Benny the Butcher – “Tana Talk 4” review

Benny the Butcher is a 37 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who’s been making music since 2004. However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 where he alongside his cousins Westside Gunn & Conway the Machine would take the culture by storm off projects like Tana Talk 3 & The Plugs I Met. Last year alone, he teamed up with Harry Fraud for The Plugs I Met II in the spring & then Pyrex Picasso in the summer. However, he’s finally linking back up with Daringer & The Alchemist for his 3rd full-length album as well as the 4th installment of the Tana Talk series.

“Johnny P’s Caddy” kicks off the album with a soulful Alchemist beat & J. Cole joining Benny in talking about deserving to be where they are now whereas the Stove God Cook$-assisted “Back 2x” follows it up by bringing the coke raps back & Daringer taking the instrumental back to the basement. “Super Plug” works in a dejecting beat talking about how his only wish was to get his close ones rich just before Boldy James tags along for “Weekends in the Perry’s”, where he & Benny jump on top of a chipmunk soul sample addressing how it’s always been.

Meanwhile on “10 More Crack Commandments”, we have The Butcher delivering a stellar sequel to “10 Crack Commandments” that would make Biggie proud down to Puff Daddy’s spoken word outro leading into Conway coming into the picture for “Tyson vs. Ali” talking about how everyone compares the greatest to the greatest nowadays on top of some dusty drums & pianos. “Uncle Bun” goes into a more suspenseful direction as a Benny & 38 Spesh toss the mic back & forth with one another, but then “Thowy’s Revenge” incorporates a horn sample talking about how he went & got it.

“Billy Joe” brings an organ into the picture to describe the shit he be doing within the first 3 days of every month while the song “Guerrero” with Westside Gunn finds the 2 on top of a futuristic boom bap instrumental with some amazing wordplay. The penultimate track “Bust a Brick Nick” viciously attacks those who haven’t been the places he’s been to even though the beat is opulent as Hell & lastly, “Mr. Chow Hall” ends the album by confessing what’s been on his mind lately & the instrumental here is just spine-tingling.

Much like Conway did with God Don’t Make Mistakes a couple weeks back, I think Benny gave us some of the best work of his career with this album. From the vivid street imagery to Daringer & The Alchemist’s production, every one involved kills it at picking up where the previous installment of the series left off while recapturing that sound.

Score: 4.5/5

Conway the Machine – “God Don’t Make Mistakes” review

This is the long-awaited Shady Records album from Buffalo emcee/entrepreneur Conway the Machine. Blowing up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher, the trio have had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & last year, we were treated to his 8th EP If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed produced entirely by Big Ghost Ltd. & his 11th mixtape La Maquina. But in light of Conway announcing earlier this week that he’ll be amicably departing Shady & Griselda to focus on his very own label Drumwork Music Group, what better way to fulfill his contracts than to drop God Don’t Make Mistakes?

“Lock Load” starts off the album with Beanie Sigel & Conway talking about always carrying a strap on them on top of a spooky Daringer instrumental whereas “Tear Gas” with Lil Wayne & Rick Ross works in a high-pitched vocal sample calling out those who weren’t there for them when they needed them most. “Piano Love” of course brings in a dreary piano instrumental from The Alchemist talking about being the richest in Buffalo, but then “Drumwork” is pretty much “Crack in the 90s” & “Sister Abigail” on steroids.

Meanwhile on “Wild Chapters”, we have T.I. joining Conway on top of a dispirited boom bap beat from Hit-Boy talking about the story of their lives just before the Bink!-produced “Guilty” goes into soulful turf encouraging to focus on his lyricism than his appearance. “John Woo Flick” follows it up with a disgusting Griselda posse cut in the same vein as “Spurs 3” leading into the spacious boom bap banger “Stressed” pondering if anyone cares about his mental well being.

