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Benny The Butcher-Tana Talk 3 & 4 ALBUM REVIEWS


Written Before Review


With Benny The Butcher releasing Tana Talk 4 not too long ago, I decided I should also review the album that put Benny on the map, Tana Talk 3. I’ve only listened to this once but I still come back to songs like “Broken Bottles” and “97 Hov” an appropriate amount. With that being said, I’m surely excited to revisit it, and without further ado, let’s get into it.



Production


The difference between this album and other albums is that…there are only two producers featured on this album, Daringer, and The Alchemist. Most of the time it’s Daringer, but Alchemist gets 4 credits on here and they are amazing credits. The first Alchemist appearance is on “Rubber Bands & Weight” where the descending guitar loop and subtle drum break are pure Griselda. There is also the song “Fifty One” which has a droning organ, fat drums, and psychedelic guitar that is also pure Alchemist. My favorite Alchemist beat on this is easily “Broken Bottles” as the percussion, heavy bass, eerie chords and FX are just something that you have to adore. Daringer also brings some amazing beats himself. The beats for “Goodnight”, “Fast Eddie” and “Rick” are fast-paced, atmospheric, and gritty. The beat for “97 Hov” is classic hip hop back and forth with the jazzy piano, Boom Bap drum rhythm, and vinyl crackle. I also love the beat for “All 70” as it’s a super nice flip on what seems to be a vintage psych-rock song and you know I’m a sucker for those beats. It comes to say that when it comes to the production on this album, there’s not a bad beat on her whatsoever.

Lyrics

I don’t think there is a track that doesn’t have an insane line or two. “I touch base, it go quickly, but I ain’t no Griffey” from the intro just shows it. I should also mention the opening line for “Goodnight” is one of the coldest opening lines in hip hop history. In the song “Fast Eddie” alone is Benny going off 5 minutes straight with only one break. Right after, we have “Broken Bottles” and he mentions how he was going to write an album about the plugs I met (as he did exactly that a year later in EP form.) He also gets introspective on songs like “Joe Pesci 38” where he warns people in the street on how to be smart out there and stay alive. On “All 70” he talks about how he raps about what he lives and that stuff includes seeing his brother die, witnessing the process of his cousin getting shot in the face, and surviving. It comes to show that Benny is one of the purest MCs of the current generation, and I think this album is the purest example of that.


Features


There aren’t that many features on this album but the ones that are here do their job, but what makes this album impressive is that Benny outraps everyone. First off, the first 6 tracks have no features and that has some of the strongest tracks on the album. We have Mayhem Lauren on the song “Echo Long” and he does his job but he is overshadowed by Westside Gunn’s catchy hook and Benny’s ferocious rapping. Royce Da 5’9 ends up on the track “Who Are You” and that tracks alright and all but once again…Benny is on a whole other level. Westside Gunn appears on “Fifty One” and this might be the lone track where the feature stands its ground with Benny but that might be because the beat fits Westside equally. Conway appears on “All 70” and Conway does an amazing job but at this point, the song is just a triumphant victory lap. With that being said, the features do their job and they fit, but Benny is like Matt from Wii Sports, he just can’t be beaten on this album.


Influences


I mentioned this on The Plugs I Met, but Benny is heavily rooted in the 90s New York hip hop scene. Not like the Jazz Rap scene, but artists like Biggie, Mobb Deep, and Kool G Rap. The dark sinister production is a lot like the production from The Infamous. The retro feel and aggressive flow feel like the Kool G Rap records from the early 90s and the mafioso aesthetic kind of goes with artists like Biggie, Nas, and JAY Z. For a person who has loved that scene for the longest time, It’s cool to see someone taking that style to a modern, twisted and darker approach.


Cons


The main gripes I have is that the tracks are kind of one-tricked, but the only thing that I have with this record is that Benny is just wayyyy too powerful. Bars and one-liners with amazing production get you far but it’s hard to compare that to the TPAB’s and Aquemini’s. On the other hand, this is the album that represents Griselda as the strongest.


Verdict


This has to be one of the hardest east coast hip-hop records when it comes to lyrics, production, and overall pen game. Benny is not a force to be reckoned with and so are the other 2 of Griselda. I can understand if their style is repetitive but the style they run with is working to their advantage, and this album is full proof.


