Rap Twitter usually deals with things on a very surface level,” says the notoriously argumentative rapper Joe Budden, now a cohost of the spirited web talk show Everyday Struggle. “We peel the layers back. [Cohost] Akademiks is gonna give me every single thought from a consumer perspective, and I’m gonna shit on all of it,” he says. “Because I hate consumers.”
“Hate” is the operative word in Budden’s relation to most things. Joe Budden is a hater. He isn’t built for the modern digital economy of likes. On Everyday Struggle, and in general, he speaks from a position of permanent dissent. Which isn’t to say that Budden isn’t constructive with his criticism. After all, he’s worked in the music industry — with as many failures as successes — since 2000. With 17 years’ worth of career insights, Budden brings an ex-jock’s sort of perspective to a show that’s very much modeled off of ESPN’s success with the talking-head format.
Complex Media — a millennial-targeting news and lifestyle web brand and (disclosure) my former employer — produces daily episodes of Everyday Struggle to turn trending Rap Twitter conversations (Lil Yachty’s longevity, Meek Mill’s comeback, Nicki Minaj vs. Remy Ma) into captivating video content. These aren’t boilerplate news segments, but staged, dramatic take showdowns. “What makes sports commentary so compelling is that you have this mix of journalists and retired players,” says Complex chief content officer Noah Callahan-Bever, who created the show. “The beauty of retired players is that they can be completely unfiltered because they no longer have to worry about their relationships with franchises, ownerships, or teammates.” Everyday Struggle is host-driven, with only five interviews so far in its six-week run, so Budden is hardly worried about alienating sources or talent. “I don’t make calls,” he says. “I’m not looking to confirm or deny some shit. I’m just gonna give my opinion on it. This is an opinion-based show. I don’t want to talk to people. I don’t want guests. I only want to talk to Nadeska and Akademiks.”
So, every morning, Monday through Thursday, three irreconcilable perspectives gather to get a head start on the day’s music news. Budden, DJ Akademiks (real name Livingston Allen), and the Complex News anchor Nadeska Alexis debate new songs and the latest hip-hop gossip with louder conviction than is strictly necessary. On set, there’s a row of blue and white Everlast boxing gloves arranged under the table just so you know that it could go down at any moment.
Everyday Struggle isn’t the first time that a media company has slotted breakout Rap Twitter personalities into a live-action format. The comedy duo Desus and Mero, who previously worked with Complex and MTV2, now anchor a nightly, self-titled talk show on Viceland. Desus & Mero and Everyday Struggle both take their programmatic cues from ESPN’s lightning-round talk shows Pardon the Interruption and First Take. (Erik Rydholm created Pardon the Interruption, and he produces Desus & Mero for Viceland.) But where Desus & Mero is a happy, relaxing half hour where two amicable comedians laugh at each other’s jokes and make their guests feel at home, Everyday Struggle is a knock-down, drag-out battle between Budden and Akademiks — two men starkly separated by age and disposition. Akademiks, 27, is yappy and enthusiastic. Budden, 36, is dismissive and brutal. Alexis, our dear moderator, is slick and unflappable. It’s a lively dynamic, prone to explosion whenever Budden and Akademiks broach even the slightest disagreement about the most fleeting genre concern.
The show’s hottest topic as of late has been the relentlessly upbeat, teenybopper rapper Lil Yachty — a hater’s archnemesis. In the past year, the 19-year-old has drawn attention to hip-hop’s most contentious intergenerational rift. The old guardsmen have invoked Yachty as a sign of rap’s disintegration as lyrical craft. Budden and Akademiks have sparred over Yachty since the premiere of Everyday Struggle. In May, as Yachty was making the press rounds to promote his debut album, Teenage Emotions, the young rapper sat with Budden, Akademiks, and Alexis as their show’s first guest. Naturally, Budden dominated the interview, seizing the opportunity to call Yachty’s goofy trolling and happy-go-lucky ignorance a shtick to the rapper’s face. “You would be lying to tell me that, as a young man in this industry, in this music industry, in the music business, you are happy 24–7,” Budden yelled at Yachty, who took the older rapper’s volleys in stride. “That is a lie! That is bullshit. And I refuse to have somebody tell me bullshit! I want to have an honest conversation!”
Source: the ringer