“So Much More” encourages listeners not to “let ’em tell you 1 side of the story” on top of angelic vocal loop provided by the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League while the Jill Scott-duet “Chanel Pearls” gets on some smooth Bonnie & Clyde shit. The penultimate song “Babas” incorporates some organs talking about going from king to a god (no pun intended) & the title track finishes the album off by airing out all these questions he has with The Alchemist providing a lush musical backdrop.

Conway’s been hyping this up for a good minute now & for it to be his final Griselda project as well as the only one on Shady, we got ourselves an early album of the year contender & some of the best work of his career. The production is superb, the features are all well picked out & it’s amazing how personal he’s getting on here. I wish him all the best on his own.

Score: 4.5/5

Westside Gunn – “Hitler Wears Hermes VIII: Sincerely, Adolf (Side B)“ review

This is the highly anticipated 2nd disc of the 8th mixtape from Buffalo emcee, songwriter & entrepreneur Westside Gunn. At this point, what can be said about the guy now that hasn’t been said already? From running one of the hottest hip hop labels in recent memory to his first 2 full-lengths FLYGOD & Supreme Blientele, you’d be lying to yourself if you said he & the rest of the Griselda crew haven’t had the culture on lock for the last 5-6 years. Dude’s been laying low throughout a good portion of 2021 so far, but is deciding to finish the Hitler Wears Hermes mixtape series in the form of the 2-disc Sincerely, Adolf. The first disc came out last month & it was only a matter of time that Side B came out.

It technically starts off with the “Brodie Lee” intro & the “End How You Start” intro, but things really don’t get rolling until Conway the Machine & Benny the Butcher tag along for “Hell on Earth, Pt. 2” for some eerie boom bap coke slanger shit. Jay Electronica assists West for the jazzy “Free Kutter” calling for his homie to be released from the pen, but then “Richies” is a Gunnlib reunion reusing same sample as “Ontheway!” by Earl Sweatshirt asking if you’ve ever seen a corpse.

“Julia Lang” despite it’s brevity gets back on that yay shit with a grimy Camoflauge Monk instrumental leading into Chase Fetti, Flee Lord & Heem aligning for the disgusting 2-parter “Celine Dion”. Following this, Mach-Hommy pops up on “Best Dressed Demons” with a dusty Daringer beat declaring themselves as rolling stones just before Armani Caesar & 2 Chainz help morbidly declare that they’ll take their words to their graves for “Forest Lawn”.

Meanwhile on “Why I Do ‘Em Like That?”, we have Westside Gunn & Billie Essco jumping on top of a luxurious boom bap instrumental getting criminal minded whereas “RIP Bergdorf” finds him & Mach going back & forth nonchalantly on top of a mesmerizing vocal loop from Nicholas Craven. He later shouts out his boys Sly & J Batters on the perilous “TV Boy” while the orchestral “Survivor Series ‘95” with Jay Worthy, Larry June & T.F. declares Griselda as the new Roc-A-Fella.

Rome Streetz comes in for the JR Swiftz-produced “Eddie Kingston” saying life’s lavish & they’re beyond greatness & even though I love the classiness of “Ostertag”, it feels more like a Stove God Cook$ joint since West isn’t on it at all. “Munch” with Tiona Deniece has a bit of an R&B flare telling listeners to love how you want, but of course the AZ-assisted “99 Avirex” works in a melodic instrumental getting on their mafioso shit.

“The Fly Who Couldn’t Fly Straight” with Tyler, The Creator takes a soulful route flexing on motherfuckers while the final song “Big Al” with Rome Streetz is a depressing tribute to MF DOOM. However, the actual closer “BYE BYE” starts off with a jazz sample & then a brief spoken word passage from none other than Keisha Plum.

Now that both discs are out, I think Hitler VIII as a whole is a jam-packed finale to the popular mixtape series. There are just as many features that all come correct as the first disc did, West solidifies his icon status & I like how he went with a more varied list of producers rather than sticking with The Heartbreakers again.

