Studio Sessions | Benny the Butcher talks getting deeper about brother’s death, working with Hit-Boy and Harry Fraud; and more
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the BSF boss talks linking with DJ Drama for first label project, how the Harry Fraud-produced project differs from his Hit-Boy produced work, and the status of ‘Tana Talk 4 and 5.’
For “Studios Sessions,” we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
“I always do it for weeks at a time. People don’t really be seeing me. They don’t really be knowing where I will be at,” Benny the Butcher revealed to REVOLT with a laugh. “Right now, I have two albums done. I’m working on what I’m going to drop third quarter of next year.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the BSF boss talks linking with DJ Drama for first label project, how the Harry Fraud-produced project differs from his Hit-Boy produced work, and the status of Tana Talk 4 and 5. Read below.
The BSF Gangsta Grillz project is coming out on Friday (July 31). How long did it take you and your newly formed label to work on that?
It really took a week because we already had music for it. We took our time on it and put it together. I met DJ Drama a few years ago. [Westside Gunn] introduced me to Drama. West did an interview with him and he included me in it. I did one with Drama when Plugs came out. I f**k with the whole Generation Now.
If there wasn’t a pandemic, you would’ve been just getting off tour with Russ last month. How did that change your recording?
To be honest, it’s better as far as recording because I got time to record. I’m not recording in between shows or interviews. I get a chance to focus and sit down.
What songs were you able to record these last few months?
I probably would’ve been recorded them, but songs like “Did I.” The other song I did that’s the hardest s**t that ever lived, “Deal or No Deal.” Songs like that I recorded and do a video to. They’re just fire. Not being on tour and having to run around a million places put me in a position to do that.
You’ve been pursuing your rap career since you came home from Elmira Correctional Facility in 2012. How have you gotten better at recording over the years?
My consistency. I’m more consistent with it. Even though I felt like my talent was up there, when you’re in the streets doing what you’re doing, your focus is not all the way there. Being able to do this for a living, it gets my attention a thousand percent.
What does Benny need in the studio?
When I’m in the studio, I need a bottle of D’usse and a bottle of Bombay lemonade. I need my girl India with her BSF chain and her Rollie sitting somewhere in the corner texting on the phone. I need the beat playing. I need the homies around because it’s about to be a movie, so I need an audience. That’s how I like to record. I do that in phases. In a couple of months, I might be back in the phase where I like to record by myself and at home. I basically recorded half of The Plugs I Met at my house. I recorded “5 to 50” at my house. So, I might get back to that. Right now, I’m out. It’s showtime. I want everybody to see this.
When did you know The Plugs I Met was going to be special?
When Pusha T and Black Thought sent them verses back. I knew it was going to have a lot of people’s ears. The production I had on there with Daringer and Alchemist. I was hungry. I was in a position where I was really starting to get comfortable touching this new rap money and doing stuff for my family. I was in a good spot.
Has the pandemic affected how you’ve recorded?
We have a BSF house. It’s a big house with a lot of rooms. We have a couple of studios in that house. So, no matter what was going on, I was going to record. We run everything in-house. Black Soprano Family runs like a well-oiled machine.
You’re working on The Plugs I Met 2 with Harry Fraud. Is that done?
That’s fully done.
How long did it take you to work on that?
I didn’t want a project with Harry Fraud to be any ole project. I thought it’d be fire if he brought his energy to the Plugs I Met series I’ve been doing. I did Plugs 1 through Next Records. It only made sense. That’s my boy, too. We have been had this music done. It’s been finished for a couple of months. In between touring and everything last year, that’s when I recorded the Burden of Proof project with Hit-Boy and The Plugs I Met 2 with Harry Fraud.
How did you work on those two projects at the same time?
It’s two totally different feels even though it’s me spitting the words. I’ll tell you this: Hit-Boy is his own individual who lay his own path, and the same is true for Harry Fraud. With Hit-Boy, every song was recorded in L.A. With Harry Fraud, every verse was recorded in Brooklyn. The tones of those projects are totally different. That comes out in the music. They took two totally different approaches.
Are there songs from those projects that reflect the emotions you had while making them?
For sure. I’m talking about losing my brother and going a little in-depth with it. Every time I speak about it, I get deeper and deeper into it. I never really gave a long speech or wrote a whole song about my brother being gone. I’ve never done that. I tell different things as I go along. I got asthma. I’ve been rapping for so long and I never spoke on it, and put that in a rap. But, I’m rapping about it this time. Also, I’m speaking about my moms and my daughter.
What was the most memorable studio session you’ve ever been in?
Early in my career in 2017, I was in a studio session with Royce [Da 5’9”]. My first time meeting Royce was during a tour, everybody was asleep and he was up recording. He saw me mumbling and asked, “You got a verse for this?” There are 10 n**gas in the room and everybody is asleep everywhere except him and I. I went in the booth, spit it, he liked it, and we did four other joints that night. Imagine doing four songs with Royce Da 5’9” in the wee hours of the night.
One of the biggest draws for your music is how honest you are about your experiences. Have you ever changed your music because you were being too honest?
Nah. Honestly, not to me, because I’m just an a**hole like that. I feel like I wouldn’t say anything that would get me incriminated. But, at the same time, I have had people around me come to me. They weren’t like, “Yo, damn, chill (laughs).” My n**gas tell me to be careful like, “You’re rapping and s**t, but everyone ain’t rapping.” Sometimes n**gas will have their input and I know I have to be careful. But, a wise man told me something that I agree with: “The s**t I’m holding back is even worse.” Consciously, I don’t say everything. There’s s**t you can’t say. This is my life. When I tell my story, I don’t feel I’m glorifying it. It’s a testimony.
Besides the Gangsta Grillz project, you’re also working on an album for your BSF label. How has the making of that been compared to creating a solo project?
When I’m working on a Benny the Butcher album, I’m tapping in with my producers and after I get the songs together, if I’m not with the artist, I’m sending songs to the artists. But, with Black Soprano Family, we’re deep as f**k so we’re always around each other. By the time I get my hands on a song, it probably already has a verse and a hook on it from the other artists on the label. I love it when someone brings something to the table and I just have to put my finishing touches on it. That’s how I, West, and Conway do it.
What’s the longest you’ve ever been in the studio working on music?
Maybe about a month.
Do you mean a month straight of just staying in the studio and not going outside?
Yeah, not going outside. I always do it for weeks at a time. People don’t really be seeing me (laughs). They don’t really be knowing where I will be at. Right now, I have two albums done. I’m working on what I’m going to drop third quarter of next year. When I work hard I get to play hard.
What’s the status of Tana Talk 4?
I’m working on it now. I have all these projects out the way. I’m taking my time with it. It probably won’t come out until this time next year. I want people to know this is going to be an aged project that I took my time with. The anticipation for the Tana Talk series is a different level. I’m giving A-1 pressure on everything I do. I know what they expect on this. They expect the stories. They expect to hear what I’m going through. I’m going to keep a diary of my life from now until next year and call it Tana Talk 4 and 5. I’m doing a double album. You have to think, Tana Talk 3 was only 10 songs. I haven’t dropped a solo album in 14 months and I owe that to the people.
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