‘Raise the Bar’ is VIBE Hip-Hop Reporter Preezy Brown’s New Music Friday column. Each week he picks one Hip-Hop song or album that deserves your attention all weekend (but don’t worry, he’s also got a roundup of honorable mentions below).
This New Music Friday included a mix of albums that raised the bar, one of them being Tana Talk 4, the latest installment in Buffalo spitter Benny the Butcher’s mixtape series and his first drop of the new year. While the Def Jam signee’s major-label debut has yet to materialize, Tana Talk 4 is a great consolation prize in the meantime, as Benny strings together 12 selections that find him juggling plugs and connections while hopscotching the wiretaps alongside a mix of coke-rap stalwarts.
Preceded by the lead-single “Johnny P’s Caddy” featuring J. Cole, who teams up with Benny for one of the more acclaimed songs of 2022 thus far, Tana Talk 4 also boasts highlights like “Back 2x” feat. StoveGodCooks and “10 More Commandments” feat. Diddy. The latter song serves as a testament to The Butcher’s steady climb onto the mainstream’s consciousness.
Costars may help bolster the proceedings on Tana Talk 4, but Benny reminds listeners he’s well equipped to hold things down as a soloist, which “Thowy’s Revenge,” “Bust A Brick Nick,” and the album closer “Mr. Chow Hall” can attest to. Pair those cuts with features from his Griselda brethren Conway the Machine (“Tyson vs. Ali”) and Westside Gunn (“Guerrero”) and you’ve got a package of beats and rhymes about pure white that’s dope enough to leave listeners yearning for a continuous fix.
Regarding another bar-raiser, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dave East earlier this year. During our conversation, he revealed that we could expect multiple collaborative projects from him in 2022, particularly from a mix of his most frequent collaborators. While Beloved 2, the follow-up to he and Styles P.’s first joint-project, has yet to materialize, as promised, East returns with his latest effort, HDIGH (How Did I Get Here), which is produced entirely by duo Mike & Keys. Running a brisk nine tracks in length, HDIGH finds the Harlem rep giving insights into his past and how it’s brought him to this present stage in his life.
Having portrayed rap star Method Man on the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga during its past two seasons, East now trades bars with the legend, who turns in an invigorative appearance on the opening salvo, “Unbelievable.” Comparing himself to the likes of businessmen Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, as well as crime bosses like Rich Porter, John Gotti, and Al Capone, East slyly blurs the lines between corporate and street hustling on “1000 Miles,” one of the more electric offerings on HDIGH. A favorite among the ladies, East taps into that bag with “Deeper Than Love,” a syrupy selection featuring crooner Musiq Soulchild that marks one of the rapper’s better attempts at catering to that segment of his fan base.
Additional features include Anthony Hamilton, who adds his gruff vocals to “John Lennon,” Kalan.Frfr (“No Cocaine”), and Trae Tha Truth (“Crash Out”). Elsewhere, Benny The Butcher and Steve Young tack bars on “Don’t Let Me Down,” which finds the trio putting forth a trifecta of stanzas atop a backdrop courtesy of Mike & Keys. Closing the proceedings with the aptly titled “Gregory Hines,” a song East saunters across with precision, the Harlemite adds to his discography with yet another quality project. HDIGH doesn’t entirely live up to the premise of its concept but it’s an enjoyable listen nonetheless that certainly raised the bar in its own right.
In addition to this week’s headliners, there was a slew of releases worthy of honorable mention, including new albums from DJ Chose (Multi), Bun B & Cory Mo (Mo Trill), Fly Anakin (Frank), Elzhi and Georgia Anne Muldrow (Zhigeist), and Warhol.ss (Where’s Warhol 2).