Album Review | HIP-HOP

Joe Budden, ‘No Love Lost’

What is it about love that drives so many MCs to lose artistic focus, as the consistently sharp-tongued Budden does on this wobbly solo effort dedicated solely to the subject? Budden has been releasing tart, clever music for a decade, but he sounds completely adrift here, struggling to articulate vulnerability or trying to figure out relationships. More problematic, he seems to have cherry-picked beats off a thrift store rack. Tracks like “Switch Positions” or “Tell Him Somethin’ ” are filled with cliched hooks and treacly piano lines, while “Runaway” features a generic hard rock guitar solo completely antithetical to the tenor of the disc. Of all the cameos, only his Slaughterhouse peers, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, seem not to have written their verses on napkins over coffee. The satisfying songs like “Castles” cut deeper and transcend superficial scenarios and insights. Next time Budden wants to write about needing love, consulting the young LL Cool J would be wise. (Out now) Ken Capobianco