You can’t call Benny The Butcher anything other than sincere.
On “Broken Bottles,” a track from his gloriously grimy 2018 album Tana Talk 3, the Buffalo, New York rapper and Griselda Records signee made fans a promise other rappers might solely use as a flex:
“I heard they sick about me rapping ‘bout the drugs I stretch / I’ma write a whole album ‘bout the plugs I met”
From any other spitter who cut their teeth with Arm & Hammer, this would be a boast for the ages, but Benny’s snarl has always meant business. His raps are stoic and clear-eyed, cleaving their way through corner stores with the ferocity of his namesake.
Almost seven months to the day Tana Talk 3 hit digital streets, The Butcher returns to deliver his latest project The Plugs I Met to his eager clientele. With a reputation for outrapping his cousins Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine, Benny has more than earned his place in the GxFR court. Let's find out if he can keep up with the demand.
In usual one-listen album review fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. "Intro Skit"
Someone is telling the story of a wolf licking a blade while its tongue bleeds. The audio sample intro is a Griselda staple. Hardcore shit. I don’t know why any being on this Earth would do such a thing.
2. "Crowns for Kings" ft. Black Thought
A nice thumping low-end I’d expect to hear in a cigar-heavy nightclub. I love the haze on the beat. Benny came in hard and swift, talking that cash shit. “Put a Benz in a brick, and toss that back in the blender” sounds like the worst and most profitable mistake a child could ever make. Benny has a way of making tried-and-true stories pop. BLACK THOUGHT! “Try to cop more rides than Great Adventure,” the Gawd is in the house. Benny and Black are on their Bebop and Rocksteady right now. Until now, I never noticed how complementary their rapping styles are: descriptive and colorful, but to the ballpoint. Benny has set a high bar. I’ll be back.
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3. "Sunday School" ft. 38 Spesh & Jadakiss
Boom bap makes piano keys sound so filthy. I feel like I’m walking through a haunted house. “Spent my daughter first birthday locked in the hole.” Benny’s given time to be here. The keys sound like they’re being plucked with Benny’s cleavers. “Fiends still hit me when they’re dope sick.” This hook is “10 Crack Commandments” levels of instructional, but please don’t try this at home. 38 Spesh is jogging over this beat. HA-HAAAAA! Jadakiss' voice sounds like sewer water. Benny out-rapped two legends. This is not a controversial take.
4. "Dirty Harry" ft. RJ Payne & Conway The Machine
I love the production so far, but it’s also one-note. If you've heard one dirty drum loop, you’ve heard ‘em all. RJ Payne’s verse is solid, but that line about something hitting hard as “finding out your daughter’s a lesbian” is whack. Benny’s back to put us on track. “I wash the blood off the money that my daughters inherit.” He turned a family affair into a melancholy turn of phrase. And here comes The Machine. Conway’s rhyme schemes are top tier; he's riding harder than a candy-colored Camaro into the sunset. A short but potent verse. This beat is just weird enough to coax me back.
5. "Took the Money to the Plug’s House"
Benny and Uncle Al are at it again! There's no more beating around the bush, let’s get to the meat. “Lower numbers than an Ochoa brother.” That’s a wild specific reference. This song could have used more of that same color. Benny isn't saying anything that I haven’t heard across the opening four tracks. I'm glad to hear Benny is putting on for his people, but "Took the Money to the Plug's House" isn’t hitting like the others. Probably won’t be back.
6. "18 Wheeler" ft. Pusha-T
This is the record I’ve been waiting for. Two brick titans on the same track. The sample is falling off like the beads in a rainstick. Benny knows how to ride a beat. “Pulled up to the jakes pushing the whip like I’m Jigga.” That’s an image that needs to be screen-printed on a shirt yesterday. KING PUSH! His apathy is aspirational. “They say a hero ain’t nothin’ but a sandwich” is ruthless. Push’s opulence and Benny’s muck complement each other well. A newscast as a bumper, a Griselda staple. I like this.
7. "5 to 50" ft. India
The bounce is forcing Benny to switch up his flow. Hahahahaha, Benny almost snitched on himself. You gotta check yourself. Benny’s got money, but he’s ready to run back to the plugs the second this light goes out. Gotta respect the hustle. India's voice is adding a level of gravity to the record. From burners stashed at mom’s house to a Bentley on the front lawn of his own, this is Benny’s origin story—consolidated into three minutes and fifty-two seconds. A solid close.
Final (first listen) thoughts on Benny The Butcher’s The Plugs I Met:
The Plugs I Met is a reflective and low-stakes project from a rapper still riding high off a critically acclaimed album. Benny raps with the confidence of a Mega Millions winner about to claim their prize, but while most of the bars here are sharp, there’s a lack of freshness to the material and the soundscape. The Plugs I Met isn’t a project with a lofty goal to meet; it’s an endurance test.
Benny comes close to losing his footing when side-by-side with Black Thought and Pusha-T but manages to more than hold his own, while the experimental flow he uses on “5 to 50” helps end the project on a high note—a welcome change of pace that would have benefitted the middle of the track listing.
Benny The Butcher’s consistency has earned him a victory lap before his next big obstacle, which is precisely the goal The Plugs I Met fulfills. The project will satisfy older fans, while those who came to hear a Pusha-T verse will leave the listening with a new plug.