Score: 3.5/5

Westside Gunn – “Hitler Wears Hermes VIII: Sincerely, Adolf” review

This is the 8th mixtape from Buffalo emcee, songwriter & entrepreneur Westside Gunn. At this point, what can be said about the guy now that hasn’t been said already? From running one of the hottest hip hop labels in recent memory to his first 2 full-lengths FLYGOD & Supreme Blientele, you’d be lying to yourself if you said he & the rest of the Griselda crew haven’t had the culture on lock for the last 5-6 years. Dude’s been laying low throughout a good portion of 2021 so far, but is deciding to finish the Hitler Wears Hermes mixtape series in the form of the 2-disc Sincerely, Adolf. The first disc given to us now & the other most likely on Halloween

After the “Murders in Marfield” intro & the “Blessed Times” interlude by AA Rashid, the first actual song “Mariota” with Stove God Cook$ kicks things off with a soulful beat & them saying you ain’t gotta worry whereas “Vogue Cover” is somewhat similar instrumentally except the 2 are talking about birds going fast. Mach-Hommy tags along for the jazzy “Margiela Split Toes” to spit that fly shit just before the dusty boom bap cut “Draymond” with Rome Streetz & Stove God saying they had to pray over the bricks.

Meanwhile on “Peri Peri”, we have West & Rome sticking around to jump on top of some keys & dusty drums to talk their shit leading into the Jadakiss-assisted “Right Now” working in another jazzy beat to get on their pyrex shit. “Westheimer” by Boldy James alongside Sauce Walka & Stove God Cook$ find the trio hopping on top of an old time loop saying they had no choice but to commit murder, but then West & Lil Wayne come together for the grimy “Bash Money” to brag about their riches.

The song “Claire’s Back” starts off with a boom bap joint & the FLYGOD telling a bitch to not touch him since he got so much money, but then goes into rock territory for Conway the Machine & Benny the Butcher to spit that mafioso shit. The penultimate track “Spoonz” finds Hall ‘N Nash going back & forth with a meditative Conductor Williams instrumental, but then “716 Mile” reenlists Boldy for a wavy closer getting in their gangsta rap bag.

Although I like what I’m hearing from Hitler 8 so far, I think I’m gonna enjoy it more in context with Disc 2 when it drops a couple months from now. He didn’t have to put a feature on every single cut on here even though they all killed it, but I can definitely commend West for coming correct as much as the guests do & not rushing it like he did FLYGOD is an Awesome God II.

Score: 3.5/5

Mach-Hommy – “Pray for Haiti” review

Mach-Hommy is a 38 year old MC from Newark, New Jersey breaking out in 2017 when he dropped his sophomore album H.B.O. (Haitian Body Odor) under Griselda Records. However, he & Tha God Fahim fell out with the label shortly after only for both of them to reconcile this past Christmas. But since May is Haitian Heritage Month, we have Mach marking his return to the Buffalo powerhouse by dropping his 5th full-length album to celebrate.

“The 26th Letter” is a trumpet-laced opener where Mach goes on about rearranging the whole game whereas the next song “No Blood Sweat” jumps on a pillowy Camoflauge Monk instrumental to say he taking food out cats’ mouths. Westside Gunn hops on “Folie á Deux” as he & Mach tell all the fuckboys that they’re finished over a psychedelic boom bap beat from Conductor Williams before declaring every day as Easter Gunnday on the soulful “Maxron Jaxon”.

“The Stellar Ray Theory” was a great choice for a lead single with its sax-heavy production & the lyrics about cats “blaming clouds on the rain & the sky” while he gets in his storytelling bag on “Marie” & I love the “Hail Mary” tribute in the hook. After the “Leta Yo” skit, Mach vents that he keeps seeing Deedee & Stevie in his naps with Nicholas Craven providing him with a bass guitar & a vocal loop for “Kriminel” just before declaring that he’s in his bag on the Sadhugold-produced “Pen Rale”.

