Benny The Butcher Is Going Somewhere That ‘Everybody Can't Go'
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Photo by JOSHUA KISSI
Benny the Butcher is at a pivotal moment in his career. The Buffalo native released his first major label album, Everybody Can’t Go, on Jan. 26, and he had to change how things used to be before entering this new chapter of his life.
The 39-year-old is more popular than ever as he’s become a major label artist (signed to Def Jam Records in 2021), a 2023 Grammy nominee, and a collaborator with Drake and J. Cole. His music catalog has also achieved critical acclaim. If someone in 2014 were to say Benny would achieve all these accolades, many would cast doubt, especially when the general hip-hop fan would ignore his brand of street rap in favor of commercialized hip-hop.
He emerged in the mid-2010s as the younger, scrappy rapper in the Griselda Records collective alongside his cousins Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine. It wouldn’t take long for him to stand out from the pack with his gritty lyricism and street-inspired narratives, which were born in the underground hip-hop scene. Griselda’s music reached the masses, and Benny took it upon himself to take it even further.
Benny’s evolution saw him surpass expectations by showcasing a raw and undeniable determination to be the best. Once he inked the deal with Def Jam in 2021, his career accelerated quickly, and his life changed forever.
“I didn’t have this $100,000 car that I’m driving,” he tells EDITION about his evolution. “I’m getting more famous even though I released no new music before dropping Everybody Can’t Go. I’m being recognized in more spaces, and my words make headlines. People are engaging with me.”
All that attention has made Benny fully aware that things are changing for him by the minute, and Everybody Can’t Go is a testament to that remarkable growth. The album title reflects an age-old idea in hip-hop that a potential star will only grow if they remove whatever isn’t an asset, and Benny believes he has to do the same with those who are liabilities.
“I got a lot of people trying to latch on to me,” says Benny. “I got people around who wasn’t no good for me. I had to trim the fat and cut a lot of people off to get to this point. Now, I’m going even further, and I gotta do another roster cut again.”
He continues, “It’s getting easier too. Maybe in the beginning, it wasn’t that easy. But after I helped people out, after I took losses, and after the love that I showed wasn’t reciprocated, it’s way easier now. It’s like when I’m saying everybody can’t go, people are like, ‘He right.'”
Photo by JOSHUA KISSI
On the new album, Benny mixes various elements from his previous bodies of work, such as 2022's Tana Talk 4 and 2020's Hit-Boy joint effort Burden of Proof in order to ensure Everybody Can’t Go will be a “muthaf--king classic.” The album has 12 tracks and features from Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Jadakiss, Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine and more.
“Hit-Boy shit went crazy [peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard 200 chart], Tana Talk 4 with Alchemist and Daringer [peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 chart],” says Benny. “So what I did this time was I combined my powers from those projects. That’s how I looked at it. I tried to give them Tana Talk 4 mixed with Burden of Proof.”
When rappers become stars, the door is open for crossover opportunities with artists in other genres. Benny admits he’s been thinking about it but is curious if listeners would take him seriously, given the type of artist he is. He’s already done it in R&B by collaborating with Mary J. Blige on the track “Rent Money” off her Grammy-nominated album Good Morning Gorgeous.
“I’m an artist,” says Benny. “I love painting on blank canvases. I love working with different artists, but a lot of the shit these dudes do would not be accepted by me. So I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I don’t know if that means that the standard is so high for me that these guys can get away with some sh-t that I can’t. I’m stuck in the middle of that.”
Despite the uncertainty of crossing over, Benny is focused on the task at hand, and that’s developing and sticking to the formula that got him to this point in his career. “I’m just trying to figure out what is the next step and how can I take this movement further and continue to feed the Griselda narrative, the Black Soprano Family narrative, and continue to show people that I’m here for a reason,” he says.
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Photography by: Joshua Kissi