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Joe Budden Goes Deep on Nicki Minaj Fight, Reconciliation: ‘Hip-Hop Brought Us Together’

The podcast and "Love & Hip-Hop" star talks to Variety exclusively 24 hours after his dust-up with the Queen.

No one has ever accused Nicki Minaj of having much of a filter — not in person, and certainly not in new music such as her recent “Megatron” single.

The rapper showed off her biting side on Monday night when she returned to her Beats 1 “Queen Radio” show with special guest Joe Budden and more barbed attacks than one of her Remy Ma dis tracks.

Budden claimed on Aug. 5 that he and the Queen have long had an antagonistic relationship, going back to 2016 when the rapper-turned-podcaster told audiences on his “I’ll Name This Podcast Later,” Episode 68, that Minaj was stupid for liking then-fiance Meek Mill.

The beef must have been cleared up (or Minaj’s breakup with Mill made it a moot point) as she welcomed Budden on her “Queen Radio” show with open arms.

“Joe is here to make peace with the Barbz,” he said at the top of the interview.

But, no sooner had the chat started than Minaj dogged Budden about negative statements he made in the past regarding the 2018 song “Motorsport,” from Migos. The song not only features verses from Minaj, but Cardi B. as well, a fact that Budden claimed bothered Minaj.

“Nicki was upset because she didn’t know another female would be featured on the song,” said Budden on his podcast at the time of the song’s release. On Tuesday, Minaj finally responded to the claim, calling his claims untrue and stating that she had no problem with Cardi B.

Then, Budden – a famously recovering addict – went after Minaj for taking drugs and making references to them on her last album, 2018’s “Queen.”

“Your entire last album did that. Your past is littered with it. Who gives a f— what she pop? But don’t sit here and act like you’ve never popped a pill,” said Budden heatedly.

“I never said that you dumb f—! Cut his f—ing mic since you wanna be dumb!” Minaj said, before adding, “You like tearing down women when they can’t defend themselves.” And that was that for Budden … until a few hours later when Minaj taped a segment on his podcast, revealed via Instagram, naturally.

Episode 15 of “Queen Radio” not only celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Beats 1 show (which debuted on August 9, 2018), but was also originally supposed to feature Megan Thee Stallion. The two female rappers recently collaborated on “Hot Girl Summer” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, which debuted at No. 1 on iTunes.

Of course, leave it to Joe to call it as he sees it. Recently, Minaj and Meg popped again on Instagram Live, rocking neon green leopard print fits, to preview the forthcoming “Hot Girl Summer” video. Budden called out Minaj on the quick turnaround time, calling it “planned.” Minaj was quick to defend the move, claiming that after she and Meg’s first IG Live, people were egging her to collab with Meg, who presumably wanted her on a song equally as much.

One day after the antics, Variety spoke exclusively with Budden, who doesn’t think Minaj was pissed off, but rather that “entertainers have to convey certain things to their audience.”

Why did you agree to appear on “Queen Radio”?
Why not? Sometimes, you gotta throw a wrench in the algorithm system and that’s what that was. Nicki and I have talked about doing that for a little over a year. The fact that we were able to do it is much bigger than her and I. This was a Spotify, Apple thing, this was symbolic on so many different levels. It wasn’t really about her and I for me, but I f–k with Nicki.

Was it weird being at Apple when you’re a huge Spotify star? 
Weird? No, because I’m not really uncomfortable in places. I’ve been far much worse places than Apple. I did feel like they were watching us. [Laughs] That could be paranoia, but it wasn’t weird. Everybody was great up there. Great people, super hospitable.

Did you feel like you were on the defense from the minute you arrived? 
No, not the minute I got there. I didn’t feel on the defense. People have to understand, I’ve had those moments throughout my entire career so I’m home when that happens. When that happens, what happened yesterday, my job is done. That’s how I feel.