“Murder Czn” with Westside Gunn of course a melancholic cut using for blood while Tha God Fahim tags along for the rich “Magnum Band” to help talk about having 357 on deck. The back & forth chemistry between Mach & Westside on the piano-tinged “Rami” is fantastic & after the “Kreyol” skit, the song “Au Revoir” goes into a more rock direction with the help of DJ Green Lantern as well as lyrics going at “pussy n****s”. The penultimate track “Blockchain” has a slowed down jazz sample throughout as Mach explains that there’s too many information highway cats riding the wave & then “10 Boxes: Sin Eater” is a dusty finisher saying he’s been wavy.

As much as I really enjoyed Pray for Paris, I can argue that Pray for Haiti is one of those immensely rare instances where the sequel album is better than the predecessor. We get a good look into Mach-Hommy’s Haitian roots whilst sticking to the raw lo-fi aesthetics we’ve all come to know & love from him.

Score: 4.5/5

Conway the Machine – “La Maquina” review

Conway the Machine is a 39 year old MC & entrepreneur from Buffalo, New York who blew up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher. Ever since the trio have rose to prominence, they’ve had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & his sophomore effort with Big Ghost Ltd. that just came out a couple months ago If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed is a worthy sequel to No One Mourns the Wicked. But just when even thought we were getting the Shady Records-backed God Don’t Make Mistakes next, we’re getting another prelude album out of the woodwork.

“Bruiser Brody” is a a grimy opener from the boom bap production from JR Swiftz to the lyrics calling out those who pray on his downfall whereas the Bangladesh-produced “6:30 Tip Off” is a jazz-trap fusion speaking on his profit. The song “Blood Roses” is about how “I came to prove I came improved” with a spiritual beat from Cardiak, but then “Clarity” opens up on how he spares “no feelings when my pen is movin’” on top of a soulful trap instrumental from Don Cannon.

The track “KD” has a weepy trap instrumental from Murda Beatz with lyrics talks about those speaking on Conway’s legacy while “200 Pies” with 2 Chainz of course gets on that pusher shit & the bare loop that The Alchemist comes through with is hypnotic as fuck. “Sister Abigail” is a dusty boom bap tune where The Machine recruits his new protégés Jae Skeese & 7xvethegenius for a homage to The Fiend’s signature move of the same name, but then Jae returns on the peppily-produced “Grace” to talk about how they don’t live in disguise to get their blessings.

The song “Scatterbrain” brings in J.I.D & Ludacris to get murderous on top of a frigid instrumental, but then Elcamino & Shots hop on Had to Hustle” to speak on what they had to do to get where they are now. The closer “S.E. Gang” serves as a response to those who said Conway was leaving Griselda earlier this year as he, Westside Gunn & Benny the Butcher spit that mafioso shit over a flute sample from Daringer.

Not what I was expecting from Conway, but still a dope album regardless. In comparison to him returning to a more grimier sound on If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed, I like how he continues to build off the the versatility that From King to a God brought. Whenever the time for God Don’t Make Mistakes comes, I’ll be more than ready to hear where he takes it.

Score: 4/5

Benny the Butcher – “The Plugs I Met II” review

Benny the Butcher is a 36 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who’s been making music since 2004. However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 where he alongside his cousins Westside Gunn & Conway the Machine would take the culture by storm off projects like Tana Talk 3 & The Plugs I Met. He just dropped his Hit-Boy produced sophomore album Burden of Proof this past fall & as the 2 year anniversary of The Plugs I Met approaches this summer, Benny is enlisting Harry Fraud for the sequel EP.

The EP kicks off with “When Tony Met Sosa”, where Benny talks about how the rap game saved him over a jazzy beat. The next song “Overall” with the late Chinx sees the 2 talking about winning over a grimy instrumental while the track “Plug Talk“ with 2 Chainz finds the pair talking about how they address drug shit in interviews over some harmonious background vocals hanging behind their verses. The song “Live by It” talks about living & dying by the gun over an uncanny instrumental while the track “Talkin’ Back” with Fat Joe sees the 2 responding to everything from dope money to the streets over a flute-tinged beat.

