Jarren Benton is a livewire. Full of energy and capable of jolting your body into flailing motions with his brazen shock raps, the Atlanta-bred MC has built a buzzing career by channeling high-octane tunes from a personality that appears boisterous as can be. Yet, Funk Volume fans might be surprised to know that there’s much more to the man behind projects like Huffing Glue With Hasselhoff and Freebasing With Kevin Bacon.
During a recent conversation with TSS Crew’s BEWARE, Benton broke down his new My Grandma’s Basement debut, then gave some insight into what brings about the character driving his brand of rowdy rap and how the split-personalities end up affecting his life beyond the mic more than you ever could imagine.
TSS: After a few highly-regarded mixtapes, your debut album is finally out. What are your feelings about the response the project’s gotten so far?
Jarren: I’ve been completely satisfied with response, man. A lot of people been showing a lot of love. When I put it out I was kind of like ehhh, actually, it was moreso more when I was in the process of making it, because it was a little different than Freebasing From Kevin Bacon. It’s not completely different, but I tried to take a different approach. As an artist, you’re always worried how fans or newcomers are going to perceive new material you put out. But, so far, it’s been dope and I appreciate all the love.
TSS: How did you approach this project differently than Freebasing With Kevin Bacon and Huffing Glue With Hasselhoff?
Jarren: When I first approached Huffing Glue…a lot of people aren’t familiar with it, but I had put out a project before called Jarren Benton The Mixtape. That project was a little bit of everywhere, but it was mainly on the hip-hop side of things. Just the sound, the typical hip-hop sound. So, when I did Huffing Glue, I wanted to do something not as tame as my last one. But, it was only an EP. So, I did Freebasing, wanting to do another Huffing Glue, but f*cking on steroids. So, basically Freebasing was basically Huffing Glue on steroids. I was in a space where I didn’t feel like making anything meaningful. I just wanted to fucking turn up.
So, with this project I just wanted to find the balance. I would read the responses from certain fans and certain people who think that was all I was about, not knowing I’m really not. So, with this approach, I wanted a dope balance with the diverse sh*t, the turn up sh*t, your hip-hop sh*t, your retrospective sh*t and your hardcore MC sh*t. I just tried to add all the elements of myself into this one project and it’s a diverse project. I wanted to make it more than a one-track project.
TSS: You can tell. Certain songs on the album are straight up offensive shock rap – like “Razor Blades & Steak Knives,” while others – “Dreams” and “Life In The Jungle” – portray you as much more humane artist, who has a by all means necessary sense of survival. When writing, when do you draw the line between such extremes?
Jarren: You know, it depends on the beat. I usually let the beat bring it out of me. I’ll listen to the track and if the track just bring some beastly sh*t, I’m gonna’ go beast mode. If the track takes a more serious route, I’m going to take a more serious approach. I let the track speak to me really. I never try to limit myself and say ‘this is too much’ or ‘that is too much.’ If the track is calling for some retrospective sh*t, I’ll bring that out. If the track is calling for me to murder some f*cking women or cut off some legs, then that’s what’s going to come out. I let the track determine my mood.
TSS: How much did your affiliation with Funk Volume influence and affect the final product?
Jarren: Funk Volume, man, when I came in the gate with them, they already had such a strong fan base. And their fans are tough ass critics. They’ll eat you alive. So, that was the main influence, their fans. Being over at Funk Volume, the pressure was for me not to dilute what they had built. They had built such a strong platform. So, I didn’t want to be a newcomer that got on that platform and give their fans some bullsh*t. That was the main thing. As far as them influencing the actual music, that was all me. And that’s the dope thing about being with Funk Volume is that they let you do what they f*ck you want to do. But, the main pressure comes from just not disappointing the fans. And, from the response, I didn’t. So, that’s dope a thing.
TSS: Yeah, without a doubt. Fans are pretty fickle these days. So, if you can appease a fanbase that narrowed-in and critical, that’s excellent. Still, is there anything you would’ve changed in hindsight?
Jarren: Ahhh….the main thing, I was gonna’ do a double CD project. But, I think I put a sh*t load of songs…ah, you know what? I wouldn’t even change nothing, man. I take that back. I wouldn’t change sh*t.
TSS: You live and you learn, right? You takes those critiques to the next project.
Jarren: That’s that sh*t, man. When you sit there and think too hard on sh*t. Really, once you put it out, you just let the world and the fans determine. You make something out of nothing, but they’re the ones who take it to the next level for you.