Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Benny the Butcher – Burden of Proof

The Buffalo-bred MC teams up with super producer Hit-Boy for his biggest album to date.

Griselda Records has been having a banner year. With several projects from both Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine being released, as well as debuts from new signees Boldy James and Armani Caesar, the Buffalo-based label has been on an extremely hot streak. With his latest solo effort, Benny the Butcher is looking to continue that streak.

This project serves as both a celebration of Benny’s newfound success and a reflection on the struggles that he endured getting to where he’s at now. His raps show an understanding that his present status and wealth wouldn’t exist if not for the troubled waters he swam through in his past. The perils and pressures of drug dealing helped get him to where he is, and he hasn’t let his luxurious new lifestyle cause him to forget that.

Still, Benny’s change in lifestyle is apparent through the sonic shift of the instrumentals in comparison to his past work, his lyrical content, and the star-studded guest list that this album boasts. Throughout its tracklist, we see appearances from Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Big Sean and Freddie Gibbs, among others, all of which are a perfect fit for their respective tracks and deliver fantastic verses.

This was a pretty risky move, as the Griselda crew has historically kept things mostly in-house and have built a fanbase on their dark, throwback sound. Going with more commercial artists and lavish production could’ve been a huge detriment, but they pay off in a major way, thanks to Benny himself.

Benny is at the height of his powers throughout this LP, delivering sharp bars, cautionary tales and words of wisdom from a man who’s seen it all. He never feels the need to water down his lyrics or change how he raps, he just makes his style fit every track from the project’s bombastic intro to its impeccable closer, “Legend.”

This is an album that is rife with highs. From the Freddie Gibbs-assisted “One Way Flight” to the soulful and reflective “Thank God I Made It,” none of the songs stick out as bad. The only real negative here is the skits, and while they are absolutely horrible, they still don’t take much away from the quality of the music. This is an extremely solid outing from front to back and cements Benny as a force in the modern hip hop landscape, and he has a discography to back that status.

Throughout his catalogue, Benny has routinely started verses by delivering his now-famous ad lib, “The Butcher’s coming.” While those same words are the first uttered on Burden of Proof, it’s clear by the outro that things have changed – the Butcher isn’t coming, he’s here.

Rating: 8.5/10

Trial Track: One Way Flight (feat. Freddie Gibbs)


QUICKSPINS: Benny the Butcher & Smoke DZA – Statute of Limitations

The two New York MCs join forces on gritty Pete Rock-produced EP

Benny the Butcher has spent the last few years turning heads alongside his Griselda Records labelmates. Smoke DZA has spent the better part of this decade being one of Harlem’s premier lyricists. This EP sees the pair exchanging verses over a handful of fantastic instrumentals produced by none other than the legendary Pete Rock, giving this project a classic feel.

Statute of Limitations embodies the signature boom-bap sound of 90s east coast hip hop, without sounding dated or relying on nostalgia as a crutch. Benny and DZA feel at home over these masterfully-produced instrumentals, going back and forth and bringing the best out of each other on every track.

The barrage of bars kicks off almost immediately on the album’s opener “By Any Means.”  The track features the pair weaving in and out of each other’s verses with ease, taking turns every few lines. The duo displays great synergy throughout, both together and with guest features, including Conway the Machine who delivers a show-stealing verse on “Bullets.”

Overall, this EP delivers great bars and fantastic beats, and its short runtime makes it prime for repeat listens. Benny and DZA are at the height of their abilities, and Pete Rock showcases the skill set that proves why he is considered an all-time great in the genre.


Trial Track: “Drug Rap”

Star Bar: 

“Me and Smoke like weed and Coke

Hundred keys of dope hit the port of Miami, via boat

If it’s ’bout paper, we approach

I’m stretchin’, John Legend, pressin’ keys and seein’ notes” (Benny the Butcher on “By Any Means”)

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