THE BUTCHER CAME AND HE DELIVERED
For a while now, Westside Gunn’s Pray for Prais was my favorite Griselda project, however, I think Benny the Butcher just surpassed that project with Burden of Proof. Before you listen to this lemme just say: If you’re going into this expecting Griselda’s typical grimy street and coke raps shit, you’re gonna be disappointed. There are still plenty of coke bars and a track like Sly Green shows that there are still a lot of grimy elements, but no track feels like something off of an album like WWCD for example. Instead, Benny brings forth a much more soulful sound with these instrumentals, which isn’t something super foreign to Griselda, however, I still can’t say that I wasn’t surprised by this seeing Benny’s track record of mostly making those typical Griselda grimy bangers.
Benny, once again, proves himself to be the most versatile and the best rapper in Griselda. As usual, his bars are hard, his flexing is unyielding, he is as convincing with his raps as ever, however, Benny is more introspective than usual across this record. He has songs dedicated to his mother and ones talking about how fame changed him, among a bunch of other much more personal and introspective song topics than on previous LPs. These aren't foreign topics for Benny to explore, but the way Benny does it is more in-depth and more nuanced than he has ever before. Hit-Boy does the production here and he once again proves that he is one of the best producers of the year. Really competing with Alchemist for the title of the best. To complement the soulful and beautiful instrumentals that are much more toned down than the usual Benny the Butcher instrumental, Benny himself tones down the aggression. He doesn’t directly seem as hungry as he usually does, but when looking past his tone of voice and flow and into his bars, you’ll realize that the Benny we’re accustomed to is still here, he’s just shifted his delivery and has matured a bit.
The features here are much higher in notability than they usually are on Griselda records. While Griselda has been able to snatch features from the likes of Joey Bada$$, Tyler, Busta Rhymes, Eminem, alongside a bunch of other high-level names, this record has the most amount of high notoriety features. People like Rick Ross, Freddie Gibbs, Lil Wayne, and Big Sean end up here. And, to be honest, most of them are great. Freddie Gibbs does his usual thing as good as he usually does it, Wayne drops what is easily his best post-Carter V feature yet, Sean continues to show that this is his best year in terms of rapping, and the Conway and Westside Gunn track here is much more introspective and laidback than any other track they’ve all done together. On here, Conway drops what is probably my favorite verse across the entire album where he gets real personal by reflects on his past prior to rapping and talks about the moment he realized he was paralyzed. The hooks and song structures here are also generally stronger than most Griselda project as I’ve always seen them as being an Achilles Heel for Griselda members.
However, I can’t act like this album doesn’t have its fair share of problems. The hooks, while better than your typical Griselda album, aren’t perfect. Take for example the no effort Dom Kennedy hook on Over the Limit which just rings to me as incredibly boring with little to no effort put into crafting it and ends up being the only one that I straight-up dislike. There are still some I’m not too crazy about, though. Then there’s the Rick Ross feature which just ends sounding like a pretty standard and stale Rick Ross feature. The track New Streets features some pretty average Benny verses, a decent beat but not nearly one of the best on the record, and almost half the track is dedicated to an outro of Benny just talking which gets super stale super fast. It feels super inconsequential in the overall tracklist. Still, even with all my gripes, I feel like Burden of Proof is the most consistent crop of Griselda tracks yet and further proves why Griselda isn’t a force to take lightly.
FAV TRACKS: Sly Green, One Way Flight, Famous, Timeless, Trade it All, Thank God I Made It, War Paint, Legend
LEAST FAV TRACK: New Streets