When I heard the opening line of this project, I knew I was in for something special.
Rap and hip-hop are not usually genres of music I seek out. Maybe it’s because so much of today’s radio waves are polluted with this nouveau-trap production that can be found in just about every big name artist — ranging from stars like Ariana Grande to “stars” like Justin Bieber.
I can confidently say that Griselda Records star Benny the Butcher's new project "Burden Of Proof" is the first purely rap album I’ve listened to (excluding "IGOR" by Tyler, The Creator because that is a genre-bending masterpiece).
Going in, I didn’t know what to expect. And then Benny The Butcher blew me away.
What makes this project stand out is that it doesn’t shy away from honesty. Benny's verses are liquid poetry — raw and real. He doesn’t shy away from chronicling the darker sides of his experience both as a person of color and someone who lived in underfunded communities. He transports listeners to the streets of Buffalo, New York with his vivid lyricism.
It’s not just the words he speaks. It’s the emotion that goes into every single verse. Benny makes you feel everything you’re supposed to feel with each song. When The Butcher is enraged, you feel rage too. When The Butcher mourns, you feel mournful too. When he celebrates, you clap along.
Something "Burden of Proof" also masters is production. Steering clear of the current trap trend, this project's production leans towards the organic sound of ‘90s rap icons like Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. — drums, strings and a piano. Additionally, there are a few verbal interludes scattered throughout the album. These bits of dialogue add splashes of gold onto Benny's portrait of Buffalo, New York.
It’s refreshing, it’s enticing, it’s cohesive.
Three outstanding tracks off of the album are Famous, New Streets and Over The Limit.
“Famous” chronicles his feelings of imposter syndrome and the disingenuous nature of fame.
“New Streets” calls into question the current trend in rap to shy away from the harsher realities of the lives of rappers.
In a Genius annotation Benny explains, “These rappers get on these songs and they talk about a thousand kilos and they don’t got no prison stories. That’s not realistic. In the real world, prison is on the other side.”
“Over The Line” is the best track. Collaborating with Lil Wayne and Big Sean, each rapper offers their reasons why they rap on their respective verses. Highlighted by an anxious, adrenaline pumping instrumental, this track sums up the album’s soaring message of resilience.
The only hindrance of this album is that there is a lack of stripped back, slow tempoed songs. If Benny had taken a song to rap over a lone piano, this album would be near-perfect.
"Burden of Proof" is hands down one of the best projects to be released in 2020. Among the modern deluge of trap flops, Benny The Butcher’s new album is a breath of fresh air, grounding it’s listeners in harsh realities and undeniable truths. A masterclass in rap.
Over the Limit (feat. Lil Wayne & Big Sean)