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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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