Happens as in, piss someone off?
I don’t mean to, that wasn’t the goal. I don’t think Nicki was really pissed off. Entertainers have to convey certain things to their audience. For Nick, that meant berating me. I think that was really important for her, so get it off! Cook. I’m numb, it’s not going to bother me. It’s not gonna affect me. What people say online isn’t going to bother me. I know you don’t feel like that. I know you’re leaving here to come do my podcast — it’s theatrics at the end of the day. I don’t pay that no mind.

You mentioned you used to that in your career? What was the last instance when something like that happened?
I was just reminiscing of nowadays, I can’t seem to get through an interview without me either walking out or getting kicked out. I got kicked out of my last appearance at Hot 97, I walked out that one.

What happened there? 
They would just focused on things that weren’t music related or related to my album, so I left. That’s a huge part of why artists really don’t speak to people like they once did. We all have our own platforms now so if I’m coming to yours, don’t you misuse me to push your own agenda. Don’t wait till I leave to type some clickbait headline. It’s messy out there.

How does it feel to be on the other end of it, having your own podcast?
You have to remember, throughout my career, no one has ever really wanted to speak to me or wanted to sit down with me. I always viewed myself as kind of hip-hop’s outcast, or hip-hop’s stepson. It was always me on the outskirts of it. Even now with my podcast, I feel like I’m on the outskirts just observing.

Would you agree with how Nicki characterized you guys coming up together? 
I didn’t hear that. I was put out by then, I got kicked out.

You didn’t go back and listen?
No way! I was outside, I was chillin’. I was having a blast, I was on the phone. My Twitter was on fire, but I don’t know if they knew I wasn’t there for the whole rant.

How did you feel about “Motorsport”?
Who cares what happened with “Motorsport”? That was my thing. But again, her platform. You gotta let people do what they need to do on their platform. You gotta let people be who they are and get their s— off. If that was important to her in the moment, then go ahead. For me, we almost in 2020. QC putting out a whole new project, I’m not even thinking about “Motorsport.” Who cares? I was interested in knowing why she cared so much about it, but a lot of these new artists are affected by what the fans say. My generation just wasn’t like that.

She said you like tearing down women when they can’t defend themselves?
That’s such a false narrative, I don’t understand where comes from and it shouldn’t be created. I was raised by a single mom. I was raised to believe — and I still believe — that women are the greatest creatures on this f–ing earth. The greatest. I don’t understand where that comes from.

Did you get a chance to defend yourself there? 
There’s nothing to defend, I wouldn’t even dignify it. What conversation are we having? It has to be with someone who isn’t familiar with me. … I’m not really perception-based. I’m black and white. If it’s true, great. If not, ya’ll have a blast with it as long as it’s not altering anything. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

How did it end up that she was on the Joe Budden podcast afterwards? 
Oh we arranged that. That was our deal: “I’ll come do your sh–, you come to my sh–.” From the rip, I said we can curse each other out, we’ll go at it, and that’s that.

How did the energy differ from each other’s show?
Well, on my podcast, we were able to have a conversation. We were able to actually discuss some things and hear her expound on some things that may have been missed on Queen Radio because of how she… because her delivery.

What brought you together ultimately? 
Hip-hop. What else would bring us together? Hip-hop and this thing we all participate in, you never know who you’re gonna see. I didn’t know I’d be here with you right now, and that’s how this thing works.

But you said you guys were chatting for a year.
She called me. It was as simple as a phone call, or text. We kicked it here and there, but it’s a mood thing. If we kick it and then you hear something you don’t like… well alright, now we gotta deal with Apple, Spotify, the business part of this. Everybody has to be on the same accord. So if her and I weren’t on the same accord, I don’t want to speak for anybody but Apple and Spotify seem to be on the same accord if we agreed to do this. It’s everybody having to acknowledge some things.

Now what those things are, you have to ask those people. But we were able to get it done. I loved it. I love having the dialogue with people I’ve either been candid about in the past or people I think the people maybe have a hard time understanding what’s going on. When the artist disagrees with some s—, open it up, let’s talk. Let’s kick it. You want to yell, you want to scream, you want to curse? Joe don’t care. We chillin’.

