I have pretty much said everything about the collective Griselda that hasn’t already been said, and they are still continuing their grind in 2020 with projects from staples like Westside Gunn, Conway, and even newer additions like Armani Caesar and Boldy James. But one member has been quiet for the year… until now…
….that means the Butcher comin’!
Benny The Butcher has been considered the strongest of the core rappers of the group for his technical proficiency and street narratives. He garnered major attention back in 2018 with his debut album, Tana Talk 3, and since then he’s been on a roll with features, his later EP The Plugs I Met, the Griselda collective debut album from Shady and some of his own work on his other collective BSF aka Black Soprano Family.
Now he has his sophomore album out, and there are a few different aspects about it. The obvious change here seems to be that this is more of a mainstream push for Benny to a broader audience as the production is all handled by Hit-Boy, a Grammy Award-winning producer known for working big names like Travis Scott, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyonce, A$AP Rocky among others. There is also the first single released, “Timeless” featuring Big Sean and Lil’ Wayne, and I was curious to see how this would be.
So do I have proof of this being good?
Well, yes. Yes, I do.
I’ll get this one tidbit out of the way first: the production, as I stated before, is not the usual dirty, grimy beats you normally hear in a Griselda project. It’s more cleaned up and glossy in comparison but not in a way that feels slapped on and lazy. The beats do sound like something Benny would rap on, but it’s more like the style of Pusha T’s Daytona. Those beats still carry the roughness that he delivers but on a more clean, luxurious level.
I’m a Christian Dior shirt rocker, two Glock wearer
Only rapper that would’ve thrived in the 2Pac era
I’m talkin’ ’98 drug money, shoebox era (Shoebox era)
I proved my point once, in every take, the proof got clearer
Y’all niggas make threats (Huh), we pay killers and take bets
Fuck with us and end up bad like dope you can’t stretch (Hah)
Those lines come from the track “Sly Green”, referring to a local legend he knew from Buffalo that had an impact on him with what he meant in this street life, but it’s not from glorifying how he lived and recognized that the life they live is a double-edged sword. “Famous” is a track about making it in the game and how success changes everything in your life for better and worse, and I was into the message of it, although the whole ‘mo’ money, mo’ problems’ aspect has been mentioned in everything, but that’s more aimed at ones that might be out of control with cash.
What’s fame to a nigga like me? You gotta think
‘Cause I’m from the cocaine era, we extinct
I curve a bougie bitch, but I put a project bitch in a mink
She love street niggas, so we gon’ fuck the first day we link
“New Streets” is about rappers speaking about street life, but it mainly focuses on the luxurious aspect without talking about the consequences of that other than just prison and learning from your losses rather than just staying on your W’s all the time. Street storytelling like this always get me interested in what rappers like him go through and why this type of hip-hop is often the one I always listen to the most from his introspective points, especially about his late brother ChineGun, the one I mentioned in the Griselda album review last year.
The features here do deliver in was I both did and didn’t expect. I expected verses from Freddie Gibbs on “One Way Flight” to be both rappers giving those good bars like they did on “Frank Lucas” on Freddie Gibbs + The Alchemist’s Alfredo earlier this year, and we got the Griselda three-man round with “War Paint” with Conway and Westside Gunn. As expected, Gunn is on the hook and Conway has a damn good guest verse about how he shook Beyonce’s hand and brought happy tears to his girl. The Rick Ross verse on “Where Would I Go” is another example of him being a good feature alongside another street rapper, and going back to “Timeless”, the Lil’ Wayne and Big Sean features were pretty good. I thought Wayne’s verse was particularly good considering how mixed he’s been in his later years as a rapper, and Big Sean’s verse wasn’t too shabby especially with him owning his masters. The only one I wasn’t feeling much is Dom Kennedy’s hook on “Over The Limit,” and while the 80s-inspired production is an interesting aspect, it didn’t gel that much with me.
Overall, the risk that was made with Benny going for more soulful, early 90s-sounding hip-hop sounds from Hit-Boy really paid off while still having that gritty street narrative in there. Out of all the Griselda projects that’ve been released this year, it immediately shot up to the top possibly in between Westside Gunn’s Pray for Paris and Boldy James’ The Versace Tape.
Final Verdict: BUY IT. It’s proof that the Butcher came, saw and continues to conquer.
Burden of Proof is on Griselda Records/EMPIRE and available on digital download and streaming services. CD release date is Mid-November and Vinyl release date is January 2021.