Conflicted: A Griselda Film Soundtrack Review
2021 started off right with a few quality releases, and I’m not just talking albums. Griselda dropped their first film Conflicted, starring Benny the Butcher himself and the writer-actor Deuce King. A tale of an ex-con and his fight to avoid the street life that did him in the first time, it’s a familiar trope. Speaking of common themes, the accompanying soundtrack album rings a bell as well. Griselda and Co. aren’t the first to make a street movie (we’re looking at you, Roc-a-fella), nor are they a frontrunner for a commercial sister record (did someone call Top Dawg?). Regardless, it is to be expected that they would hold themselves to a high standard. While the quality may suffer slightly from the wide range of features and production credits, they managed to come through with a deserving album for the recent film.
The Gang’s All Here
Benny and Westside Gunn spread the word far and wide to gather the troops for this one. I neglected to mention the 3rd member of Griselda’s crew as Conway the Machine is oddly nowhere to be found. Joined by a massive entourage (as with any good soundtrack project), we got to hear verses from many underground rappers. Throughout the 45 minute run time, we got all types of tracks. Chase Fetti, Heem, Billy V, and Benny the Butcher kick off the experience with their blunt and brash verses traded over a hypnotic yet haunting beat on “Mobbin.” This contrasts against tracks such as Ransom’s “Pride,” with braggadocios production and celebratory, introspective lyrics.
As Real As It Gets
The poster boy for this short chapter, Benny reigns in a song for himself on “3:30 In Houston.” Perhaps the perfect example of what this whole thing is about, we get bars on bars about life in the street, and respect when it comes to family business. He even covers his impactful shooting that changed his life. While many movie soundtracks opt for more commercial, superficial lyrical content, it’s a relief to hear artists pouring themselves out into a project when others might just pump out quick tracks for promotion alone. The Butcher isn’t the only one getting real over these beats, Boldly James rears his head to spit on hustling and shamelessly lighting up the reefer alongside Fetti and Heem on “Voices.”
Even the 4th member of Griselda is present on the record, as producer Daringer whips up a couple instrumentals for the rappers to attack. The engineering across the entire album has very few weak points, and in fact it adds some variety beat-wise that isn’t found on some of the other Griselda-adjacent projects that generally are composed by one person or team. While the album itself may tend to wander in a few different directions in terms of sound, each producer brings respectable and street worthy material to the table. DJ Shay, Camouflage Monk, Cee Gee, and more were recruited to provide the backdrop to this journey through dark Buffalo neighborhoods.
Overall, this is a great project. Without any context, it’s cool for what it is. The amount of voices we hear across the run time is enough alone to keep us interested. Armani Caesar for example brought a totally new energy to the tracks such as “Nerve of You,” and “Mission Accomplished.” Unfortunately, the material packaged into this promotional soundtrack will likely suffer from the deluge of Griselda and Black Soprano Family releases that seem to never end (not that we’re complaining), drowned and doomed to be lost to history. Those who take the time to check it out are bound to be rewarded, though. Each character manages to bring something unique and interesting to their tracks, and the lyrical content is high-tier for being made to support the film, something not every soundtrack album can boast about.