Two underground titans merge their collectives together to display the family ties that stem from a relationship that goes beyond the hip-hop world.
It’s always nice when two amazing artists link together for a full-fledged collaboration project. Instead of taking the limelight for themselves, rappers Benny the Butcher and 38 Spesh utilize their notoriety in the hip-hop world to help shine light on their artists. Benny’s Black Soprano Family, or BSF, and Spesh’s Trust Comes First (T.C.F) both had amazing runs in 2020, with BSF doing a collaboration with Atlanta’s own DJ Drama and T.C.F. taking over the underground with the help of artists like Apollo Brown, Planet Asia & Black Thought.
The crossover compilation contains 10 tracks of the grittiest coke rap records with a run time of 31 minutes. For the relatively short amount of time this album plays, there’s enough content in the album to keep listeners satisfied after each listen. While it may not show Benny and Spesh at their individual best, Trust the Sopranos brings the best out of their artists to shine brighter than them.
While the content of the album is enough to keep listeners entertained throughout the course of the album, there are certain records where the artists take a left approach compared to what we’re used to. This is more noticeable on the first single of the album, “Immunity”, with Benny the Butcher and Elcamino. At first sight of these names together, listeners have an idea of what to expect, but rather than follow the grimy boom bap sound the two are used to, this single takes a more trap-inspired approach. This isn’t a bad thing per say but seeing the shift to this sound can definitely throw listeners off and shake up the cohesion a tad bit. Make no mistake though, this shows artists like Benny and Elcamino can dip into various styles and make it work.
In a genre where ego plays a significant role towards your performance as an emcee, the two manage to set their leadership status aside to allow their signees to put in some work of their own. But don’t get it twisted as Benny and Spesh lay some killer verses of their own, standing their ground against the future of their companies.
Being that this is a compilation album, not many guest features appear on the album, but pieces of the BSF and TCF roster make appearances all throughout the project. Benny & Spesh deliver verses here and there, but the sole purpose of the project was to bring their artists to a different level of limelight. One of the main highlights was a solo record from BSF’s very own, Heem, titled “Long Story Short.” The BSF signee rises to the occasion, crafting one of the most passionate verses on the album. Another standout comes from the only female emcee on the project’s roster, Che Noir. Appearing on two records (the emotional “Love Lost” and the poignant “Price of Fame”), Che Noir steps up to the bat, completely smashing her two verses out of the park and proving she’s one of hip-hop’s most underrated emcees.
The production behind the album was all handled by 38 Spesh himself, who still managed to throw in a few of his own verses here and there. As mentioned earlier in the review, the sound of the album was mildly different compared to the coke rap style that both camps have been stamped with. Being that this is a compilation, the album really doesn’t have a distinct sound in production that allows it to stick like other BSF/TCF classics. This variation in production displays great range from a production standpoint, but comes at the cost of the overall cohesion of the album. Each track appeals to its own niche, which can loosen the focus of the album’s flow.
Aside from the lack of cohesiveness, the Trust the Sopranos compilation itches a scratch that hip-hop has needed for a while. Often times, when see crossover compilations occur, the two camps involved either fail to spark a chemistry between crews or fall victim to the recent trends in music. Upon first listen, its evident that there’s genuine love between Benny’s Black Soprano Family and Spesh’s Trust Comes First. Both cliques sound great on record together and exquisitely display how competition between two camps can exist without any animosity between artists.
While the project has its proper flaws, theres no denying the insane amount of talent that Benny and Spesh have helped curate. The underground renaissance has birthed some of the dopest emcees in hip-hop right now – including Benny and Spesh – but to see them be able to pass down the torch to another generation of artists concerned with preserving the culture is a blessing to hip-hop. While not perfect, this compilation does do a great job giving listeners a taste of what to expect from each emcee on the tracklist.
7.5 / 10
Best tracks: “Long Story Short”, “Spineless”, “Tokyo Drift”, “Love Left”, “Price of Fame”