Benny The Butcher’s collaborative LP with Grammy Award-winning producer Hit-Boy, Burden of Proof, was a leap in another direction — resulting in his most ambitious project to date.
Continuing this one-producer strategy, he ventures from West Coast prominence back to his East Coast origins to connect with famed hitmaker Harry Fraud for the follow-up to his critically acclaimed The Plugs I Met.
Its predecessor was decidedly more “Griselda-esque,” helmed by the grimey trio of Daringer, late DJ Shay and Alchemist. However, “La musica de Harry Fraud” gives the Plugs I Met 2 a completely different feel. Coming off a run that includes the recently released collaborative LP The Fraud Department with Jim Jones and projects with Curren$y, Mayhem Lauren and Larry June in the past year, the New York producer laces Benny with a quality batch of beats.
The Buffalo wordsmith doesn’t delve into unprecedented territory here, instead opting to hold true to the album’s title to the end. He lyrically bags up work on one of the LP’s brighter gems, “Longevity,” alongside a vintage Coke Boys-rapping French Montana as well as his longtime rival-turned-collaborator Jim Jones. French’s fellow NYC hustler, the late Chinx, also appears on another massive highlight, “Overall.”
And in spite of a flexing a feature from 2 Chainz, it’s Benny’s reformed hustler tone that commands the project.
He flips the coin on typical drug talk glorification. Where fans have become accustomed to his aggressive, violent approach, Plugs I Met 2 is Benny coming to terms that all ends of smoking gun lead to peril. Just see the slow-burning “No Instructions” — where he warns lost rappers atop a wailing horn and methodical drums — helping reiterate the fact he’s representing the exact opposite of clout chasing.
Benny’s lyrics are authenticated and fans can honestly hear him speaking directly to those who lived or may be living the life. However, even the nine-track effort has its ceiling. By the time he quips “I was the best cook, stepped on work with my right and left foot/Before you even knew how a connect looked,” opposite Rick Hyde on the unassuming penultimate track “Survivor’s Remorse,” it feels Benny exhausted the new life he was injectecting into old tales.
The cinematic build-up also begins to unravel musically when the choppy, discordant soul-sampling of “Thanksgiving” closes things out as Benny once again spins his wheels (“Let me take you back to that blue building, back in the day/Where I trapped them two for fifteens, plus that was my age.” What else has he been doing for the duration of the album?)
Benny The Butcher won’t be the first nor last venerable rapper to backtrack their past escapades but now that he’s black-belted his category, the music could stand for additional layering and creativity. (Yes, that’s even in regard to the ad-libbing rant found on “Thanksgiving” of doubling down on the drug talk.)
Nitpicking on the extra grams aside, with Plugs I Met 2, Benny not only adds a well-rounded arc to his discography but also solidifies his status as an elder statesman/role model for a new generation who could genuinely use the perspective.
While he’s just as guilty of glorifying his former lifestyle as any rapper, his music exemplifies the difference authenticity makes — especially in a crowded sea of drug-dealing cosplayers.
“Overall” f. Chinx
“Longevity” f. French Montana & Jim Jones