Review: Benny the Butcher, ‘Tana Talk 4’

Buffalo’s golden boy releases the highly anticipated sequel to the series that helped elevate his art to the masses.

Benny the Butcher’s 2018 breakthrough project, Tana Talk 3, was undoubtedly one of the best albums to come out that year, immediately being dubbed an “coke rap classic” among the underground community. The project was a part of a series that represented the evolution of Benny the Butcher throughout the years, capturing the Buffalo emcee at a point where he was ready to blow up. Now with a solid catalog of albums and features under his belt, it was time for Benny to document and cover the next chapter of his artistic life.

Tana Talk 4 picks up right where the series left off and adds on to the enthralling, developing story of Benny and the BSF movement.

Photography: Johnny Nunez

A lot has changed within the Griselda movement since 2018. Most notably, the infamous record label has rose to the forefront of hip-hop and expanded it’s game-winning formula to sonically branch out from its roots. While the Hall N Nash duo laid the foundation for Griselda’s success, it was Benny’s rise to stardom that propelled the movement to new heights, to which he rightfully brags “I’m West’s best investment, but that’s between me and you.”

Though the trio never broke away from documenting the dope boy lifestyle in their raps, Tana Talk 4 taps back into the gritty nature that its predecessors emitted. Instead of opting for a traditional intro track, the project jumps in head first and quickly establishes it presence with the J. Cole-assisted single “Johnny P’s Caddy”. The customary Alchemist beat on the track seals the deal and preps the listener for a concise listen of face-screwing punchlines and soulfully grimy production.

Despite finding himself in a more comfortable position in his career these days, the Buffalo superstar manages to, once again, bring his A-game on the mic. On Tana Talk 4, Benny returns with the duality of delivering lessons from his troublesome past while restoring the authenticity of the drug dealing lifestyle. The stamped sequel to The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments” (titled “10 More Commandments”) displays this balance as Benny provides advice on how to move in that space. Though his last rule advised to get out of the game as soon as possible. Benny comes through with a batch of exceptional verses, flawlessly highlighted by the skittering production.

Instead of crafting a sporadic list for the production, Tana Talk 4 remains planted with the same set of beatsmiths that helped set the tone for the series: Alchemist, Daringer and Beat Butcha. The production list juggles between a soulful sound provided by Alchemist while Daringer and Beat Butcha weave a set of dusty beats for the project’s contradictory nature. The unfiltered essence present in each beatmaker’s craft is drenched in authenticity and provides a fitting platform for Benny to speak his truth, from going toe-to-toe with Cole on “Johnny P’s Caddy” to recapping his catalog of classics on “Guerrero”.

Whether Benny the Butcher is moving forward with Tana Talk 4 is debatable. But what it does do is justify its status as a Tana Talk tape. This is not just an instalment in name, which is why it can clash heads confidently with its iconic predecessor. His quotables are sharp as ever, delivering some of the most cutthroat lines of his career on “Billy Joe” (“By the third of the month I still had the best glass / I served my next door neighbor, my auntie and stepdad”), or the sinister “Uncle Bun” with 38 Spesh (“I sold dope to a fiend while she pregnant, emotionless / I’m not a caseworker”). There’s plenty foresight in the sound of the album, but the anecdotes remain gripping.

On Tana Talk 4, the Butcher remains proficient as ever, showing no sign of his grit ceasing. Consistency is becoming his middle name, in matrimony with his vision and fan expectations. Don’t fret Benny, the respect you’re looking for is unquestionably there.

8 / 10

Best tracks: “Johnny P’s Caddy”, “10 More Commandments”, “Billy Joe”, Weekends in the Perry’s”, “Back 2x”, “Uncle Bun”