Griselda Records signee and one-third of the Griselda collective, Benny the Butcher, is back and better than ever in his long awaited project “Burden of Proof.” The album is executively produced by legendary producer, Hit-Boy, who’s been dominating 2020 by producing Big Sean as well as Nas’s latest album. This record is one of Benny’s crowning achievements, with tales of streetlife along with the big risks and high rewards that come with it.
There are a lot of moments where it felt as if Hit-Boy and Benny were really connected sonically when creating these tracks, which is shown in songs such as “Thank God I Made It” where Benny told Genius that he cried in the studio with Hit-Boy when making the record. The fluidity of the beat accompanied with Benny’s bars make for a beautiful pairing. The beats Hit-Boy crafted appeared to be tailored for Benny, as if it was created on the spot and wasn’t something that he had already in his stash. Benny’s album is a gritty yet authentic description of his street endeavors, as well as his success in the music industry. I like how he is able to give advice about the streets without sounding preachy, but also having his lyrics be accompanied by some luxurious beats. Cuts like “Famous,’” where he speaks on the ghosts of his past, lamenting his current status because once everyone knows an artist’s music they feel as if they know the artist personally in addition; which can be tough for an artist who wants to remain out of the public eye. Many lines reflect on his fame, such as “And I never think I’d make it out the hood/ And it don’t feel how I thought it would,” revealing that all that glitters may not be gold and that there are problems that come with notoriety. It’s refreshing to hear someone who’s music may glorify streetlife, but at the same time, isn’t simply eulogizing the glamorous sides such as the money, jewelry and eventually getting out of the drug business.
I also enjoyed guest appearances from revered MC’s like Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Big Sean, as well as indie favorites, Freddie Gibbs and Dom Kennedy. The track “Where Would I Go” with a guest appearance from MMG’s very own Rick Ross is a definite high point with luxurious raps accompanied by expensive beats. It’s nice to hear an artist that’s relatable in some capacity. Honesty and vulnerability is something The Butcher is not unfamiliar with; songs like “Thank God I Made It” as well as “Trade It All” depict his past so elegantly while also giving his listeners a bit of advice with every bar. As a fellow asthmatic, I enjoyed the bar where Benny mentions being in the hospital recently due to his asthma.
For a 12-track project, Benny wasted no time fitting as many dope one liners or impressive wordplays. He does not hold his tongue when he raps poetically about hustling in the streets and his distaste for today’s rappers rapping about the luxuries of living the street life, which I find to be refreshing. He doesn’t only praise the wins, but he also acknowledges the losses, and that’s what separates Benny (as well as the entire Griselda group) from the rest of today’s musicians. Tracks such as “Thank God I Made It” where Benny speaks on the loss of his brother, Machine Gun Black, along with dropping a few jewels for his street savvy listeners makes for a triumphant highlight. I, for one, really appreciate the honesty throughout this project; Benny has always had a knack for putting authenticity at the forefront of his albums.
It’s clear that Benny is concerned with making music that can stand the test of time, which he expresses in his lead single “Timeless” featuring rap veteran, Lil Wayne, and Detroit’s own Big Sean where they all speak on living on through their music. This track was the first of the two singles he put out before releasing the record, the second being the outro cut “Legend”, which I found to be very strategic on his part, but nonetheless, I was still hyped to hear the album in its entirety after hearing the singles.
There is a lot to love on this album. After all that Benny has gone through in the industry to get to this point, it really is a full-circle moment when looking at Benny’s career entirely. As aforementioned, this record was a match made in heaven being executively produced by Hit-Boy. With Benny’s gritty yet cogent poetics mixed with Hit’s hand-crafted soulful beats, creating something as beautiful as “Burden of Proof” was inevitable.
Verdict: This album is a crowning achievement for Benny. I can’t say this is an instant classic, but I will say it has high chances of standing against the test of time. Its replay value is extremely high, and I suggest this record to anyone who enjoys honesty, good wordplay and introspection, not to mention amazing instrumentals.