She accused you of lying, does that sting?
No, not at all. You could just not agree with somebody. [chuckles] That’s the part I kept trying to say on Queen Radio: I don’t have to believe you because you’re saying it. I’m not saying you’re a liar, I learned that long ago too. There’s a big difference between you’re a liar and I don’t believe you. I’m taking the ownership: you could be telling the absolute truth, I just think it’s  bulls—.

She said you’re intimidated by strong women and beat up on the weak, care to respond? 
I would love to know who Joe beats up on. I try not to beat up on a soul. I try. I mean, when does it happen? Only woman I can ever remember raising my voice at really was my co-host on on my show, and that was a creative space. I’m talking about Scottie on State of the Culture. I raised my voice at her one day and I didn’t like how that looked. It never looks right.

What does he do to piss you off? 
She didn’t piss me off. In a creative space, you should be able to yell. I don’t believe that you can create if you don’t have the ability to yell. If you don’t have the ability to f–king get loud, that’s just what I believe. That’s what that was. That’s how I conduct my shows, I want organic conversation. If it’s not going to be that way, then what are we here for? If you can’t yell at me, I can’t yell at you — but we’re in a different time. Times are different where there’s a lot of sensitivity toward how women are treated because of what we witnessed and n–as wildin’. You got to be careful. I think the lines are blurred, honestly. It’s tough when Nicki says something like that, because she has so much influence.

And the Barbz…
I don’t care about the Barbz. The Hives, I’m not a Hive guy. But she just has a lot of influence, so you want to be careful with things like that.

Are you a fan of Nicki’s music? ‘Cause she thinks you’re a fire rapper. 
I am. She’s dope.

Favorite Nicki song?
My favorite Nicki song is probably “Moment 4 Life.” It’s an amazing song.

How important is Nicki in modern rap/hip-hop?

All the women are important, period. Really important, that’s my answer. She’s really important. That’s the part I can’t wrap my head around, like you’re too important for this. Your position shouldn’t be this, but it’s tough to tell somebody that they shouldn’t feel a way or they shouldn’t do. I’ve never been at the top of that mountain she’s been on, so I can’t see her view. Neither can any of us, but I would think her focus would be elsewhere.

What do you make of her issues with other radio personalities like Charlamagne and DJ Envy? 
None of my business. I wasn’t there, I can’t speak for it. I have my own relationship with Charlamagne and Envy. I can’t speak for their beefs. I don’t care about any of this s—. I don’t care about their beefs, I don’t care about “Motorsport,” don’t care about any of that s—. I care about today and tomorrow, not yesterday.

In general, how do you think radio handles today’s hip-hop stars?
I try not to listen to radio, for real. Because what’s on the radio? What is on the radio? I’ve experienced it, so I know what it is when an artist goes through radio. “What are you promoting? What are your bullet points?” Like no. I couldn’t tell you what the standing is in radio, I’m in the streaming world. I’m in the podcasting world. Radio just sounds archaic almost. It’s a never-ending battle. I’m so glad I’m retired so I don’t have to see the nonsense. Well it’s new nonsense now.

Has teaming up with Revolt helped impact the culture? How do you see that from where you sit?
Important conversations that need to be had on a platform owned by a Black man. I can’t overstate the importance of all of it. When I left Complex with a child on the way, unemployed, no idea where the next check was coming from, it felt really good that there was a black man with a network who said “don’t worry about it. Let’s figure this out.” That was super important. The show does great, the feedback is great, the engagement is great, Puff has been great. It’s all been great!

What are the pros and cons of being on “Love & Hip-Hop?”
Pros? Visibility is good I guess. It’s good when senior citizens come up to you, it’s only reason why they’re coming up to me. It’s a demographic I probably wouldn’t have targeted otherwise. How else would a 70-year-old know who Joe Budden is? Listen when I’m in the streets, the range of people who approach me between my rap career, my media career, my reality television career, it’s nuts.