The song “No Instructions” talks about how there’s no rules to the drug game over a poignant boom bap instrumental while the track “Longevity” with French Montana & Jim Jones finds the trio talking about making sure their cash is the strongest over an alluring beat. The song “Survivor’s Remorse” with Rick Hyde sees the 2 talking about how they could’ve died or wound up in jail over a dirgelike instrumental & then the closer “Thanksgiving” tells the rap game to be grateful for him over a soul sample & an organ.

The Plugs I Met is a crown achievement in Benny’s catalog & this sequel is almost as enjoyable as the predecessor. In comparison to the mature & polished vibes that Burden of Proof gave off, he & Harry Fraud take things into much more darker territory as the dark production & the harsh realities The Butcher paints mesh well with one another.

Score: 4/5

Various Artists – “Conflicted: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” review

This is a brand new soundtrack album brought to you in part by Buffalo hip hop labels Griselda Records & Black Soprano Family Records. Both of whom have been taking over hip hop with a plethora of high quality albums, EPs & mixtapes since late 2015. They just released their first feature-length film Conflicted this weekend & of course the movie had to be accompanied by songs from or inspired by it.

After the intro, the first song “Mobbin’” finds Benny the Butcher teaming up with Chase Fetti & Heem to talk about just that over a devilish instrumental while the track “Element of Surprise” by Lloyd Banks talks about being mindful of snitches over a supernatural beat. The song “Ain’t Hit Nobody” by Westside Gunn, Flee Lord & Eto sees the trio coming together for the brick buyers over a grim, drumless instrumental from Daringer while the track “Pride” by Ransom triumphantly talks about his success over a soulful beat from the man himself.

The song “Welcome Home DMX” by Dave East & Jonesy finds the 2 comparing themselves to Sam Giancana & John Gotti over a weepy trap instrumental from the late DJ Shay & the 808 Mafia while the track “Squaaaaad” by Elcamino, Rick Hyde & Smoke DZA sees the 3 talking about being baptized by the streets over a victorious beat. The song “3:30 in Houston” by Benny the Butcher addresses being shot a few months back over a despondent instrumental while the track “Voices” by Boldy James, Chase Fetti & Heem finds the trio telling their opposition to run over a bloodcurdling beat.

The song “Rank” by YN Billy gets braggadocious over a mediocre trap instrumental & after the “I’m Not the Enemy” skit, the track “Nerve of You” by Armani Caesar talks about someone doing her dirty over a Camouflage Monk beat with some plinky keys. The song “Conflicted” by Flee Lord talks about the hustler lifestyle over a dreary instrumental from GhostDave while the penultimate track “Mission Accomplished” by Armani Caesar, Benny the Butcher & Westside Gunn sees the 3 talking about turning to the boss life. “The Hurt Business” by Westside Gunn, Smoke DZA & Wale then talks about being the flyest in the game over a thunderous instrumental.

I was curious to hear how this would turn out given how cheesy a lot of soundtrack albums turn out nowadays, but I’m actually pretty impressed with what we got here & it has me even more curious to watch the movie when it comes out next weekend. Much like Griselda’s collective debut W.W.C.D. (What Would Chinegun Do?) that was released under Shady Records a couple years back, everyone involved manages to stay true to themselves & not whip up a focusgrouped product.

Score: 3.5/5

Benny the Butcher – “Burden of Proof” review

This is the sophomore album from Buffalo emcee Benny the Butcher. Coming up as the leader of the Black Soprano Family collective as well as a signee to Westside Gunn & Conway the Machine’s label Griselda Records, he would make his presence known in the culture with his Butcher on Steroids that dropped on his birthday in 2017 as well as his full-length debut Tana Talk 3 on Black Friday 2018. This was followed up 7 months later by releasing The Plugs I Met but a little over a year later, he’s teaming up with Hit-Boy for Burden of Proof.

