Benny the Butcher Brings a Fresh Voice to Familiar Themes on Harry Fraud Collab 'The Plugs I Met 2'
Published Mar 24, 2021Nowadays, rapping about guns and drugs is like painting fruit bowls and wildflowers. If you're looking to stand out creatively while exploring such well-trodden territory, you better come with a fresh spin, a vision or perspective that elevates you from the fray. Benny the Butcher is that dude. His pen bleeds ink, and his voice is dripping with wisdom earned the hard way.
Even after knocking out the first Billboard chart-topping record of the prolific Griselda onslaught — 2020's Hit-Boy collaboration LP Burden of Proof — the 36-year-old former street pharmacist can't forget where he came from. Hell, the man was shot in the leg and robbed for his chain just a few months back in Houston.
The shadows of the trap loom large on Benny's dense and detailed The Plugs I Met 2 EP, the sequel to 2019's impeccable original with producer DJ Shay. This time, New York underground producer Harry Fraud's soundscape elevates both the melancholy and menace to cinematic heights.
Standouts abound in this nine-track, 28-minute dose of this reality you don't want to live, this world where murders go "unsolved like a Tupac case." Yes, Benny invites some brand-name guests aboard: French Montana, Fat Joe, Jim Jones, Action Bronson and an on-point 2 Chainz, who drops the LOL line "I only care about me / Tell you 'happy birthday' on the wrong day." But the late bloomer is never outshone on his own tape.
His rapid-fire manner of nut-shelling his former career is addictive. Some examples: "Street niggas won't outlive their grandparents"; "My neighbourhood was super dangerous / A record deal would get you lit, but a robbery would make you super famous"; "You ain't a boss / Everybody on your team just broke."
Wrestling with survivor's guilt and oscillating between pride and paranoia, Buffalo's great game-spitter grabs the mic with deliberate intent, tucking jewels into single lines and enunciating every adlib and detail. The man knows how to colour a scene and self-analyze.
"This supposed to be success, then why the fuck I feel stressed out and guilty? / Damn, 'cause I'm paid and all my niggas in the feds or the grave — that shit kill me / That coulda been me," Benny rhymes on the excellent "Survivor's Remorse."
That Benny has endured the worst, that he managed to turn breadcrumbs into hedge funds, has empowered him to seize this spotlight. The themes might be as old as the genre itself, but the voice is as fresh and focused as any.
Now that he's out of bars, he has no intent to waste bars. As LeBron James tweeted upon the release of Plugs 2: "Man I get so excited when [Benny the Butcher] drop new music!!! Only a few I juiced for and he's one of them." (Black Soprano Family / SRFSCHL)