Benny The Butcherâ€™s collaborative LP with Grammy Award-winning producer Hit-Boy, Burden of Proof, was a leap in another direction â€” 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 â€œGriselda-esque,â€ helmed by the grimey trio of Daringer, late DJ Shay and Alchemist. However, â€œLa musica de Harry Fraudâ€ 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 doesnâ€™t delve into unprecedented territory here, instead opting to hold true to the albumâ€™s title to the end. He lyrically bags up work on one of the LPâ€™s brighter gems, â€œLongevity,â€ alongside a vintage Coke Boys-rapping French Montana as well as his longtime rival-turned-collaborator Jim Jones. Frenchâ€™s fellow NYC hustler, the late Chinx, also appears on another massive highlight, â€œOverall.â€
And in spite of a flexing a feature from 2 Chainz, itâ€™s Bennyâ€™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 â€œNo Instructionsâ€ â€” where he warns lost rappers atop a wailing horn and methodical drums â€” helping reiterate the fact heâ€™s representing the exact opposite of clout chasing.
Bennyâ€™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 â€œI was the best cook, stepped on work with my right and left foot/Before you even knew how a connect looked,â€ opposite Rick Hyde on the unassuming penultimate track â€œSurvivorâ€™s Remorse,â€ 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 â€œThanksgivingâ€ closes things out as Benny once again spins his wheels (â€œLet me take you back to that blue building, back in the day/Where I trapped them two for fifteens, plus that was my age.â€ What else has he been doing for the duration of the album?)
Benny The Butcher wonâ€™t be the first nor last venerable rapper to backtrack their past escapades but now that heâ€™s black-belted his category, the music could stand for additional layering and creativity. (Yes, thatâ€™s even in regard to the ad-libbing rant found on â€œThanksgivingâ€ 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 heâ€™s just as guilty of glorifying his former lifestyle as any rapper, his music exemplifies the difference authenticity makes â€” especially in a crowded sea of drug-dealing cosplayers.
â€œOverallâ€ f. Chinx
â€œLongevityâ€ f. French Montana & Jim Jones