Benny the Butcher’s 2018 album Tana Talk 3 is on track to go down as an underground classic; It marked a new level for him, introduced many new fans to Griselda, and was unrivaled in grimy, revivalist production and mean bars straight from the kitchen. After a couple years of experimentation and growth in popularity (big name features and projects with Hit-Boy, Harry Fraud), many fans were ready for Benny to get back to that hardcore boombap again. Well Tana Talk 4 is worthy of its namesake; Fully produced by Darigner and the legendary Alchemist, Benny is back at it with more polish and a mature approach to the game.
And I don’t trust a fiend unless his fingertips burnt
And I don’t want no credit for careers that I co-created
The deals I negotiated, drug dealers I associate with
Nah, cause seven figures what I had to be
Rapper turned down a contract from me?
Now what he make a year is what I stack a week
The album opens with “Johnny P’s Caddy”, an homage to both Benny’s father and the iconic Chicago MC. Over an almost chipmunk pitched soul sample and immaculate Alchemist drums, Benny flows hungrier than ever alongside J Cole who obviously delivers. This isn’t exactly the brick talk you’d expect from Benny, as he’s so grown now and is dropping wisdom on here instead. That’s a big pattern with this album; He made it in both the streets and the industry, so we’re hearing all sides of the game with the raw delivery and production Benny is loved for. “Back x2” and “Super Plug” are closer to that Tana Talk 3 mafioso vibe, with drug bars and beats so menacing you can feel yourself being stalked on a cold Buffalo night. This strong opening run continues with “Weekend in the Perry’s”, yet another amazing link between Benny, Boldy, and Uncle Al. This one is much lusher and lighter, seeing them take an almost nostalgic look at their time in the streets.
Benny The Butcher – 10 More Commandments (feat. Diddy)
Tana Talk 4‘s obvious highlight is “10 More Commandments”. 25 years after the death of Biggie Smalls, Benny makes a bold, worthy claim to the throne by adapting one of hiphop’s greatest classics (Vado recently took his own shot at it). Over a hectic piano chop courtesy of Daringer, he drops a fresh set of rules to live by in the drug game and actually does justice to an untouchable peak in the genre. The way Benny flows on here is messy, but in such a fitting way; He fits more syllables than you’d expect in each bar and adds to the songs energy so well. Of all the street wisdom he drops on Tana Talk 4, it’s commandment 11 which hits hardest as Benny warns everyone to get out while they still can, despite the institutionalization and apparent glamor.
Next is the highly anticipated “Tyson vs. Ali” with Conway. Over another lighter beat, the two discuss rumors of beef in the group and reflect on coming up together. “Uncle Bun” is one of 38 Spesh’s best links with Benny and leaves even greater hope for a Stabbed & Shot sequel. Trading bars on another exceedingly dark beat, both absolutely spaz (“Pray this brick turn to a family of white bitches!”) and deliver exactly what fans of old Griselda wanted most. Other highlights from the second half include “Thowy’s Revenge”, a 2000’s style Alchemist banger with Spanish horns, and “Guerrero”, which has Benny cleverly namedropping many of his past songs in a surprisingly coherent, tough verse. It all wraps up with “Mr. Chow Hall”; Matching the gangster rage of “5 to 50”, Benny goes off on the industry and anyone still sleeping, going so far as to censor some names and add effect. Its an epic closer which leaves his voice ringing in your mind and reminding us who runs this shit.
Tana Talk 4 is undoubtedly some of Benny’s best work and a welcome return to his old style. To expect a flat out better album than 3 is unreasonable given how iconic and fresh it was, but this sequel is more than a worthy successor. Benny has proven himself as an OG at all levels and is back to kill the game.