Just when Clash thought we were out, he pulled us back in…
Benny The Butcher’s ‘Burden Of Proof’ was one of Stateside rap’s finest statements in 2020, part of Griselda’s golden year with the Buffalo label puncturing the mainstream with colossal hip-hop projects on a weekly basis. With Benny then making his acting debut in Conflicted – alongside some epic features – the MC could be forgiven for taking his foot off the pedal.
But no. ‘The Plugs I Met 2’ is a brand new project from Benny The Butcher, a collection of completely unreleased tracks. The slim tracklist – only nine on show – puts this as a project as opposed to an album, but it further underlines his reputation as one of the best pound for pound MCs out there, moving from tightly wound word-play to swaggering braggadocio via incisive insight in just a few bars.
‘When Tony Met Sosa’ is an assertive opener, the lyrics perfectly layered on top of one another, the endless word flow overpowering in its dexterity. The brutalist production continues on ‘Overall’, with Benny’s ruthless flow nestling up against a showstopping guest spot from Chinx.
‘Plug Talk’ switches up the production palette, with its eerie, distorted backing vocal set against harp sweeps that dip into outright melancholy. Pensive, menacing, and introspective, Benny’s performance is amplified by those potent 2Chainz bars, his Southern voice adding something different to the Griselda mainstay’s powerful testimony.
‘Live By It’ deals with the consequences of trap life, its brutal poetry finding some sense of meaning amidst the faceless statistics that dominate news channels. The retro soul sample that opens ‘Talkin Back’ dips into the 90s playbook, but there’s nothing wrong with that – fresh and immersive, it actually gives notice to Benny’s explosive ambitions: “Million dollar appetite it’s like I got a taste for one…”
‘No Instructions’ takes it down a notch, before ‘Longevity’ offers an all-star pair up with Benny linking alongside French Montana and Jim Jones. It’s not an arena-filling bumper, though; at every turn ‘The Plugs I Met 2’offers insight and revelation, with the three MCs asking difficult questions both of themselves and their audiences.
The spartan, ghostly ‘Survivor’s Remorse’ utilises a Burial-esque time-stretched sample, with Benny ruminating on the costs of success. Exploring the darkness at the end of the rainbow, he raps: “I think about it everyday – that could have been me…”
Ending with lead single ‘Thanksgiving’, this project was seemingly created around the period that Benny The Butcher crafted ‘Burden Of Proof’. It’s completely distinct, though – in part, that’s due to the production, with Harry Fraud steering the remorseless creativity and pensive sonic introspection on ‘The Plugs I Met 2’. As such, it’s less of a ‘Burden…’ expansion pack and more of a statement in its own right, one that underlines Benny The Butcher’s ascension as one of the most vital voices in rap today.
Words: Robin Murray
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