The title track that kicks the album off is pretty much Benny talking about expanding himself over a boom bap beat with some horns along with an outro from Pain in da Ass whereas the next song “Where Would I Go?” with Rick Ross sees the 2 talking about being big bosses over a heavenly instrumental. The track “Sly Green” talks about money ain’t changing shit for him over a beat that kinda has a JAY-Z feel to it while the song “1 Way Flight” with Freddie Gibbs finds the 2 talking about bitches over a soulful instrumental. The track “Famous” talks about how he still doesn’t feel like a celebrity over an climatic beat while the song “Timeless” with Big Sean & Lil Wayne sees the 3 talking about their legacies over an energized instrumental.

The track “New Streets” talks about only being concerned of what hustlers think rather than haters over a classy soul sample while the song “Over the Limit” talks about success over a smooth, cavernous instrumental & it’s great to hear The Madd Rapper during the outro. The track “Trade It All” talks about his desire to give up his wealth to see those he’s lost once more over a somber beat while the song “Thank God I Made It” talks about being grateful for where he is today over a lavish instrumental. The penultimate track “War Paint” with Conway the Machine finds the 2 spitting the usual pusher bars over a beat with hypnotic vocal loop hanging in the background & then the album finishes with “Legend”, where Benny proclaims himself as such over a delicate instrumental.

Even though I’d have to go with From King to a God for my Album of the Year pick so far, this is just as great in my personal opinion. The production Hit-Boy brings to the table is somewhat more glamorous & clean in comparison to Tana Talk 3 & The Plugs I Met, but it manages to suit Benny well as we get to hear him at his most mature.

Score: 4.5/5

Westside Gunn – “WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE?” review

Westside Gunn is a 38 year old MC & entrepreneur from Buffalo, New York who broke out in 2016 with his near-perfect debut album FLYGOD. He would go on to take over the culture with his brother Conway the Machine & their cousin Benny the Butcher as all 3 of them have consistently dropped a slew of high quality releases both solo-wise & as a trio over the past 5 years. However, Westside has stated on numerous occasions that he’ll quit making music after 2020 & has released 2 albums since the year started: Pray for Paris & FLYGOD is an Awesome God II. But with Hitler Wears Hermes VIII set to drop at the end of the month, Westside is delivering his highly anticipated Shady Records album.

After the “Sunshine” intro, the first song “The Butcher & the Blade with Benny & Conway finds the trio talking about God having them winning over a boom bap beat from Daringer & Beat Butcha with some rapid keyboard arpeggios whereas the next track “Ishkabibble’s” with Black Thought sees the 2 talking about pushing over an eerie instrumental. The song “All Praises” sounds like a leftover from Boldy James’ The Price of Tea in China down to the Alchemist beat as Westside Gunn only handles the hook while the track “Big Basha’s” talks about there being blood & brains everywhere over a somber boom bap instrumental.

The song “Liz Loves Luger” with Armani Caesar finds the 2 talking about wanting loyalty from their partners over a luscious beat while the track “Ocean Prime” with Busta Rhymes & Slick Rick sees the 3 talking about chopping dudes into pieces over a forlorn instrumental. The song “Lessie” talks about how they’re still getting paid over a wavy beat while the track “Frank Murphy” with Elcamino, Estee Nack, Flee Lord, Smoke DZA & Stove God Cook$ is an epic East Coast posse cut with a wailing instrumental. The penultimate song “Good Night” hooks back up with Slick Rick to get in their storytelling bag over a beat with some ominous keys & then the closer “98 Sabers” is a vicious showcasing of the Griselda roster & the Just Blaze instrumental fits perfectly, but I wonder why Boldy James isn’t on here.

Not a bad album, but it could’ve been better in my personal opinion. It’s pretty much a slightly better version of FLYGOD is an Awesome God II as there are a lot of features & a couple of questionable production choices on here. Here’s to hoping Hitler 8 will be much better.

Score: 3.5/5