We’d like to begin this series of insights talking about the US Hip-Hop music scene, taking you to Buffalo, state of New York. Forget about Manhattan and other famous districts of the Big Apple, usually considered the birthplaces of the Hip-Hop culture. Buffalo is a cold and poor small-medium sized town, located about 373 miles northwest of N.Y. (This is the region of the “Great Lakes” close to Canada).
We are in the zone called Rust Belt, a wide area from Detroit to Cleveland, where, after the de-industrialization and the American car industry crisis of the 90’s, factories and residential districts left over unemployment, degradation and crime. It was in this area, to be more precise from the Eastside of Buffalo, that the protagonist of our first insight born and lives: Benny the Butcher, rapper, class ’84.
Benny is the cousin of the histrionic and visionary Westside Gunn (rapper and founder of the Griselda Records; one of our future insight) . Thanks to his incredible talent evoking raw rhymes and realistic portraits of the street life (and thanks to the musical and entrepreneurial genius of W.S.G, Benny gained popularity and co-signed with many legendary MCs and a well-known artists.
However, don’t be fooled by Benny the Butcher’s career, as it was not a sudden exploit but an ascent started in the first half of the 2000’s, counting dozens of mixtapes (we are, in fact, in full “mixtape era”) under different pseudonyms such as 2Chains Benny (even before the famous trapper of Georgia 2 Chainz, former Titi Boy), Benny Montana and B.E.N.N.Y (acronym for Best. Ever. iN. New York). Thanks also to them, he became one of the most respected and appreciated rappers of the neighborhood of Montana Ave and his city.
Therefore, until 2016, his career was relegated to the Hip-Hop scene of the city, struggling to take over the scene due to the small opportunities offered by Buffalo’s music industry. On top of that, he had to sort legal events of his youth related to the street life. After a difficult childhood due to the extreme poverty of his family, the absence of his father, the drug problems of his mother, the shooting of Machine Gun Black (the oldest of his eight brothers); Benny, also, served different years in federal prisons between 18 to 28 years old for three different sentences related to drugs and probation violation.
Beetween 2016-2017, Benny’s career took a decisive turn; after Westside Gunn carved out a large success in the underground New York Hip-hop scene with the first chapters of the series “Hitler Wear Hermes“. In fact, the founder of Griselda Records, “pulls the sprint” to Benny hosting his verse on “FLYGOD” record; already considered a cult in “Shower Shoes Lord” track (title referring to the shoes worn in the shower by US Prisoners ).
Uh, could’ve told my story on Oprah, 60 Minutes
How I earned plenty digits from risky business
What you know about a stint? Gotta sit for Christmas
Wifey on shit, that bitch missing visits…
from “Shower Shoes Lord”, Fly God Lp, 2016
This verse allows Benny The Butcher to show without hesitation his narrative and MC talent to a wider audience, finding his balance on “classic” beats with samples and loop that Westside Gunn, Roc Marciano and a few others had the courage of revamp at that time.
From now on, the “butcher” of Buffalo found the formula that enhances the most his skills, producing in a short time a lot of solo, freestyle and collaborations full of bars and strong images, increasing his popularity. He founded the crew with his homies launching his independent “brand” named Black Soprano Family (B$F).
Final consecration arrived at the end of 2018 with his first Lp, Tana Talk 3 (conceived and recorded the previous year), and the last Ep “The Plugs I Met“ with the collaboration of some heavyweights of the scene as Pusha T and Black Thought of “The Roots“.
Few months ago he revealed that he had a confidential conversation with the patron of Roc Nation and Tidal, Jay-Z in person, who advised him to decline the Freshmen cover of the famous American music Magazine XXL, where were shown the most promising young rappers of the last year. To be honest, he doesn’t belong to this category either for age, charisma and depth and also ‘cause his experience can’t be compared to other young talents. (Few days after writing this article, Benny signed a management deal with Roc Nation , under the eyes of Jigga aka Jay Z in person).
In fact, the raw images of Benny The Butcher paints are composed by vivid and authentic rhymes that never expire in a banal celebration of street life and its stereotypes. They pass down the awareness of those who “did what they did” ‘cause of necessity and their native context but despite this, they managed to get “the best from the worst“.
Buffalo’s rapper has the ability to realistically describe a world where, if you want to earn easy money, power and respect on the streets, you’ll pay this ambition dearly. The two partners of Griselda Records and himself are with no doubts one of the most interesting revelations and stories of revenge that the Hip-Hop landscape has offered in recent years. He is one of the Artists you should follow as you’ll definitely hear about, in the next future!