“A family, a crew, a rap label, the homies, Black Soprano Family is everything and we stand on that.”
Created in 2012, Black Soprano Family is a label that features Benny the Butcher, Elcamino, Rick Hyde, Loveboat Luciano, Heem, Flexxbabyy, Fuego Base and a plethora of other rappers, producers and music executives. While Benny has been busy dropping dope freestyles, vivid verses, ruthless lines and incredible albums, he’s also been grooming some of the hardest rappers to come out of Buffalo since himself.
I remember the first time I heard of Benny, it was on Westside Gunn’s 2016 album Flygod on the song “Shower Shoe Lord.” The first thing I thought was, “Who is this guy?” His voice was so gruff, his lyrics were so descriptive, and his delivery so matter-of-factly.
The next showing where Benny instantly gained my fandom in full was on Westside’s 2018 album Supreme Blientele. His verse on “Brossface Brippler” is by far the most ruthless and vivid verse I might have ever heard of from a rapper up until that point and for some reason, it resonated with me. Yes, I never sold drugs, I was never on the streets and I’ve never been in jail. But Benny’s willingness to be authentic and honest gained my respect. For some reason, when Benny rapped, “Sold dope with so much cut, that it clogged they needles,” I was completely sold. At that point, I knew that this wasn’t a life that Benny fabricated, It was a life he lived. He was the author and I was reading his story.
I always enjoyed every member of Griselda’s music for different reasons. Westside is always so fly and full of bravado. Conway has a way of putting lines and verses together that is so creative and entertaining. But for me, Benny always felt like he was the most relatable. He could go from rapping about street shit to talking about putting “pictures of my kids up applying toothpaste” and make it sound seamless.
Some people may criticize Benny for glorifying a violent lifestyle, but I never took it that way. I see it as Benny being honest about what he’s been through. In the song “Plug Talk,” Benny raps, “They think I be glorifyin’ this street shit, not at all…I been glorifyin’ how far we came.”
In fact, Benny has come so far that now he’s gotten to the point where he’s able to put on other artists. BSF is now a solidified rap label. Heem, Luciano, Rick Hyde, Fuego Base and Elcamino can demonstrate their skills as MCs to the world and trust me, they ain’t slacking.
Their new compilation album, Long Live DJ Shay, is not only a warning to every rapper out there that BSF is here to stay; but also a celebration of DJ Shay, a hip-hop producer who worked closely with Griselda and the Black Soprano Family.
“DJ Shay was my mentor,” said Benny. “He was a guy who always had the space and time for us in his studio. So we could hone our craft and brush up on our skills. He is what Michael Watts is to Houston. What Dre is to Compton. What Primo (DJ Premier) is to New York City. That’s what DJ Slay meant to us and Buffalo.”
Along with BSF, Long Live DJ Shay also features some of the usual suspects such as Westside Gun, Conway The Machine, Boldy James, Armani Caesar, Stove God Cooks, DJ Premier and many others.
While Benny is featured on songs throughout the project such as “Shay Face,” “Times Is Rough,” and “Bigger Bsf,” he takes a step back and allows his BSF brethren to get some shine and notoriety.
“This is for them. I wanted them to get their shine on, get their points across and talk their shit,” said Benny. “I got a situation where people will be hearing my music. This is a big opportunity for people to hear their music. I fell back and let the guys do their shit.”
The fam didn’t slack. Rick Hyde’s flow on “Pandemic Flow” is monstrous. Heem’s lyrics on “Bastard Child” are authentic. Elcamino’s voice fits the sample on “Brody” perfectly. Loveboat Luciano rides the production on “Li-Lo” smoothly.
Every member of BSF was put in a position to succeed and as a result, Buffalo has once again solidified itself as a city where dope and gritty rappers come from.
“It’s another notch on the way to solidifying our spot in the game and to show people it ain’t only Griselda,” Benny said. “Of course, Griselda sets the tone for everyone else in upstate New York. But this also shows people that we got crazy talent up here. Spitters who are nice with their pen.”
Despite the success Benny, Griselda and BSF have experienced, people still seem to criticize their method of dropping multiple projects every year. But despite the criticism, they don’t plan on changing their approach to releasing music anytime soon.
“The kind of music we do, people don’t digest it the way they do with other artists,” said Benny. “After we drop one project, in other six months someone’s going to want another project. I know people say music ain’t like how it used to be but music is consumed differently. Me, I’m not slowing down.”
Benny’s attitude has translated to everyone else in BSF. Nobody plans on slowing down. The entire Black Soprano Family plans on moving towards their goal, solidifying Buffalo as the premier city when it comes to producing the fiercest MCs in the game, and it’s worked for them so far.