Courtesy of Black Soprano Family Label

Buffalo native and co-founder of Griselda Records Benny the Butcher has returned with his new extended play, “The Plugs I Met 2.” This is a follow-up to his 2019 EP “The Plugs I Met,” where listeners heard him go toe to toe with some of hip-hop’s best: Pusha T, Black Thought and Jadakiss. It was essentially a short and sweet package of tracks with a lot of plug talk, a lot of drug talk and intriguing guests who can also toe those lines with Benny. It imposed itself as a starter plug project that had folks waiting to see what he would come out with next.

Previously, his album “Burden Of Proof” showed us how Benny could talk grimy coke bars on wax yet still make it sound appealing to the masses; looking back to older projects like “Tana Talk 3” in comparison to his newer tracks, there is no doubt he is getting closer and closer to nailing it. In his new EP produced by New York stalwart Harry Fraud, Benny is more so the star of the show — his EP isn’t so souped up with features. He lets vivid imagery in his lyrics illustrate his transition from the drug game to the rap game. While that may be a tale as old as time, Benny manages to tell it in a way where he peppers in a few “Scarface” references here and there, but even then, it’s still a very tried and true rap trope. 

Thankfully, “The Plugs I Met 2” proves these formulas work for a reason, especially when you have a solid production, good song writing and the gift of gab. In the opening cut, “When Tony Met Sosa,” Benny spits a nostalgic montage of hustlers, block boys and crisp $100 bills set to clean bling era beats, cinematic saxophones and strings. Benny sounds so established yet still hungry: impressive, but exactly what we know he’s capable of. The production of the next track “Overall” steals the show with head-smacking bass, hefty beats and vintage synth leads that are just divine; not to mention, the feature from the late Chinx and his husky voice on the hook was a great contrast to Benny’s. 

The following track with 2 Chainz, “Plug Talk,” is sweet to the ear with an elegant production, featuring pitched vocals that caress the ear canal nicely. Unfortunately I felt Benny didn’t come as hard as he did in others, not to mention that 2 Chainz’s verse was more underwhelming than usual. “Live by It” is a lot more urgent in comparison and true to its title in the way that it’s about the risk and dangers of living the street hustler lifestyle that Benny often raps about: innocent bystanders killed in drive-by shootings and rappers getting caught up with guns on tour buses.

The EP takes a small dip on “Talkin’ Back,” which is the biggest misstep on the project. The production is off kilter and weak, with very peculiar hi-hat patterns along with the drums sounding faint. Fat Joe’s feature leaves a lot to be desired with the “Wuhan Virus” line feeling strange . It’s honestly just a shouty, poorly written and overcompensating verse. Things do improve on the track “No Instructions,” where Benny takes a more introspective monologue type of approach while tackling the shortcomings of his past.. 

Accurately titled, the longest track, “Longevity,” ties off at four minutes, padded out with features from New York heavy weights French Montana and one-third of the diplomats, Jim Jones. Jim Jones’ verse is enjoyable since he does a great job at matching Benny’s energy lyrically. They rap about the risk of getting yourself into this lifestyle for some fast cash and possibly losing your freedom along the way. French’s feature was fine, but it just wasn’t as focused as Benny’s or Jim’s.

The chilling cut, “Survivor’s Remorse,” is the true highlight of the EP, with cold-blooded autobiographical bars set to this dreamy bassy cloud rap instrumental. The song allows Benny to essentially dive deep into his psyche and dog himself for succeeding or “surviving” his situations, wondering “Why him?” when all of the people around him didn’t. The closing track “Thanksgiving” is a righteous finisher that finalizes Benny’s full transition from then to now, delivering bars that range from tragic to triumphant.

Verdict: Overall this EP is of great quality; it has impressive solo songs by Benny the Butcher in addition to some good features here and there. It may not be as impressive on the feature front as “The Plugs I Met,” but at least we get to hear Benny from a more personal and thorough angle on this new project.