Joe Budden Can’t Talk His Way Out of This Sexual-Harassment Controversy
The rapper-turned-podcast host is facing scrutiny from fans after he publicly fired his two longtime co-hosts and then was accused of sexual harassment by a fellow podcaster.
After his co-host DJ Akademiks struggled to understand Takeoff’s thick Atlanta accent while questioning whether he felt left out of the rap group’s hit song “Bad and Boujee,” Budden took things to another level. “Alright, we gotta wrap this up though,” Budden cut off Akademiks, leaving everyone exchanging confused glances over the abrupt interjection. “Then wrap it up then,” an annoyed Quavo quipped.
Akademiks attempted to salvage the last few seconds, describing Migos as one of his favorite groups, when Budden suddenly stands up, tosses his mic, and walks off the makeshift stage, shaking his head and muttering to himself. Feeling slighted, Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff all jump to their feet. Offset starts to roll up the cuff of his sleeve, as Budden calls out, “What you trying to do?”
Luckily, both parties’ teams quickly intervened before the matter came to blows, but Budden seemed unbothered in playing the role of antagonist. He shrugged off the confrontation and his lack of professionalism, explaining that he didn’t feel like talking to the rappers because they apparently never gave quality interviews. (The Daily Beast would beg to differ.)
It was Budden’s usual shtick, with the rapper-turned-podcast host acting out and then either brushing off criticism or doubling down. Holding significant sway within the hip-hop community, Budden has mostly been able to explain away potential controversies and troubling accusations, including rubbing his dogs’ genitals and domestic-abuse allegations from past partners.
But Budden can’t seem to talk his way out of the latest storm. This time, it seems the 40-year-old’s fans may have had enough of the habitual line-stepper.
The drama kicked off last week when Budden erupted during an episode of “The Joe Budden Podcast” and fired his longtime co-hosts Rory Farrell and Jamil “Mal” Clay on air. The men had failed to turn up to the episode’s taping after voicing frustration with Budden over a lack of respect and transparency in their business dealings.
The other shoe dropped on Monday when Olivia Dope, a former podcast host on “See, The Thing Is,” which falls under The Joe Budden Network umbrella, detailed how Budden sexually harassed her throughout an on-air podcast interview in January. She claimed he repeatedly made comments about how he wanted to have sex with her and at the close of the episode, Budden gave her a hug and thrust his hips at her.
Describing Budden’s actions as “extremely uncomfortable” in a 25-minute video, Dope said the “embarrassing situation” had “forced” her into the decision of quitting the podcast.
Both incidents have caused Budden’s typically loyal fan base to wonder if the outspoken radio personality had finally gone too far, with many bringing up his ex-girlfriend Tahiry Jose’s claims that he pushed her down a flight of stairs and how Cyn Santana, the mother of his son, also alleged domestic abuse. Budden has previously denied these claims. He did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Even Kevin Hart weighed in on Budden’s abrupt fallout with his two friends on his podcast “Straight from the Hart.”
“To see you publicly shit on the guys who were with you, that is an example of poor leadership,” he said. “That’s an example of why you are where you are. You want to be by yourself. You want to be king ding-a-ling. Wealth should be shared, not owned. It’s not just him, I don’t think Joe has that.”
Budden’s podcast in 2021 is a far cry from when he first started it in February 2015. One of the early pioneers in the ever-growing medium, Budden’s first episode was posted to SoundCloud and didn’t even have a name at the time, instead using a placeholder of “I’ll Name This Podcast Later,” which stuck. He discussed music, sports, hot topics, and anything that he deemed worthy of conversation.
At the time, his main co-host was Marisa Mendez and Rory played a lesser role in the conversation, but by August 2016 Mendez was gone and Rory remained. Mal joined the show in November, with all three men staples of the podcast since.
The show steadily grew in numbers across all platforms, including YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. After severing his relationship with Spotify last year, Budden scored his biggest deal yet with Patreon, announcing in February he would be housing his Joe Budden Network with the subscription-based platform, with pricing tiers set at $5, $10, and $25 a month. The Harlem native also became Patreon’s “head of creator equity,” a paid advisory role that works with the company to create new programs that financially benefit creators.
Yet it was ironic how, after railing against platforms over bad deals and not letting him have more ownership and financial stake in his content, his former longtime podcast co-hosts feel he has now done the same to them. They claim they both had percentage-based contracts directly tied to how much money the podcast brought in, yet Budden refused to hand over the accounting books, leaving them in the dark about how much money they actually were supposed to be making. When they pushed back against Budden, he accused them of being entitled.
Budden issued an apology in a statement provided to Rolling Stone which said, “As a podcaster, it is my job to address topics and create dialogue around them. During the conversation on the ‘See, The Thing Is’ podcast I didn’t handle the topics with the given sensitivity they deserved.”
“I recognize my words and power in that situation created an upsetting environment for Olivia. Upon reflection, both the network and I take accountability for this,” it continued. “I apologize sincerely to Olivia, her former co-hosts, our staff, and the public. In an effort to not further any trauma, the episode will be removed from all platforms.”
However, during his most recent podcast episode, Budden gave a brief, less somber apology to Dope before he cracked jokes and attempted to explain the breakdown in his working relationship with Rory and Mal.
Fans in the comment section were not impressed. “Joe be switching the convo whenever it gets too close or serious, he’ll try to make a joke or shame someone for their views then at the end he calls it performative art,” one wrote.
“Been a fan of Joe since the Mood Muzik days,” a second fan added. “Seen drama all this man life and for some reason always assumed it wasn’t his fault. After what happened with Rory, Mal, and the females at his ‘network’ I gotta accept dude for who he is. Can’t support this anymore.”