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I listen to one podcast, and it is not my own.
At one point in my life, I spent hours a day listening to podcasts. I was extremely high on pills most of the time, but the medium was still newish at the time, and I was happily devouring WTF With Marc Maron, Reply All, and The Champs. The idea of being entertained in a fresh way took hold of me. Watching television during the day made me feel like a useless sloth, but this was different. I was happy to spend entire afternoons blissed out, enjoying some low-impact audio stimulation.
Then it got boring.
I spend about four hours a week cohosting How Long Gone, a show I love to make, but my interest in listening to podcasts has almost disappeared. I don’t bother with The Daily (I can read the news), any true-crime nonsense, or SmartLess, the podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes that sold to Amazon for the jaw-dropping sum of $80 million. (It’s How Long Gone if my cohost Jason Stewart and I were rich, and I avoid it purely because it makes me jealous.) I listen to music when I exercise and try to stroll the streets of New York City AirPod-free, to take in the sights and sounds.
But one show has remained in my queue as countless others have fallen by the wayside. Against all odds, it’s The Joe Budden Podcast, a show in which six friends argue about things I barely care about. I never miss an episode.
If you are over 35 and have done a shot of Patrón in a bottle-service club, you are familiar with Joe Budden’s 2003 hit “Pump It Up” and maybe even the remix featuring Jay-Z. Budden actually flirted with being a talking head in 2004, when he cohosted the Hot 97 Morning Show for a few months before quitting to go back to work on his sophomore album. He released music solo until 2008, when he joined the Eminem-co-signed “supergroup” Slaughterhouse, with Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Royce da 5’9″ (you don’t need to hear it). He also did some vlogging and took a turn on VH1’s long-running reality show Love & Hip-Hop. After he officially retired from rapping in 2018, he and shitposter and media personality DJ Akademiks started a web video show called Everyday Struggle for Complex that lasted only nine months.
Budden finally blossomed with his podcast, a weird, wild version of Howard Stern’s The Wack Pack, which he launched in 2016 as I’ll Name This Podcast Later. He says what’s on his mind in a way that is refreshing and sincere, but that also reflects his years and years of participation in the music industry. Unlike many podcasters, he speaks from experience, not speculation or facts he learned on Reddit.