Benny the Butcher is back with his highly anticipated follow-up to his 2019 gangsta-rap masterpiece The Plugs I Met. Being accompanied by Harry Fraud behind the boards, Griselda’s coldest spitter seems to be taking the project in a more focused direction than usual. Featuring industry titans like 2 Chainz, Fat Joe, Jim Jones, and more, can Benny keep his hot streak going with The Plugs I Met 2?
Opposed to elegance and glamor preached through his victorious sophomore LP Burden Of Proof, the Butcher’s gone back to the grimy side of the spectrum for this one. The intro “When Tony Met Sosa” echoes this as the 36-year-old immediately puts last year’s success to the side and reminisces on his street life and both the gift and a curse that being in “the game” has been. Through hearing some of his most traumatizing and triumphant thoughts towards this manor, the gangster persona we all know and love Benny for starts to shine brighter than ever, and the symbolism of the track name and cover art comes full circle. Seeing this, the opener’s true beauty is apparent as the Black Soprano Family leader now feels how Tony Montana felt when he met Aljenadro Sosa in the classic 1983 film Scarface. Following this, Benny goes on a tangent that only strengthens his case for being the game’s best lyricist. Whether it the storybook-like “Live by It” or the pain-ridden “No Instructions,” nearly every song uses Benny’s experience on the streets to teach a valuable lesson that can be applied to an array of situations one will face in life. On the contrary of this, there’s one dull moment within the tracklist in “Overall,” which was super disappointing due to Benny’s bars and messaging being plain average, and the feature from deceased Coke Boy’s member Chinx hardly contributing anything of significance. As the rest of the guest appearances go, this was definitely the biggest concern for most listeners going in, but in typical Griselda fashion, the collective’s special aura is able to get the best out of any artist. One of the best showings of this is the hard-hitting “Plug Talk,” which showcases the Butcher and 2 Chainz trading tales from their similar backgrounds in order to strengthen the core ideas the surrounding moments have already set up. To everyone’s delight, this is just the tip of the iceberg in this department as “Talkin’ Back” manages to top this due to the immense presence that Bronx legend Fat Joe brings. Out of all these collaborations, the surefire standout was hands-down “Longevity”. While Diplomat’s legend Jim Jones and Benny’s passionate poems about surviving in the rap game were exceptional, the most rewarding part of this entire moment was that French Montana was able to keep up with them in every regard by delivering possibly his best verse ever. On the closing leg of this action-packed experience, frequent collaborator and fellow BSF member Rick Hyde joins the Butcher in the climatic “Survivor’s Remorse,” which furthers the themes of its preceding song “Longevity”. Wrapping up this second installment, “Thanksgiving” serves as the last of Benny’s masterful lyrical showings, and what makes it so special is the way its lyrics about hatred and torment are flipped around into a thanks towards the ones praying on Benny’s downfall. While the Griselda MC doesn’t really do anything too out of the ordinary here, he yet again captures the pinnacle of lyricism and collaborating, all while bringing back the gangsta rap flare many missed from him last year.
Behind the boards, Harry Fraud creates a soundscape that’s more mainstream-friendly than most Griselda records but still manages to keep the energy high for Benny and crew throughout. From the jazzy climactic opener “When Tony Met Sosa” to the prideful piano-based” “Thanksgiving,” each instrumental comes with a unique quality that almost perfectly matches Benny’s vibe. The sped-up soul sample on “Plug Talk” is one of the most memorable uses of this skill as the sped-up angelic vocals create the perfect contrast against Benny the Butcher and 2 Chainz’s dark songwriting. Moving away from vocal samples, we see the 38-year-old utilize instruments like the Flute to create the perfect atmosphere on cuts like “Talkin’ Back”. Out of all the songs, the sonic standout was definitely “Longevity,” which fuses together creped vocal samples and chilling chords to heighten the stakes for Benny, Jim, and French’s morbidly painful anthem. As a whole, Harry Fraud’s soundscape has gracefully managed to embody the more commercially accessible side of Benny’s last album, Burden Of Proof, while keeping the gritty feel that the first installment of the Plugs series thrived with.
While The Plugs I Met 2 isn’t on the level of Benny the Butcher’s past three major releases, it’s still an above-average record, and it’s by far the most entertaining this uneventful year has had to offer so far. Benny isn’t really breaking the mold here, but just seeing him go back to the more brutal “Scarface” like side of his persona was enough to keep his hot streak going. As the sonic portion of the LP goes, Harry Fraud seems to be shaping up for a big year as with now this and Jim Jones’ The Fraud Department under his belt, he’s testing his limits as a beatmaker and curator. Going forward, I’m sure we will see more from Benny as the year goes on, but even with his weakest effort in years, The Plugs I Met 2 is still better than most rappers entire annual output.
- Benny’s lyricism is top tier and entertaining
- Almost all the Features show up
- Harry Fraud does a good job behind the boards
- Feels like a rightful sequel
- Benny fails to really do anything out of the ordinary
- Definitely a step down from Plugs 1 and Benny’s other recent efforts
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop