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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Rick Hyde – “Stima” review

This is the 9th EP from Buffalo emcee/producer Rick Hyde. One of the flagship artists on Benny the Butcher’s very own MNRK Music Group imprint Black Soprano Family Records, he would go on to drop the impressive full-length debut Plates at the beginning of 2019 after warming everyone up with his first 7 EPs a feature-studded sequel last summer that was preluded by an EP of it’s own. But coming fresh off that, Ricky’s still applying pressure by releasing Stima.

“Who Am I?!” opens up the EP with a chipmunk soul banger properly reintroducing himself to the world whereas “Y Bother Talkin’?” works in some operatic vocal loops to declare no mercy on the weak minded. “Arrivederci” takes a more sinister approach in terms of sound dissing the wankstas leading into the braggadocious “La Spina”, which goes into somewhat of a more futuristic direction with the instrumental.

Meanwhile on “Like This”, we’re treated to a dusty yet raw B$F posse cut describing what real d-boys look like while the song “Ms. Young” gets on his hustler shit & the beat here is kinda similar to that of “Lemon” off Conway the Machine’s classic debut From King to a God. The penultimate track “Poza” with Rome Streetz finds the 2 over a brassy Alchemist instrumental belittling their competition & “Perspective” finishes it off on a glossier note talking about where he’s at now.

For an EP, I’d say Ricky delivered some of the best work of his career with Stima. In comparison to his last album, I really admire how he decided to step it up in the production department & tone it down on the features so he remind everyone that he can undoubtedly hold it down on his own because some of his best pen-work pops up here.

Score: 4/5

Rick Hyde – “Plates 2” review

Rick Hyde is a 31 year old emcee/producer from Buffalo, New York notable for being a flagship artist on Benny the Butcher’s very own E1 Music imprint Black Soprano Family Records. His debut album Plates that came out at the very beginning of 2019 was pretty solid & after a couple years of teasing a sequel, we’re finally getting it in the form of Ricky’s sophomore album & he’s pulling out all the big guns for it.

The intro with Tearz finds the 2 jumping on top of some keys & faint strings talking about being another product of the 80s whereas the Westside Gunn-assisted “Nova” speaks on their youngest shooters ‘til it’s all said & done backed by a smooth Daringer instrumental. Benny the Butcher & G Herbo tag along to tell motherfuckers to show their actions on the soulful trap banger “Alone” but after the “Booney on the Phone” interlude, the song “Hustler’s Prayer” enlists Heem to say they’re thankful for the paper & the holy vibe of the beat fits well.

Meanwhile on “Glorious Mourning”, we have Ricky jumping on top of a high-pitched vocal loop preparing for a mental funeral just before “Sarah” serves as an alluring 2-minute freestyle. Killa Kyleon comes in for the R&B-tinged “When I Go” produced by Sha Money XL talking about how people are still gonna love them when they’re both gone leading into “Momma Luv”, which is a crooning tribute to his Ma Dukes if you couldn’t tell by the title.

After the “Come Up” interlude, the Jay Worthy/Chase Fetti-assisted “Red Moon Rising” has a dope vocal loop throughout despite having some of the weaker performances on the album but then he & Meyhem Lauren make up for it by talking about making their homies bosses on the Harry Fraud-produced “Enrique” that comes up following the “Blasphemy” interlude.

The song “Skid Row” with Elcamino & T.F. finds the trio dramatically details their lives in the hood while the penultimate track “Slow Eddie” with Grafh & Skyzoo come together for some drug shit accompanied by a somber beat from the late DJ Shay. Then there’s “Black Sinatra”, where Benny & Heem join Rick to operatically compare themselves as such.

The first Plates is a bit better, but that’s not to say this isn’t a worthy follow-up. I think he overdid it on the features however, the production has improved & Ricky delivers a respectable thank you to Shay for help getting him where he is now.

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

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