Editors’ Notes Escape Route displays the most personal and sincere rhymes of Joe Budden’s career. On “Clothes On a Mannequin” the Harlem native vents the frustration of an artist whose quest for success has left him dubious and depleted: “I'm too annoyed to cope, tryin’ to make a livin’ / Given I don’t think that being a dope boy is dope / Out of every story, only two end in glory / Who am I to think I'm different than every hustler before me?” Escape Route is dotted with striking moments of self-revelation, and although the beats are dirty and aggressive throughout, songs like “Forgive Me,” “State of You” and “Never Again” address subjects such as aging, self-doubt, and internal strife with a candor and clarity rarely seen in modern day rap music. In the last verse of “State of You” Budden breaks into unprecedented emotional territory: “Or is it how I view life, and how vacant it is / Watch me and see a horrible movie, bad reviews / Scattered views with a cold heart, wrong attitude / I ain't got a thing in common with these rapper dudes / Okay, aside from some drawn-out thoughts, mags and tools / I don't think they know what it FEEL like to be battered, bruised.”

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