By Nick Sligh
Despite making great music for nearly the past two decades, Benny The Butcher is a name that has spent much of this century only in underground circles. Following a run of incredible projects with 2018’s “Tana Talk 3,” 2019’s “The Plugs I Met” and 2020’s “Burden of Proof,” Benny is now beginning to fully come into the spotlight and gain the respect and recognition of being one of the best current rappers.
An elite delivery, unrelenting authenticity and incredible penmanship are just some of the traits that set him apart. As a key member of Griselda Records, Benny has been influential in bringing grimy street rap back to the forefront of the scene of modern hip-hop, contributing significantly to Griselda’s success, quality and consistency.
Harry Fraud, the executive producer of “The Plugs I Met 2,” is coming into 2021 following a handful of projects produced last year, most notably including his collaboration with Curren$y, “The OutRunners.” Fraud is known for a unique production catalog featuring creative samples, an East Coast influence and a diversity in style. “Burden of Proof” showed that Benny is more than willing to expand his style and production selection, and it will be interesting to see what kinds of production are offered throughout “The Plugs I Met 2.”
Benny is simply one of the best rappers right now, so my expectations for this project are understandably very high. Obviously, opinions can change greatly about an album as time passes. However, here are my initial reactions on my first listen of the album.
Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud: “The Plugs I Met 2” (March 19, 2020)
- “When Tony Met Sosa”
Opening with a triumphant, jazzy instrumental is a fantastic start and a great fit with Benny’s style. The performance from Benny is elite, with a verse to start the album that is on point. It’s just a great intro overall; I really feel like I could have listened to this one for way longer than two and a half minutes. If this level of quality continues, this will be a special project.
- “Overall” ft. Chinx
This beat has a more laid-back feel to it and even somewhat of a dark and tropical vibe looped into the background of the production. It gives the feeling of a Griselda late night car ride through Havana. Benny’s first two verses are quality, and the Chinx feature meshes really well with the track. Another very good song.
- “Plug Talk” ft. 2 Chainz
This song definitely takes the vibe much darker than the first two songs: Certainly a vintage Harry Fraud beat with the dark soul sample looped throughout. The chemistry between Benny and Fraud definitely appears to be in full sync. 2 Chainz’ feature is a really welcome addition, finishing off another positive addition to the project.
- “Live by It”
“Live by It” is definitely a solid song, but probably the least intriguing of the first four so far. Benny’s performance is great, as always, with an always-nice delivery and enjoyable verses. However, the production is just a little less captivating than some other songs. A bad song by no means, and truthfully a pretty good addition still.
- “Talkin’ Back” ft. Fat Joe
An interesting beat — maybe not my favorite, but another vibe that appropriately fits the thematics and sound of the album so far. A good first verse by Benny is followed by an energetic Fat Joe verse that isn’t that bad (with the exception of that “Wuhan Virus” bar…). This won’t be one of the stronger songs on the project.
- “No Instructions”
The sixth track mellows the vibe down again, following the upbeat and energetic “Talkin’ Back.” I’m really enjoying Benny’s slowed delivery here and the really soulful verses. Although the sound might not be the most attention-grabbing, this song is really great on first listen, and a great introspective track from Benny.
- “Longevity” ft. French Montana & Jim Jones
First thought: Why is there a French Montana feature on this album? Anyway, Benny’s style continues to fit the Harry Fraud samples and drum kicks so effortlessly. He has really proven he can rap on basically any beat at this point, and matching him with great beats from Harry Fraud is almost unfair. French Montana’s verse is bad (as expected), and I honestly don’t know how or why he ended up on the project. Jim Jones’ verse is decent, not really captivating but not bad either. Benny’s first verse and a strong beat salvage the track to keep it solid.
- “Survivor’s Remorse” ft. Rick Hyde
Benny is back on the slow delivery over the slow and soulful beat from Harry Fraud. Again, the slowed production brings out the more introspective side of Benny’s artistry, focusing on some of the negative consequences of the lifestyle that he has lived. Rick Hyde’s verse suits the song and the theme well, and is followed by a last verse from Benny that really closes out a nice song well.
As the lead single to “The Plugs I Met 2,” “Thanksgiving” set a great tone for the album release, and now serves as a fitting outro to the project. The upbeat production brings the album back up and ends the album on a triumphant note. The outro allows Benny to close out the album on a great exposition of elite delivery and rapping, and closes out a very solid project.
Overall, on a first listen, I am pleased with Benny’s sequel to his 2019 EP. Harry Fraud’s production was impressive, as expected, providing Benny with an array of quality soul vocal samples, synths, varied percussion and consistently layered beats. Benny’s performance has never been bad on a project, and “The Plugs I Met 2” is no different. I feel comfortable saying that Benny has established himself as one of the best rappers in the current era, with such great delivery and technical prowess over the past few years that is matched by very few. Benny’s hunger and passion for his music has never left, and he has all of the skills to effortlessly fit a variety of sounds and make great music. The consistency of his run over the last few years is pretty hard to match in rap, and this project does nothing but help build his already established discography. I really appreciate the transitions from the triumphant feel of “When Tony Met Sosa” and “Thanksgiving” to the darker introspective feel of “No Instructions” and “Survivor’s Remorse,” and think that the variety of emotion contributes positively to the record. The variety of flows and deliveries is also very refreshing, and adds a lot. “The Plugs I Met 2” is one of the strongest releases of the year so far, and I expect it to hold that status.
Favorite Songs: “When Tony Met Sosa,” “No Instructions,” “Plug Talk,” “Overall”
Album Score: 80/100