8/10

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Written Before Listen


We now have the long-awaited Tana Talk 4 and I’m so happy about it. The best thing about Tana Talk 3 is that the entire album was produced by rather The Alchemist or Daringer. We have that once again on this album and Benny is back at it with a new album. It hasn’t been that long but We’ve had a strong release from Conway The Machine, and a really strong release from Westside Gunn last year, so with that being said, we have a new cycle for Griselda as each Griselda member has dropped what I consider their strongest project each, so let’s see if Benny does the same. Without further ado, let’s get into it.


Production


Just like Tana Talk 3, the production is handled by The Alchemist and Daringer, but this time around there are more Alchemist beats. The beat for “Johnny P’s Caddy” is super infectious and pretty unique for an Alchemist beat. After that, we have “Back 2x” which is a pretty half-efforted Daringer beat, and “Super Plug” is an Alchemist beat that isn’t up there with the beats he made for Tana Talk 3. Luckily, the beat for “10 More Commandments” is really strong and is a good backdrop for Benny to go off on. The beat for “Theory’s Revenge” is also a major highlight as it’s one of those Alchemist beats that are mid-tempoed and Benny rides on it like a Cadillac. Then we have the beat for Guerrero which sounds like I’m about to play a first-person coke dealing game but then right after, we have “Bust a Brick Nick” which has an ethereal and psychedelic beat that is perfect for Benny to just go off on. Overall, I think some beats miss a little more than they should but luckily, the production is carried by two amazing producers so it’s not as common as you would think.


Lyrics


Just like any other Benny project, the lyrics are the top focus. Right from the opening track, Benny knows not to play around. The line about not his story being rags to riches and more about mastering physics is just the perfect way to open the album up. There’s also that line on “Thowy’s Revenge” where he mentions that he used to drive cabs but now he only drives imports which is cold as hell. That Martha Stewart line on the same song is also extremely cold. On “Guerrero” he mentioned every song on Tana Talk 3 using clever lines. For example, how “Rubber Bands & Weight” made him “97 Hov” is cold, “Word to Babs I was Fast Eddie as soon as the cops close” is cold, and staring at his reflection with “Broken Bottles” is cold. He also trades off on “Uncle Bun” and redoes Biggie’s classic “10 Crack Commandments” and does it with justice. What I’m trying to say here is that not only Benny has stayed with the same weight lyrically, he’s expanded it in ways we didn’t expect.


Features


On Tana Talk 4, we have more features than we did on the 3rd one. We even start with a feature track with J Cole and let me say that J Cole delivers one of my favorite features he’s done. We get a hook from Stove God Cooks on the following track and all due respect to Stove God Cooks, but I feel like all of his hooks have the same purpose. On “Weekends In The Perrys” Boldy James comes in and I think the combo of Boldy and Benny is an underappreciated one. C’mon, “Scrape The Bowl”, “Brickmile To Montana” and now this? They haven’t missed yet. On “Tyson Vs Ali” we have the combination of Benny and Conway that rarely disappoints, we have a nice tradeoff on “Uncle Bun” with 38 Spesh and we have “Guererro” with Westside Gunn that just ends up sounding like a stereotypical Griselda track. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Benny does a good job, the features do a good job but the magic from the previous Tana Talk just isn’t there and I don’t know why.


Comparison To Tana Talk 3

Tana Talk 3 was just an album that was so good that it would be hard to beat, especially if it’s by the same artist, in that case, Benny is nowhere as near as he was on that project. There is no song maybe except for “Johnny P’s Caddy” that is up to par with “Broken Bottles” or “97 Hov”. Benny just sounded more aggressive on Tana Talk 3 and chose better production on Tana Talk 3. That’s all there is to it.


Cons


As long as not being as strong as the previous Tana Talk and some of the beats aren’t the strongest Benny chose, it suffers from the same cons that the 3rd Tana Talk did. I think Benny did a little more on the attribute side of the lyricism scale, but it’s not like it’s as strong, but that’s like following an MVP season, you just can’t win them all. On the other hand, Even though it’s not as good as Tana Talk 3, it’s still another strong release from The Butcher.


Verdict


So far, it’s been a really good year for Griselda, Conway released his strongest project, Benny is back in his usual form and Westside Gunn’s album in 2021 shows that he’s also in strong form. Griselda Is here to stay and I’m glad to say that this album solidified it.


7/10



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