The question that any artist would rightfully ponder when coming off of a project like Tana Talk 3 is “How do I follow that up?” For Benny The Butcher and the Griselda staff, their almost overwhelming consistency seems to alleviate any such pressure.
His latest project Plugs I Met is a concise (at seven-songs), yet meticulously crafted work of art that not only manages to further illustrate what a problem he is with the bars but — for longtime fans — delivers a guest list you’d expect for an artist affiliated with Shady.
With a soundscape crafted by frequent collaborators Daringer, DJ Shay, and Alchemist, Benny managed to get verses from Jadakiss, Black Thought, and Pusha T. Managed is the key because these verses absolutely deliver — Kiss and Pusha went the extra mile. None of them overpower or out rap the Buffalo wordsmith.
There is this strong sense of respect that Benny and his crew hold; they’ve really been through their bars. In a recent interview, he notes that the bulk of these features were set up via Instagram DM — and that he himself was genuinely humbled that they (particularly Pusha) was with it.
This almost endearing ignorance (whether it’s real or not) to his current status is actually a recurring theme in his rhymes across this project. “My bitch keep saying I’m famous, but it ain’t hit me, I’m too ghetto‘d out this Hollywood shit tricky,” he raps on The DJ Shay-produced “Crowns for Kings” alongside the GOAT Black Thought. A song sure to spark “Renegade” level arguments.
“5 to 50” sees him reiterating his “fresh out the gutter” aesthetic over an absolutely gorgeous, atmospheric banger The Alchemist — featuring India sharing memories of the cops banging in their door juxtaposed with a refreshing sense of calm as they’ve since been afforded a better life as a result of Benny’s success.
It’s this coming to terms with success as a man in his 30’s that has been there and done the things a lot of rappers claim to have done that seems to be the seasoning continuing to make everything Benny chefs up so appetizing.
At the end of the day, money can — and has — changed everything in many Hip Hop timelines. Any concern that a major label move may dilute the Griselda brand seems to be something that has long been dispelled. Much like his past projects, Plugs I Met, which also includes solid contributions from the almighty Conway The Machine and Benny’s BSF artist RJ Payne (on the Daringer and Beat Butcha-helmed “Dirty Harry”) is propelled by this infectious hunger that manages to stay intact.
When it comes to the question of how you follow up a project mentioned by many in the same sentence as the word classic, the answer ultimately appears to be, “like this.”