ButtaBeats has 18-years in the game, and lyrically it shows. What’s dope about him is his consistency. He is quick to point out that topics that swirl around inequality, social injustice, and black power have been present in his music since the mid-2000s; America being America today, his messages now seem to have not just a place, but a particular potency that makes them all the more powerful. The Revenge of Charles Martin is an enjoyable listen. Blending social commentary with gritty first-person accounts of street life, he delivers a lyrically consistent — though sonically varied — body of work.
“My family, the people that are just like me, have been going through this shit forever,” Butta notes on the intro. He concludes the thought by biting that as an eighties baby, he felt as though perhaps he had “arrived,” and that the troublesome race relations of the past were somehow behind him (them). That isn’t the case, and it’s a theme he gravitates to off the jump. The title-track is bars on bars (on bars) of incredibly self-aware pro-blackness mixed with streetwise knowledge-of-self and industry jadedness.
“This is revolution, man, drink that shit responsibly,” he raps.
He keeps this energy throughout, but his beat selection takes some twists and turns. The trap vibe of “Live Stream,” the reggae splash of “Champion Sound,” the soulful piano on “Right Away,” and the straight-up West Coast knock of the “The K Weeze Session,” make for an ecclectic journey.
There were some standouts, the piano-driven “Climate Change” has — in my opinion — his best schemes on the project. “I move through these smoke-filled rooms, 16s lift you out of the tomb, pull these young dudes out of the womb … feed them knowledge from right out of the spoon, cause you are exactly what you consume or listen to,” he raps. Flame emojis galore.
“Dead Already,” which explores the realness of street life — and how fake rappers can be — and “Diaspora” with its theme of misplaced love and betrayal also really shine with the beat selection and bars.
“They Know” is the odd man out; the album outro is dope, but came out of nowhere.
The industry is built to keep this kind of wokeness out of the mix. With acts like Tekashi69 pushing a brand of normalized self-destruction and gang culture into the forefront, the game lacks the type of balance that Butta Beats provides. I mean, the sheer fact that he replaced all the ‘N’ words with Ninja says something about where his head is at.
The Revenge of Charles Martin is lyrically dense, and worth a spin or two. Press play.