Black Soprano Family Records – “Long Live DJ Shay” review

This is the 2nd showcase compilation from Buffalo independent hip hop label Black Soprano Family Records. Founded in 2016 by Benny the Butcher of Griselda fame, the roster has significantly grown throughout the years with the likes of Duffel Bag Hottie to Rick Hyde & even battle rap icon RJ Payne. The label has maintained a distribution deal with MNRK Music Group since everything was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic a couple summers back & put out an eponymous debut EP hosted by DJ Drama not too long after, but is following it up in the form of Long Live DJ Shay.

The intro kicks it all off with a sinister boom bap instrumental from the late DJ Shay himself & Fuego Base popping in during the last minute or so after a spoken word piece from Westside Gunn going at B$F’s opposition whereas “Shay Face” by Benny & Rick Hyde works in some piano chords to remind everyone of their authenticity. “297 Parkside” by Elcamino, Rick & Stove God Cook$ brings a high-pitched sample to the fold thanks to Camoflauge Monk paying homage to the titular street in NY prior to “Danger Zone” by Heem, O.T. the Real & Ricky grimly talking about spending many nights in the titular space.

Meanwhile on “Pandemic Flow”, we have Conway the Machine & Cory Gunz accompanying Rick Hyde over some spooky Uncle Al production to brag how crazy they go leading into the Heem solo cut “Bastard Child” declaring himself as such over a flute-tinged boom bap beat. After the “Sit Down with Preemo” skit, Benny returns alongside Heem & Ricky for the dusty “Times is Rough” laced by none other than DJ Premier confessing they’re running out of reasons to sympathize just before “Mustachios” by Boldy James, Chase Fetti & Heem brings a guitar & hi-hats into the fold talking about the mafia lifestyles they live.

“Li-Lo” by Elcamino, Krayzie Bone & Loveboat Luciano comes through with a summery love anthem & the song “Bigger B$F” by Armani Caesar, Benny, Heem & Rick following the “Respect to Shay” interlude sees the quartet ruggedly bragging about their increasing profile. The penultimate track “Brody” by Elcamino & Heem has a more soulful tone to it confessing that the streets made them who they are today with “Mr. Pyrex Man” by Benny ending the album with a glistening trap instrumental spitting that hustler shit.

If you enjoyed the self-titled EP that B$F put out a couple years ago, then you’re probably gonna like Long Live DJ Shay even more. The production has improved, everyone on the label roster sounds even hungrier than last time, the features are all well-picked out for a good majority of the album & I think it would all make Shay more than proud.

Score: 3.5/5

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Heem – “High Art” review

This is the debut EP from Buffalo emcee Heem. Catching my attention earlier this year after becoming of a protege of Benny the Butcher & signing to his MNRK Music Group imprint Black Soprano Family Records, he also made a few appearances on the label’s showcase EP that dropped a couple summers back before following it up with the impressive debut mixtape Long Story Short a day after my birthday that same year. A year & a half later, he’s now returning with some High Art.

“Don Mega” is a boom bap opener with a crooning vocal loop declaring himself as such whereas “Soul Food” works is some organs talking about smoking weed. The song “Cheech & Chong” keeps the stoner vibes coming down to the psychedelic instrumental while the penultimate track “Hydro Plane” mixes chipmunk soul with pianos talking about weed of course. “Buddah Love, North Fire” ends the EP on a jazzier note asking for an ounce.

Yeah it’s been a little over a week since 4/20 but as a pro-weed advocate himself, I still think High Art is still an awesome offering to all the smokers out there. Marc Spano’s production is some of the best of his career & Heem comes through with some clever raps about his love for that good kush.

Score: 3.5/5

Black Soprano Family Records & TCF Music Group – “Trust the Sopranos” review

This is a brand new collaborative compilation between New York independent hip hop labels Black Soprano Family Records & T.C.F. Music Group. One operates as an E1 Music imprint owned by Benny the Butcher & the latter being founded by 38 Spesh. The pair have been working together for a long time now (case in point: Stabbed & Shot), so it only makes sense for them to bring their crews together for Trust the Sopranos.

