Who’s Winning: Jay-Z Or Joe Budden?

Along with being quite possibly the only place on Earth (well, the only place on Earth outside of prison) where you might able to purchase Kevin Hart DVDs, lobster rolls, sneakers, lightly-used cocaine, and insurance all in the same day, the barbershop is one of the few places that consistently manages to at least whelm. Perhaps you wont be overwhelmed, but you won’t be underwhelmed either. While other entities sometimes have a mystique that surpasses the experience, no one ever visits a popular Black barbershop for the first time and leaves thinking “That kinda sucked. Don’t know what the big deal was.”

This experience is largely due to the fact that the barbershop’s dynamic ensures that there will be a diverse group of men—students, garbagemen, drug dealers, teachers, lawyers, bloggers, etc—of all ages. And, when you sit a diverse group of men in the same general area—with no women around—conversations happen. Interesting conversations. Conversations that you may not be able to have anywhere else.

For instance, last week the discussion was centered around the new season of Love and Hip-Hop. And by “the new season of Love and Hip-Hop” I mean “Tahiry Jose’s religion-inducing ass.” For the uninitiated, Tahiry Jose is the ex-girlfriend of B-minus-list rapper Joe Budden. She was made internet famous a couple years ago when Budden would occasionally release mundane home videos of him and Tahiry doing things like “making dinner,” “arguing about soap,” and “sitting on chairs.” In each video, though, Tahiry’s, um, assets were the protagonist, antagonist, climax, rising action, and exposition, and this exposure led to her being featured in numerous Black magazines, several videos, and now Love and Hip-Hop.

Anyway, the conversation then segued to Joe Budden’s dating history. Now, despite the fact that I’m sure there will be a few of you who are hearing Joe Budden’s name right now for the first time ever, he has two very notable claims to fame in certain segments of the Black male population.

1. He’s one of the best mixtape/freestyle rappers ever. (And, to be clear, not freestyle in the “top of the dome” sense, but freestyle in the “spit 16 or 32 written bars over someone else’s hot beat while you’re in the studio on Shade 45″ sense)

2. His dating history.

From Esther Baxter and Gloria Velez to Yaris Sanchez and Tahiry Jose, Budden has been romantically linked to a dozen or so of the most famous (and unfortunately named) video vixens and internet models ever. While none of these women are household names, any male (Black, White, or Laker Fan) familiar with any of the popular urban magazines (King, XXL, Smooth, etc) definitely know who each of them are.

(There’s also a popular sub-conversation about Budden’s history that basically asks “How the hell is he able to bag all these sought after women?” There are a few theories—he makes great use of social media, he’s well-endowed, etc—but mine is a bit less flattering. I think the only difference between ***insert random rapper or ball-player*** and Joe Budden is that while ***insert random rapper or ball-player*** may sleep with these women on the low, Budden lets everyone know who he happens to be dating. Basically, for people in those circles, these women aren’t really sought after at all, and he just makes public what others are doing privately)

This knowledge prompted one of the patrons in the shop to remark “Budden is f*cking winning! Don’t no one have a badder batch of bitches than he does.” While I was appreciating the unexpected burst of alliteration, the entire shop predictably co-signed. Emboldened with confidence, he took it a step further.

“Shit, Jigga aint even f*cking with him right now.”

The utter audaciousness of that statement quieted the chorus of co-signs. One of the barbers made a face so stank it looked like buffalo just pissed in his beard. Undeterred, he continued.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Beyonce is the baddest chick in the game and all that. But would you rather have Beyonce or a different Beyonce every month?”

Surprisingly, he was quickly and vehemently shot down. (I honestly was surprised how unanimously that particular population of men disagreed with him.) A statement made by one of the older barbers summed up the general sentiment.

“That’s your age talking, yo. Beyonce is a dimepiece worth a billion dollars. The point of the game is to end with the best chick possible and build something with her. Game over. End of discussion. You a f*cking fool if you think otherwise.”

Regardless of how you may personally feel about Beyonce, I’m assuming that the vast majority of the people reading this agree with the barber. While a revolving door of King cover girls may seem appealing, ultimately the best, the most mature, and the smartest thing to do would be to find one woman to build with, a woman who brings her own considerable goods to the table. In the game of life, Jay-Z is beating Budden so badly that they’re not even keeping score anymore.

But, if you remove Beyonce, Budden, Jay-Z, and the video vixens from the discussion, the conversation changes. If given the choice between A) meeting the person of your dreams and spending the rest of your life with that person or B) meeting, dating, sleeping with an assembly line of unfathomably attractive mates, which do you choose?

The “obvious” answer, the politically correct answer, and my answer are all the same: Finding the person of your dreams, and maintaining a good to great relationship with them is the easy choice. But, this choice isn’t so obvious to everyone. George Clooney, Derek Jeter, John Mayer, and, shit, Rihanna—all people who have the ability to date pretty much whoever they want and have been romantically linked with dozens of different extremely attractive mates—might argue that option B is better, and they’d each probably have a very convincing argument.

There’s still no doubt in my mind that when comparing a Jay-Z (a person who has met and married the “person of their dreams”) and a Budden (a person who meets and “greets” a different woman of a hundred thousand wet dreams every month), the Jay-z is definitely “winning.” But, I also have to admit that not every one plays the game the same way (or for the same purpose), and just because I think you’re playing wrong doesn’t mean you’re not “winning” too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)