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Benny the Butcher - Tana Talk 4 Music Album Reviews

Benny the Butcher - Tana Talk 4 Music Album Reviews
The Buffalo rapper digs deeper into his established lore, savoring his victories while further stewing in past regrets.

Benny the Butcher is at the point in his career where he knows exactly what his fans want from him. His 2020 album Burden of Proof, with its distractingly polished Hit-Boy production and victory-lap energy, expanded the Buffalo rapper’s sound from the grainy film stock of his earlier work to IMAX clarity. Burden was warmly received and pushed Benny to another echelon of rap stardom, but the three followups he released shortly after found him back in the mud-stained trenches that made him. Unlike Anderson .Paak—whose attempt to recontextualize his sound on his major label debut Oxnard resulted in fans bullying him back to his vintage microphone stand—Benny’s shift to the familiar wasn’t a defensive play. Griselda’s foundation of traditionalist drug rap has proven to be sturdy, and he’s in no hurry to fix what isn’t broken.

Tana Talk 4 is a sequel to Benny’s 2018 breakout Tana Talk 3, and it plays out like a blockbuster expansion of the original. The guests are bigger—J. Cole and Diddy make show-stopping appearances. The beats crunch with an amplified sense of gravel and warmth, and the raps are equal parts hungry and self-mythologizing. It’s not as reinvigorating as 2021’s The Plugs I Met 2, opting instead to be a greatest hits entry with a few tweaks to the formula. But here, Benny digs deeper into his established lore, savoring his victories while further stewing in past regrets.

For Benny, moving weight has always been a means to an end, a necessary evil that ensured he would survive long enough to see his rap dreams come true. But his thoughts and guilt linger a little longer over every boast and successful drug run across Tana Talk 4. Tinges of sadness shoot through his verses more often, like the image of him hiding drugs in his father’s couch on “Super Plug” or his attempt to pick shooters out of a lineup from his hospital bed on closer “Mr. Chow Hall.” By the time he’s describing the hollowness of celebrating his 36th birthday in a wheelchair after surviving an attempted robbery in Houston on “Bust a Brick Nick,” you can feel the scratch marks on the edge of his soul: “Being honest, this could be karma I probably deserve in the first place,” he says with a sigh. These moments infuse the record with a sense of melancholy that’s rare in a world that runs on the ethos of a rap robber-baron.

But the atmosphere is never grim for too long. Benny’s self-awareness cuts the other way, too, breaking the fourth wall often to address fan expectations and build out his legacy as one of rap’s fiercest stylists. “Guerrero” uses song titles from Tana Talk 3 and Burden to create a Spark Notes retelling of Benny’s origin story. On “10 More Commandments,” he flips the Notorious B.I.G.’s classic “10 Crack Commandments” on its head by pleading with hustlers to get out of the drug game (“Them old stories how you was getting dough won’t amount to shit/Can’t feed your child with it when they come wearing jackets with alphabets.”) “Tyson vs. Ali” recruits cousin Conway the Machine so the duo can set the record straight on any sort of competition between them, bigging each other up in the face of instigation. No Griselda rapper has allowed themselves to get quite this meta before, deconstructing and reaffirming their mythology with a wink and a smirk.

Unfortunately, these relative experiments only make up a portion of the album. Once they fade into the background, Benny’s raps begin to blur. There’s nothing wrong with being a specialist, but Benny’s flows and stories aren’t as fluid as more established artists like Freddie Gibbs or Pusha-T. Multiple guests get the best of the Butcher, whether it’s frequent collaborator 38 Spesh gnashing his way through their back-and-forth on “Uncle Bun” or J. Cole bestowing opener “Johnny P.’s Caddy” with the kind of barn-burning verse he should really be saving for his own albums. The beats throughout are also a mixed bag, with the texture and dimension of Alchemist’s work often outclassing Daringer’s. Alchemist simply brings more variety to the table, the muted prance of “Thowy’s Revenge” and the chandelier luster of “Bust a Brick Nick” being particular standouts. Comparatively, Daringer’s work is serviceable but often lacking in flavor, saved by Beat Butcha’s twangy instrumental flourishes on tracks like “Back 2x” and “Guerrero.”

At this point, there aren’t many people who don’t know that Benny the Butcher can rap. He’s proof that it’s never too late to see the success you deserve, and he’s earned every one of the lofty cosigns legends have tossed his way. While it’s nice to see Benny have a bit of fun deconstructing the Griselda aesthetic, and his skills are as sharp as ever, there isn’t enough excitement or edge to separate this from anything he’s released since 2018. Tana Talk 4 never feels languid or dull, but it lacks the freshness of Tana Talk 3 and the sense of forward motion that propelled The Plugs I Met 2. The Buffalo collective built their empire on this sort of release model, but most kingpins know the cost of being too complacent.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Benny the Butcher - Tana Talk 4 Music Album Reviews Benny the Butcher - Tana Talk 4 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, March 24, 2022 Rating: 5

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