The opener “Immunity” by Benny & Elcamino kicks off with a succulent instrumental from Rick Hyde as the 2 go on about having their block under control, but then the Camino solo cut “Corner” is a horrendously sung R&B ballad despite the luscious 38 Spesh production. We later have Che Noir, Klass Murda & Ransom detailing their lifestyles on the angelic “Price of Fame” before the latter teams up with Benny to talk about fake people on the piano-laced “Spineless”. Ampichino & Spesh come together to talk about their lives being like a movie for the victorious “Tokyo Drift” whereas the Heem solo cut “Long Story Short” is him jumping on alluring boom bap beat saying that he’s about to take shit over.

Ricky accompanies Heem on the cinematic “Load Up” to talk about their homies mobbin’ while the song “Love Left” by Benny, Che Noir & Klass Murda is a smooth heartbreak anthem. The penultimate track “Blue Money” by Benny, Elcamino & 38 Spesh finds the trio talking about getting it out the mud over an organ-laced instrumental from the late DJ Shay whereas the closer “Silent Death” by Chase Fetti & Rick Hyde is an airy ode to murder.

It was only a matter of time both labels would come together given their intertwining history & the end result is pretty decent. Benny & Spesh always bounced off each other well on projects like Stabbed & Shot and the Cocaine Cowboys duology, but the TCF artists (i.e. Ransom & Che Noir) outperform the BSF signees throughout the half-hour.

Score: 3/5

Heem – “Long Story Short” review

Heem is a 27 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who caught my attention earlier this year after becoming of a protege of Benny the Butcher & signing to his E1 Music imprint Black Soprano Family Records. He also made a few appearances on the label’s showcase EP that dropped over the summer but just a few more weeks until 2021, here we are with his debut mixtape.

The intro talks about how no one living like him over a dreary instrumental from Ice Rocks whereas the next song “All Eyes on Me” talks about wanting his roses before he’s gone over a symphonic boom bap beat from the late DJ Shay. “The Realest” with Benny sees the 2 talking about keeping it 100 over a hypnotic vocal sample while the track “Mayhem” with Boldy James finds the 2 talking about how they don’t play over a lush beat.

The song “More Money More Problems” talks about risking his life for this over a comatose instrumental while the track “Menace to Society” talks about going through Hell & back over a grimy beat from TrickyTrippz. The song “Sacred Nights” gets murderous over a cinematic instrumental while the track “It Could Happen” with Benny & Rick Hyde sees the trio pondering a number of things over a boom bap beat with a piano loop.

The song “My Diary” gives the listeners a piece of him over a exuberant instrumental from DJ Green Lantern while the penultimate track “Warring Ave” talks about what it was like on his street over a deranged beat. The tape ends with “Letter to Shay”, where Heem pays tribute to DJ Shay over a churchy boom bap instrumental.

Coming away from this tape, I’m pretty impressed with it. The production leans towards that signature Griselda sound, but you get a good look at who Heem is & where he’s at now. This is only the beginning for him if you ask me.

Score: 3.5/5

Black Soprano Family – Self-Titled review

Black Soprano Family Records is a Buffalo, New York-based independent record label founded in 2016 by Benny the Butcher of Griselda fame. Their roster has significantly grown throughout the years with the likes of Duffel Bag Hottie, Rick Hyde, Loveboat Luciano, Joneszy & even battle rap icon RJ Payne. The label just inked a distribution deal with E1 Music a couple months back & are releasing a DJ Drama-hosted collective effort to celebrate.

The EP kicks off with “Quarantine”, where Benny the Butcher promises his homies currently locked up that he’ll be rich when they come home over a violin-inflicted boom bap beat from Chup. The next song “Grams in the Water” by Benny, Loveboat Luciano & Rick Hyde of course talks about pushing coke over a dreary instrumental while “Da Mob” finds Benny, Heem & Rick talking about the crew being impeccable over a grimy beat from DJ Shay.

The track “In Love with the Streets” by Heem & Jonesy talks about what makes the hood so special over a boom bap beat with an alluring vocal sample while the song “Rick & Fonz” is a Rick Hyde solo cut about how he can’t go broke again over some synthesizers & some twinkling keyboards. The track “Paulie & Vito” by Heem & Rick goes at those who disrespect their names while the song “Valarie” is a Heem solo joint about what it was like growing up in Buffalo over a dark beat. The closer “It’s Over” by Heem, Rick & Benny then talks about wealth over a soulful Don Cannon instrumental.

Not a bad showcase effort from the Black Soprano Family. I was expecting it to be a little bit longer than just 8 tracks & 27 minutes, but everyone on the label stands out in their own way & does a fine job of giving the listeners what they’re capable of doing.

Score: 3.5/5