Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Griselda member BENNY THE BUTCHER continues Griselda's hot streak of dropping projects in 2020, and while some are misses there's definitely some great albums in there, which 'Burden of Proof' hopes to continue, from in my opinion - Griselda's best member.
The production is great from start to finish - it's near immaculate and very enjoyable, as the majority of beats here are soulful with slow drum patterns, such as on 'One Way Flight', which has this gentle and elegant beat that's so easy on the ear as the track see's the rapper flex their wealth, success and status as well as acknowledge where they came from and what choices had to be made, as Benny does this with great punchlines that leave you thinking, "What's a stage with no mic and no voice of a poet? // What's more important, the flower or the soil that grow it?". Freddie Gibbs has solid lines and glides this soulful beat so gracefully as well as giving us a nice hook as the beat is amazing and both rappers go H.A.M. on this real standout track. Other beats on here are more modernised with higher tempo's, thick synths and a more aggressive but lighter complimentary style, such as 'Timeless' which has these crashing synths and this gritty, thick style to it which keeps things interesting as Benny provides a great verse talking on his life before fame, hustling as a drug dealer and how he made it to the position he's at now. Lil Wayne on here has some really good punchlines, "Watchin' movies with a bitch that wouldn't watch a commercial with you", and comes with such charisma and a hungry delivery as he talks on guns, the opps and really eats the beat up while Big Sean's verse was great, he goes off despite being the weakest. Everyone does well here and the beat and hook is great - there's nothing not to like from this absolute banger. It works well with Benny's slick style, and it's more glamorous here than past projects. 'Trade It All' has these soulful vocals, a harmonica which is unique and decent drum pattern which sounds good as Benny gives us emotional verses with great bars talking on how he would trade all the fortune and fame for his brother back or anyone he lost along the way. It's a good track, it doesn't stand amongst the best on here but I still like it.
Benny never wastes a bar on this project, as it's full of hard bars all the way through, such as on 'Sly Green', "I'm a Christian Dior shirt rocker, two Glock wearer // Only rapper that would've thrived in the 2Pac era", as Benny flaunts his wealth and rapping skills as well as acknowledging money won't change him and he came from nothing over this electrifying bass and gentle synth line. It's a good song, but nothing great. I enjoyed the track but nothing about it is drawing me back. There's also some insightful and thought provoking lyrics at times as well, such as on 'New Streets', "It's gonna be hard to convince kids // But honestly, losses taught me more than my wins did", as the track paints an honest look at the street life including the negatives of it over this soulful beat with great vocal samples and glossy piano keys. It's a short but sweet track, it acts as a kind of interlude and is a great song still nevertheless (Since re-listening I believe this song to be below average to mediocre now). 'Legend' has great bars and punchlines all the way through, "Yo, uh, who can I depend on? Marry the game and death my in-laws", as the track focuses on the fact Benny is already a legend and flaunts his wealth and success coming from the streets over this victorious atmosphere with a light, soft beat and glossy keys and a great bass guitar melody before these trap drums come in and elevate this track to another level. The beat really pushes Benny along on this track and he does his thing, one of my favourite tracks to finish things off on this great album Benny's flow is so smooth throughout and his gritty, mean delivery with a hint of him being laid back is also great.
The features on here are all within Benny's lane, and all do great, including Griselda members on 'War Paint' as Westside Gunn provides a really smooth and enjoyable hook as Conway the Machine gives us a classic Conway verse with great bars and a nice listen as he tells us he's better than the rest over this soulful beat with a great percussion and drum pattern as well as bass guitar melody. The song is all about flexing their wealth and status, and Benny has decent braggadocio but Conway stole the show on this one - Westside Gunn's hook shouldn't sound good but it does and it's a great Griselda track. The leading faces in coke rap come together to show Benny is getting his deserved recognition, and they all drop solid verses as this album progresses. Rick Ross joins Benny on 'Where Would I Go', dropping some slick lines, "My kids in the mansion, it got a hundred rooms // Playin' hide and seek for weeks, what you wanna do?", over these deep sliding 808s and soulful vocal lines over this this mean drum pattern which all contrast well with each other, but I felt he should've gave more to his performance it just lacked that kind of energy and felt like he was just talking. Benny's verse was solid, and it's a decent track and I do like Ross' verse the more it goes on but it killed momentum at first, and while enjoyable the tracks a bit passive. 'Thank God I Made It' see's Queen Naija provide a really sweet and aesthetically pleasing hook over this soulful beat with a great, gentle synth line and slow drum pattern all coming together for a great beat as the track focuses on how Benny has made it - and you will too as he details his come up in a single parent home and respects his mum while hates his dad. Benny has some powerful lines in there, "Real n***** look in the mirror and see each other // I look in my nephew eyes and I see my brother // Sometimes I gotta look away 'cause it hurt so much // How that n**** died so young and he was worth so much? (Damn)", and it's a great track, with great verses, a great beat and a great hook.
The content is of course coke rap subject matter revolving around the street life, drug dealing and making it from that kind of lifestyle, such as on 'Over the Limit', as it talks on the real struggle of street life and how he's now living in luxury over this more aggressive beat with these in your face drums and this deep, murky bass which contrasts well with the spacey, cold synth line. Dom Kennedy's hook clashes with Benny's verses well as Benny provides some insightful bars and kills his moments as this track keeps up a run of consistently great tracks with yet another really good guest hook. Flexing his new found status is common as well, shown on the title track 'Burden of Proof' as he talks on making it in the rap game and making so much money despite coming from a crime-ridden neighborhood. He has some great punchlines and bars over this brass instrumental with a nice bass and drum pattern, and it's a nice intro to set the tone but it's nothing too special. 'Famous' see's Benny talk on how he never thought he'd make it out the hood and how he enjoys the money and fame he's acquired now - but he'll always be from the streets at heart over this evil bass and drums which are layered with these soulful vocals. Benny provides some great bars and punchlines all the way through, "They ask me how it feel, I guess n***** wanna know // I chose money over fame, how I end up with 'em both? // I'm just a dealer to the judge, and a sinner to the Pope", and it's a proper gritty banger with a menacing atmosphere and great braggadocio from Benny. I don't think the whole album is as detailed or relevant to his specific situation at all times, it's a bit broad but can get personal at moments as well.
To conclude, everything on this album is good to great, and I really do enjoy everything and it's a standout Griselda project of 2020. The production is solid, the rapping gives us an enjoyable listen and Benny delivered and it's definitely a contender for top 10 of the year. There's a more accessible sound than usual, and he played it relatively safe but even so it's still great from start to finish. The skits at the end of certain tracks as well were very enjoyable, whether funny or interesting they always provided entertainment.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: One Way Flight, Famous, Timeless, Thank God I Made It, War Paint, Legend
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: New Streets
OVERALL RATING: Solid 7.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*