Review: Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud, ‘The Plugs I Met 2’

The sequel to the cult coke rap classic extends the Griselda rapper’s echelon, sticking to his thesis while evolving sonically.

Benny the Butcher and Harry Fraud was the production duo we didn’t know we needed until now. Benny has maintained his status as one of rap’s most important figures, and Harry Fraud has delivered nothing less of excellence since his entry in the game. With Benny experiencing his new wave of fame in the limelight, it would seem natural that a producer like Harry Fraud who ties to the underground and the mainstream would be the perfect fit for a rapper like Benny to work with. Having Harry Fraud handle the production this time around would help Benny make a record that would appeal to both audiences but maintain its essence. And what better way to obtain that collaboration with a sequel to the 2019 coke rap classic, The Plugs I Met.

Compared to its predecessor, The Plugs I Met 2 takes a very different approach sonically. Whereas the first The Plugs I Met was more grittier and edgier in terms of production, the sequel feels more lush and luxuriant.

The project has a relatively short run time of 9 tracks in 28 minutes, quite similar to the formula utilized in the first The Plugs I Met. For being such a short project, Benny manages to cover multiple styles throughout the project, while keeping the tracklist fairly cohesive. Whether it be the bouncy trap record “Plug Talk” or the passionately delivered “No Instructions,” Benny flexes his artistic range, proving he’s progressed since blowing up with the underground cult classic, Tana Talk 3. Once again, Fraud’s chilled production acts as the backbone to this project and plays a huge factor in the replay ability of the project. If you’re not here for Benny, then you’re definitely tapping in for Harry Fraud’s production.

If there’s one thing that remains the same in any Benny project, it’s his ability to show the duality of being a street dude and, for the most part, that doesn’t change on The Plugs I Met 2 either. Benny being a product of the dope boy lifestyle adds authenticity to the music. For example, when you hear Benny spit the lines: “Guns don’t make you safe, but I’m strapped with mines / It’s about awareness and your reaction time”, its evident that intentions aren’t to glorify the lifestyle, but provide the ups and downs to living such a dangerous life.

Songs like the aforementioned “Plug Talk” provide the upbeat tracks that deliver the typical perception of being a drug dealer. But for every one of those tracks we receive a song like “Survivor’s Remorse”, which deals with the trauma most street dudes experience on the come up and when finally making it in the industry. At this point, Benny is aware of the audience he is trying to appeal to, which proves to be a very significant strength when it comes to making music.

There’s no doubt Harry Fraud has proved to be one of the most consistent producers of the last decade. Even prior to the release of this album, Fraud teamed up with lead Diplomat and ex-rival, Jim Jones to release their first collaboration since reconciling, titled The Fraud Department. Fraud already had the streets on lock with that project, and finally being able to release The Plugs I Met 2 ⏤ which was recorded simultaneously along the Hit-Boy produced, Burden of Proof ⏤ adds and extra missile to his production catalog.

His lush and luxurious-sounding production laces with Benny’s braggadocio coke rap to create a perfect blend of styles, suitable for all listeners and perfect for hardcore fans. Fraud’s signature style shines the most on “Longevity,” where he takes it back to the Coke Boys days with an exotic sample over a gritty foundation for the beat. The track also allowed Benny to reconcile two previously feuding New York street legends, French Montana and Jim Jones, who both delivered exceptional verses.

While we know Benny as the menacing lyricist who shines on each and every track he’s on, his approach on this project is more personal than his other albums. Benny’s always gonna include his street tales into his projects, but on The Plugs I Met 2 theres a perfect balance of the tales of glory and the painful consequences of being a hustler. This is most noticeable on the emotional track “Survivor’s Remorse” where Benny discusses dealing with the guilt that comes with making it out of the streets while most of the people you came up with are dead or in jail. On that same song, Benny raps the line (“I answer every call from jail ’cause that could’ve been me”). Benny’s never been one to bite his tongue when sharing his experiences from his time in the streets, but this project is thoroughly focused on the pros and cons to the lifestyle.

Benny and Harry Fraud have each contributed to the modern landscape of hip-hop in their own ways, but it was very interesting to see their chemistry as a duo on this project. Both being frequent collaborators with some of the most significant names in the culture, we were bound to receive this collaboration sooner or later. Despite not having any songs together prior to The Plugs I Met 2, the two have a thorough connection to tracks all the way back to the Coke Boys. While we know Harry as a direct associate to the movement with French Montana, Chinx Drugs and plenty more, Benny shares an interesting link to the movement as well.

On his come up, Benny paid French Montana to do a feature on one of his mixtapes. French took a young Chinx Drugs to the studio session, where he would ask to get on the song as well and Benny accepted. The two bonded over the deceased street legend, Chinx (R.I.P.), which brought them closer and made the collaboration deeper than just another project. The two creatives meshed together so well that another collaborative project would be accepted with open arms. Benny and Harry Fraud coming together was not just big for their individual careers but was a hip-hop highlight overall.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being an artist has to be the constant comparisons to any of your older work. However, being that this is a sequel, it was hard not to make the comparison to its predecessor. Compared to the first installment, The Plugs I Met 2 took a more relaxed and comfortable approach to the record, while the first was more grimier and edgier in every aspect. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but when the core fanbase is built upon those who embraced the feel of the first project, it’s hard for an artist to branch out of that sound.

With that being said, The Plugs I Met 2 is an amazing record, but the first The Plugs I Met scratched an itch that hip-hop required for a very long time. Besides that, the only other gripe with the project comes with a specific line on the braggadocios “Talkin’ Back,” where the OG, Fat Joe, delivers a very insensitive line calling the deadly coronavirus, the “Wuhan virus.” Fat Joe is a legend that deserves his flowers but in a time where attacks on Asian-Americans is at an all-time high, the term “Wuhan virus” is a very thoughtless term.

Benny the Butcher and Harry Fraud delivered an amazing collaboration project with The Plugs I Met 2. Considering this was a sequel to the cult classic The Plugs I Met, there was a lot of pressure from fans for Benny to come through on the project. While he didn’t take the same approach as the first project, Benny linking up with Harry Fraud was a great decision that allowed him to expand his sound and display his diverse range. Benny and Harry Fraud make a fantastic rapper/producer duo and managed to deliver an amazing sequel to the coke rap classic.

8 / 10

Best tracks: “No Instructions”, “Survivor’s Remorse”, “Overall”, “Thanksgiving”