Joe Budden Raps About His Life While Channeling Jay Z’s Hard Knock (Audio)

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In June of 2003, Joe Budden’s eponymous debut LP dropped, enjoying the success of its lead single, which arrived a month prior in the form of “Pump It Up.” Produced by Just Blaze, the record remains one of Budden’s most successful, but it almost didn’t happen. Jay Z reportedly was offered the beat first, but passed on it. However, Jigga would appear alongside Budden on the song’s remix, itself created from pieces of disses each had aimed at the other. In the years since, the two have moved beyond any beef, and based on Budden’s new single, it’s evident they currently enjoy a relationship based on respect and admiration.

Joe Budden Discusses Why His Music & Personal Life Are At Their Best In 2016

“I Gotta Ask” is the third single from Budden’s forthcoming album, Rage & the Machine, which arrives October 21. Entirely produced by araabMUZIK, the new LP is spearheaded by lead single “By Law,” featuring Jazzy, which was followed up  with “Flex,” which features assists from Fablous and Tory Lanez. However today’s (October 17) release delivers an offering sans guest artists, and it features a cadence and flow that Heads might find familiar, namely that of Jay Z’s 1998 single, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” the Annie-sampling Grammy-nominated hit off the multi-platinum juggernaut Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life.

In speaking with BET, Budden referenced “I Gotta Ask”‘s nod to a different era, saying “the beat immediately brought me to a very nostalgic place, it just felt good. But the homage to Jigga goes beyond the song’s production qualities, and Heads will likely recognize Budden’s flips of a few Jay Z lines from “Hard Knock Life.” However, the song is a reinvention through-and-through, and is just the latest example of where Joe Budden is in 2016, more than a decade since his arrival and on the cusp of his first independently released album.

In addition to Budden’s lyrical references to his not being the least bit interested in others’s opinions, the single’s artwork seems to suggest that, despite having a question he’s gotta ask, its response is not his concern. Rage & the Machine will be released on Budden’s Mood Muzik imprint and is available for pre-order on iTunes.