Written by: ServeLikeSampras
First and foremost I have my personal grievances with Complex as a company. Complex markets itself as a media platform geared towards the urban world and rap in general. And by urban I’m of course referring to Black culture. While Complex does a good job of staying culturally relevant and maintaining an ear to the streets, it’s employees do not reflect their intended demographic. Taken from this article circa 2015, only 4 of their staff members were Black.
Rap and Hip Hop have expanded exponentially since it’s initial inception in the 1970’s. It was originally a primarily Black art form but has grown to encompass other ethnic groups as well. Being Black is not the determining factor in your appreciation or knowledge of the culture. But admittedly it does give you a heightened perspective and an intimate relationship with certain things due to a shared common background. People who do not come from these same backgrounds will never be able to identify or quite truly understand where a lot of artists are coming from.
When the majority of your staff does not physically or visually represent rap, how can you then speak on it? How can you speak for the culture when you yourself do not reflect the culture? How can use your media platform to push the culture forward when the majority of your employees are not even from that culture? It’s a conundrum which causes me to side eye a lot of the opinions and articles published by them. It makes sense how Complex can routinely have such ludicrous and ridiculous views considering who’s actually voicing them.
Originally I liked the idea behind the Everday Struggle show. It seemed to be pitting old vs new. The Internet vs the streets. Generation X vs Millennials. The comparisons go on ad infinitum. The format seemed great pitting a fairly well-known rapper, Joe Budden, against a fairly well-known Internet celebrity, DJ Akademiks.
The first episode of the show aired April 10th of this year. I initially liked the first episode and the quirky banter between DJ Akademiks and Joe Budden. But as the episodes progressed and I continued to watch that once witty and funny banter grew into incessant disrespect. Sometimes whole topics would abruptly be cut short simply because Joe Budden didn’t feel like talking about them. Whole episodes became ruined by Joe Budden’s mood swings and random spurts of anger.
Joe Budden seems incapable of voicing an opinion without getting obnoxiously loud. Even without a microphone, his voice echoes the loudest on the show with no care or regard for anyone else. Complex routinely lets him get away with this too. Certain times his veins enlarge to cartoonish proportions as his beet red face screams at a gibbering DJ Akademiks while Nadeska twiddles her thumbs. This show could honestly be renamed to Joe Budden cussing because that’s all he seems to do.
Joe Budden is a rapper in the twilight of his career. The highlight and peak of his career was Pump it up, a track that was released fourteen years ago. His lyricism and technical abilities as a rapper cannot be denied. He’s one of the best to do it in that regard. But more often than not on this show he comes off as the angry old man screaming at you to get off his lawn, dissatisfied with his own musical career.
Joe Budden doesn’t even attempt to remain musically relevant. How can you have a good show when one-half of it refuses to even be informed about the musical climate? Often times DJ Akademiks has to inform a clueless Joe Budden about the artists in relation to the current topic. Joe Budden is the same individual who believes Young Thug, who is projected to sell 5K for his latest project, is on the same star level as Future. And let’s not even get into the whole Lil Yachty debacle.
On the flip side, we have DJ Akademiks who is supposed to represent a younger demographic and the internet as a whole. DJ Akademiks originally found his niche making satire videos about the numerous killings in Chicago. It eventually spawned into something bigger and he created a lane doing what most people on internet forums do for free. I was largely indifferent towards him as an internet persona prior to this show. Some of his content was informing but his input was often times clownish and corny.
On this show, he appears to have no backbone. He is routinely laughed at and disrespected by his co-hosts as well as the guests. His own co-hosts don’t even attempt to stick up for him when a guest belittles him. Most recently we’ve seen it with Vic Mensa who just straight up told him he was a bitch to his face. Things got quite heated and neither Joe Budden nor Nadeska appeared to care.
DJ Akademiks needs to realize that he’s no longer a faceless voice on the internet. People have real access to him on this show and his face is a visible one. His comments are under a much higher microscope and will be scrutinized as such. I expect to see much more of this as his past comments made in jest come back to haunt him on camera. Unfortunately for him, there’s not much he can do about because of the lack of respect people hold for him.
If DJ Akademiks was a tougher guy ala Taxstone, Joe Budden and guests wouldn’t even try it. All the animated screaming Joe Budden does would be muted because he would know his co-host wouldn’t mind putting hands on him off camera. But DJ Akademiks isn’t a tough guy. It’s part of his brand but it’s a blessing and curse as well.
Last but not least we have Nadeska, whose purpose I can’t even figure out. She’s easily the worst moderator I’ve seen on any show that I watch. Even calling her a moderator is being generous because most of the time she’s the one being told what to do by Joe Budden. Joe Budden dictates when segments end. Joe Budden dictates what topics are going to be discussed, because if he doesn’t want to talk about it- it won’t happen. Nadeska would be better suited operating a camera behind the scenes because all she really does is observe.
This show is just a haphazard mess. It’s a forced collaboration between three, well actually two people, because Nadeska doesn’t actually do anything. Sulfur and copper have more chemistry than anyone on this show. Honestly, DJ Akademiks doesn’t really need to do this. He’s built his own platform and is more relevant in today’s era than Joe Budden has been for a long time. Joe Budden can return to Slaughterhouse, the cast of Hip Hop and chasing Drake fans.
This show needs a lot of work and improvement if it’s going to even last a year. But the number one area of needs is professionalism. I understand that it’s merely an internet show for Complex, but the simple fact that it has producers and a thought process behind everything requires a bit more tact and seriousness. A one-sided screaming match can be entertaining but never thought provoking. Until that one singular change is made this show will remain a struggle to watch.