In 2019, Buffalo emcee Benny the Butcher released an EP titled “The Plugs I Met.” Though it went hand-in-hand with Griselda’s customary raps of gritty street talk and crime narratives, the EP was touted as having a certain unique concept to it: Benny rapping about plugs, or upscale drug dealers, and the experiences he’s had with them. In a similar manner to how Raekwon laid out the groundwork in popularizing mafioso rap, Benny the Butcher provided something of an autobiographic lyrical instruction manual in street-level trapping. Which brings us to 2021 and its sequel EP, “The Plugs I Met 2.” Through imagery from the film “Scarface” (1983) on both editions, it’s as though Benny is conveying the message that this lifestyle doesn’t end up too well, as it was in the case of Tony Montana and Alejandro Sosa whose names and images are frequently invoked here. As far as the raps go, Benny the Butcher continues to sharpen his pen game and, in doing so, proving why he’s the star player of Griselda’s starting line-up.
The sequel is two tracks longer than its predecessor and lacks any Griselda guests (with the limited exception of Rick Hyde as he belongs the Benny’s Black Soprano Family). Much like his 2020 LP “Burden of Proof”, this EP also follows the one-producer format. Only this time, instead of Hit-Boy, Benny has enlisted “la musica de Harry Fraud.” The New York City beatsmith proved to be up to the task. While Fraud doesn’t have the usual of what we’re used to hearing from frequent Griselda producers (Daringer, Beat Butcha, and even the Alchemist), he provides an amalgam of urban sample-based productions with 808 sounds of trap music.
Both producer and emcee drop the heavy load from the start with “When Tony Met Sosa” which, from a titular standpoint, is a something of a prequel to Benny’s “Scarface vs. Sosa” songs. Over jazz horns and strings, Benny spits a verse with no hook, shows humility (“Niggas be like, ‘Yo, ayo, you saved this rap shit’ / I be like, “Nah, this rap shit saved me though”), and cleverly rhymes his goals as a young trapper: “Close my eyes and the voice in my eardrums tell me ‘fore the Feds come / To turn these bread crumbs to a hedge fund.” On “Overall”, Benny creates a song about the spoils of hustling and gets crooner/rapper Chinx on the hook and to rap a verse. The production takes an atmospheric turn on the single “Plug Talk” with airy vocal samples, airy piano samples, and 808 snares. While Benny has some impressive delivery in the last 8-10 bars of his verse, it’s 2 Chainz’s verse which holds more weight (so to speak):
“Live By It” has a dark, head-nodding groove about it in which Benny raps about the laws of the streets. Fraud laces together some vintage, sped-up soul for “Talkin’ Back”, featuring Fat Joe. I’ve seen both men speak in videos on social media, but this is the first time I’ve heard members of Griselda and the Terror Squad working together for collaborative purposes. With frantic drums and a looped woodwind instrument, both emcees make devastating lyrical boasts (Benny: “Ah, I really had to clean this dough / You ain’t a boss, everybody on your team just broke” and Fat Joe: “‘Cause I’ll turn a negative nigga into a memory (Brrah) / Y’all been takin’ +Big Ls+ since ‘The Enemy’”). The EP’s lead single, “Thanksgiving”, was not included on the physical releases of this album. Though the album itself is about his connects, this single is about giving thanks to the hustlers themselves over some appropriately trap production:
As for the remainder of the EP, “No Instructions” has the most straight-up boom-bap production. Benny talks about how he treats plugs like healthy investments and how the drug game is a series of unwritten rules which its players must learn and internalize to survive. “Longevity” has a creepy atmosphere about it that’s more customary of Griselda’s sound despite Harry Fraud’s versatility. In it, Benny gets an assist from French Montana and Jim Jones to air out all the fake hustlers they see. Lastly, there’s the Rick Hyde-assisted, piano-driven “Survivor’s Remorse”. In comparison, “The Plugs I Met 2” is different than the original. The latter felt more like Benny did it just to do it, and it worked. The sequel has a target, a plan which makes its outcome less subject to the whims of fate. The raps are solid and the production under Fraud is not polished, but more refined this time around. All in all, “The Plugs I Met 2” is another feather in Benny’s cap.