The cover and theme of The Plugs I Met 2 highlights the monumental summit between Tony Montana and Alejandro Sosa, characters from the 1983 gangster classic Scarface. Countless rappers have likened themselves to the titular kingpin, but Benny the Butcher’s admiration is dialed in on the epochal ascension from nothing to something. It’s critical to understand this conversion to appreciate the central struggle at the genre’s core. Hip-hop’s identity is centered around this idea and no group represents this more at the moment than Griselda Records. Their feverish output of hardcore rap has infiltrated the candy coated, melody-driven streaming era. For those weary of autotune, Buffalo has your answer. Benny’s latest EP is a sequel to 2019’s explosive The Plugs I Met which housed the characteristics of a mixtape with its various producers and features. This outing is quite impressive, as Benny and Harry Fraud are both at the top of their game, however the guest selection is rather questionable. Still, Harry’s cinematic production is a fantastic accompaniment to Benny’s jaded delivery. Plugs 2 offers a somber side of these illicit lifestyles, which is a welcome contrast.
Out of the gate, Benny is frothing at the mouth. The brightly lit horns of “When Tony Met Sosa” ring like celebratory bursts over dinner. His wordplay here is simple, yet effective, “Turn these bread crumbs to a hedge fund.” Early on we’re treated to a few moments of glee. The wiry synths on “Overall feat. Chinx” triumphant chorus of “Plug Talk feat. 2 Chainz” are some of the highlights. “Live by It” carries a similar weight as Biggie’s “Ten Crack Commandments”. The fluttering strings sprinkle behind Benny as he barks knowledge to the infantry. Here, he’s as crystal clear as ever, “If its work in the house it belong to the trapper, and guns on tour buses always belong to the rapper.” Despite some crass moments of dated wordplay and bravado from the features, Benny’s lyrical grit is consistently engaging and colorful. Some of these tracks didn’t need outsourcing and would have benefitted from Benny tearing them up alone. Isn’t that kinda the point of Scarface? Less is more. Nipsey Hussle’s shadow looms heavily over “Longevity”, and fellow rap veteran Jim Jones’ inclusion is brilliant, but crammed in the center is a slurring French Montana. Fat Joe drops a pretty awful verse on “Talkin’ Back”, one that not only dates itself with a curious N-word drop but with a tone deaf Covid-19 joke as well. It’s no surprise the best cuts here are the one’s where Benny is by himself. The Plugs I Met 2 features some of this duo’s best work but uneven features keep the affair from being truly spectacular.