The cons, everybody know the cons. Listen, anything that’s a pro can be a con. That same visibility I’m saying is great, if you don’t know how to handle yourself, if you don’t know how to control yourself, if you have bad relationships, bad people skills or a temper, the visibility can be bad. I haven’t had that experience on Love & Hip-Hop outside of a few chicks throwing things at me. If you know how to effectively communicate, you should be okay.

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Are you able to walk freely here in Los Angeles? 
I’m not ever really bombarded. I’ve never been that famous, or I try to avoid those environments. Wherever I would be bombarded, I try not to go. I love it out here, I f–k with the fans out here. It’s funny that in my retirement, I f–k with the fans a whole lot more than I did probably when I should’ve. We have fun, we kick it, we talk. I’m open to criticism. I’m open to somebody saying, “Hey, you’re the 200th best rapper in the world!” and we can laugh. There’s no ego involved today. I’m not competing today, I’m not trying to prove anything today.

You’ve pointed to Information in the past as the game-changer. How is that?
Ownership, information about bad deals, the do’s and don’ts, what not to do, who to stay away from, the labels that might be shady, how not to lose all of your money, how not to get robbed by your business account. Information at 21 in an industry that targets and takes advantage of 21-year-olds. I didn’t have that in 2001. Talking to n–gas like him, I feel like we’re winning a relay race. Pass the baton, keep passing it and who knows where we’ll be in the next 50 years.

In 1979, they told us this s— was ass and it wouldn’t be around. Now we’re the No. 1 everything genre. Everywhere, No. 1 influencers, No. 1 everything — and with that comes a lot of weight. When you hear someone as talented and as established as Nicki Minaj in a moment like yesterday, it’s okay. We go through sh– here. We feel sh– here, we passionate about sh– here. Unfortunately when we do all those things, it’s in front of the viewing public. If you don’t sign up for that, why are we here?

How different would your rap career in your prime be in this climate?
In my prime, I’d be huge. The time is more suited for me and what I wanted to do. When I got to Def Jam, they said, “You need a big single that’ll work on radio.” I said, “Well, what if I just really like this song a lot? Why can’t I just put this one song I like a lot out? The people who liked that song purchase my album.” When they told me my album was coming out two months from today, I said, “I got a few people over here who would buy right now.” If we put it out, they’ll buy it.

The exact way the music business functions today, those are all the questions I was asking in 2001. Getting bullsh– answers. I came in 2001 as a mental health guy. That was my story, it was very big. In 2001, the only stories were shooters, 50, the dealers, the hustlers. It wasn’t the n–as who were getting high and the n–as who drugs were affecting. Today, you probably can’t talk to a rapper without there being a mental health conversation. My content is better suited for what people are experiencing today, which is why I’m super glad I don’t make music right now. Because that wasn’t my true talent. More people need my voice. More people need the information wouldn’t have received it if I packaged it in a Joe Budden song. If I’m lucky, some other people might like it too. That’s not the case today.

Today, we can talk and whoever needs the information, gravitates towards the information. Don’t matter if “I don’t like Joe Budden’s voice, he’s cocky or he acts stupid,” none of it matters. We information sharing. We music sharing. I talk to music lovers, I keep it very simple today. Not complicated at all.

Describe your fashion sense? 
Comfortable and me. I don’t care. I don’t be caring man. I don’t give a f—. That same I don’t give a f— is exactly why I’ve been a walking meme for the past 15 years. Because who cares, except for the internet.

Thinking about starting a fedora line? 
I told Ian, my manager, to get on that a year ago, I don’t know what the hold up is to be honest. A fedora line, a sweatsuit line, I love sweatsuits. Our time on this earth is limited, we got a lot to do. I’d like to do those both.

What’s your ambition at this point in your life? 
To make the most of my time here. To continue to grow, to continue to expand, mature, and learn, meet people, laugh and love. I want to spend the rest of my days doing that. I don’t have time to argue. When people yell at you in a nice fancy studio, don’t yell back. God is good.

With additional reporting by A.D. Amorosi

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