’s Real” with OJ Da JuMan and Swizz, “Grind Hard” with Mary, “What If” featuring Nas and Pharrell’s “Stress Ya” were not on the play list. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Ya’ll decide that one on your own.

Joe Budden Padded Room- Jumpoff is an artiste. From the few times I’ve been around dude he just strikes me as someone who is very serious about his art. So we went out to Jerz to listen to Padded Room in the fall of 2007 (could’ve even been the end of the summer, I forget). But when the album came out earlier this year, a lot of things changed. For one he took “Touch & Go” from the track list, most fans would call that a win—me, I never hated that song at all. Also missing from the final version of Padded Room was the telling “Outcast” where Joe likens his position in the game to being in a “Five star suite with the view of a brick wall.” He also deaded “My Life” which was probably for the best, it had a very popular sample, which just made the song sound dated. Joe also left off the lyrically deep “Better Me” (which he instead included on Halfway House along with” Just to Be Different”). “The Future” featuring The Game and the rock-infused “Adrenaline” weren’t on there either and he actually started recording “Happy Holidays” right after we left the studio.

Saigon The Greatest Story Never Told- Now this album doesn’t exactly count, because it hasn’t actually been released. But I have faith that hip-hop fans will one day hear it. Sai and Just Blaze played the album for me in the summer of 2007 and the shit was NUTS! I’m pretty sure when GSNT does drop, that it will be drastically different from what I heard. However there are some songs that I hope Sai-Giddy keeps, like the Faith Evans-assisted “Clap.” That shit is like “Why You Hate the Game” (off of the Doctor’s Advocate) on CRACK and 10 times better! I’m assuming they’re gonna keep the title track, that shit was just classic Just Blaze and hopefully they find room for the Buckwild-produced “Oh Yeah.” No matter the outcome, I’ma have to hit up Sai for the O.G. version of the album when it’s all said and done.

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  • Mario


  • Pierzy

    Jadakiss – The original “Champ Is Here” with the Will Smith sample…

  • Tony Grand$


    Cutting room throwaways

    Wiki it Rob. $ykotic entered it as a term coined here on XXL for the type of albums you talking about.


    Anyways, I used to work for this little indy mag in like 95-96, & I did album reviews. We had gotten a copy of Missy Elliot’s first tape (yeah, tape ha!) & of course I kept it myself (I’m sure you know how that goes).

    It was hella different then the one that was released; hell, I still have it. Like 5-6 extra songs on my copy that never materialed. My shit was exclusive.

    • $ykotic

      Thank you brougham.

      This drop is the reason why I miss the record pools.

      FYI Grand$ I dropped a Biggie line on one of Mexx’ blogs. That’s where The Commission came from!

      • EmCDL

        Yeah i’ve been using the term ‘CRT’ since $yk confirmed it on Wiki. The term makes perfect sense nowadays

  • General

    I think Detox (if it ever drops) would probably be the most interesting one to see what was left on the cutting room floor, because from the sounds of it, Dre has 4 or 5 years worth of material that will never see the light of day, which is a big loss for hip-hop…

    I think Busta probably didn’t have much of a choice, but to change up his because I’m sure Interscope wasn’t going to give him more than one or two of the tracks that he did with Dre and Aftermath…

    I think that is why the mixtape game continues to be fairly strong though, because it give the artists a chance to let the fans hear a lot of the shit that was intended for the official release, but never made it for one reason or another, but it is curious that with all the material that these artists record and prep for the Cd’s that most artists still can’t put together a complete CD of quality music



    • OG Matt Herbz

      Interesting that you mention “Street’s Disciple,” which, in its’ entirety should have been left on the cutting room floor.

      –OG Matt Herbz–

      I’ve got every Nas album on my mp3 player EXCEPT Street’s Disciple.

      “Nazareth Savage” and “Suicide Bounce” are the only tolerable songs in my opinion.

      • JCITYHUSTLA617


        • BigDan!

          Pssh, “Theif’s Theme” is the best song on that album. “UBR” and “Bridging the Gap” went hard too.

  • Bol

    Trust me, you’re gonna wanna google Delia’s.



  • RiZob

    The original “Tha Carter 3″ completely shits on what finally came out….”I Feel Like Dying” “Prostitute Flange” “One Night Only” “Trouble” “PMW” “Something You Forgot”….all of these tracks were leaked and left off….just imagine what could have been….:-(

  • latino heat

    not sure how long ago this happened but Busta’s album just leaked. hope this shit bangs.



  • Jamal7Mile

    Awww shoot, Rob!

    One of my first jobs was interviewing the old school Motown producers and submitting an article on what I got from those folks. The job paid NADA but the experience was priceless!! The first article I managed to get in print was when I interviewed my homie, Proof (Rest In Paradise) at The Hip Hop Shop, back in ’94 I think.

    I’ve also interviewed the folks running Stevie Wonder’s first studio. That’s up on Lodge Fwy and Webb. I think it was called “Masterpiece Studio” or something. It looks like a house, but the basement of this house is something else! The pictures hanging on the wall belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not at this non-descript Webb Avenue house!! Oh man!!

    I wrote for a “producer’s” publication. It was boring to the average Joe, but music-makers in Detroit all had this rag on their dusty ol’ lobby coffee table. It was called L’Amour Report. The owner, “Joei” was Aaliyah’s sound engineer on the road. I reported directly to Alysyn Curd, who said I was a “God send.”

    I’m just saying…