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HHV Exclusive: Jarren Benton talks Funk Volume, “My Grandma’s Basement” album, and Atlanta hip hop

Jarren BentonBy The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Funk Volume is the movement that swept the hip hop nation. Based in Atlanta, the movement consists of members from all over the place. But, Jarren Benton holds things down right there in the hometown. Jarren Benton is from the Decatur area in Atlanta and is a talented hip hop artist.

This week was big for Jarren Benton, as he broke out of the shadow of the other members of Funk Volume. Earlier this week, Jarren Benton came up big with the release of his debut album, My Grandma’s Basement. To go along with the release of the album, the music video for “Go Off” with SwizZz and Hopsin was released.

Jarren Benton stopped by Hip Hop Vibe for a brief chat to speak on all that is going on in his world. As a member of Funk Volume, Jarren Benton already has an interesting story, but he has his own focus, My Grandma’s Basement. Hip Hop Vibe talked to Jarren Benton about his Funk Volume family, his new album, and Atlanta hip hop.

Read the entire interview below:

How did this whole Funk Volume situation come together for you? I put out a video out called “Skitzo” and it got a nice amount of buzz. Then, there was a fan of both me and Hopsin and this fan posted it on his wall and then he showed the video to Dame, who is the co-owner of Funk Volume and they sent me an email. Crazy thing was that I didn’t check my email for months and I was surprised because I knew who Hopsin was. I responded to them, then we talked, and he was a fan of my work. We kept in contact with each other and we were all at SXSW and we were at the same set. After doing SXSW, I finally met them in person, they were all cool as fuck, and their performance was crazy, Hopsin and Dizzy Wright’s showmanship was impressive and reminded me of shows I have done and then me and Dame had kept in contact with me. At the time, I was holding talks with Def Jam, but they had a lot going on that I did not understand, so I went to Arizona and did a show and they were there, the chemistry was their, I liked their vision, and then the fan base was huge. When Dame offered me a chance to join Funk Volume, we made it happen and that was July 2012.

Daily, the Funk Volume movement is getting bigger and bigger, what is it like to get a front-row seat to this show? It’s dope as fuck actually man. When I came in, the fan base was already there. I came into the movement a little later, because it was when the fan base first started to grow. We went out on tour and the fan base was crazy and being cool with everybody, I watch old videos that show how it all came together and how they started out performing in front of fifteen people. It is dope to be a part of the history in the making and seeing the legacy that is building, I am a part of this. I am the third Funk Volume artist on the roster and it feels great to get into something on the ground floor.

What is it about Funk Volume that you think is attracting the fans? What is it? Honestly, I think it is everybody sticking to their own lane is what is attracting the fans. From the beginning, though, it was Hopsin and also the anti-performing, which I mean with that is them rapping just for the sake of rapping what they like and not caring. The core of any movement is people going against the grain and that is what people forget. It is not going against the grain for the sake of going against the grain, it is doing it because it comes natural and this is organic, real shit. Sometimes the industry forgets that the people want something different. This is us, no gimmicks, no bullshit, then everybody on the Funk Volume roster is talented and when we come to your city, we put on a show. If you have quality work, people will fuck with it and that is what it is with us.

Of course, you attracted a large portion of fans with My Grandma’s Basement, tell us more about why you chose this title for your debut album? I chose this title because it fit the description of what I was trying to do. All of my other projects were a bit outlandish and non-personal. But, on this album, I touched on a lot of personal shit that took place while I was living in my grandma’s basement. I was down on my luck, had a kid on the way, and I was living in my grandma’s basement. I had a kid on the way, no job, just bad luck at the time, it was growing pains for me. This is when I decided I was just going to do music and I got serious with it, I started producing and began focusing on Jarren Benton. If I was going to do a project about me, I had to speak on the time I spent in my grandma’s basement and going through that is what made me. Not the whole album captures that, but several songs on the album do and you can see who Jarren is on the personal songs that tell about a grown ass man stuck living in his grandma’s basement and several songs off the album fit this title.

You had your grandma actually do the intro for the album, can you tell us how that came together and how you convinced her to do it? With my grandma, that’s really her. There was no acting or anything, that is really her. At the time, I needed an intro for the album and I was going back and forth about what to do with the intro. So, I decided to call my grandma and had her do the intro. I had her on the phone and held it to the mic and she did the intro, she told the world about Jarren Benton and what they were about to get into, there you have it.

What do you want the fans to get out of this project when they listen to it? The main thing that I want them to get is the personal side of me. I think people misinterpreted my earlier work, although it was dope, but I am an emcee, I love hip hop and this is reflected on this album. I was diverse with the hardcore hip hop, the turn up, and the lyrical stuff. I love it all in hip hop, so I conveyed this on this project. First off, I want people to enjoy it and to take in the dope quality and then I want people to realize I love hip hop and for them to realize that I am about to put my foot in the game and so far the album has a lot of positive feedback. This love is something I am really digging too.

How do you feel about the reaction to the “Skitzo” single and how well do you feel “Go Off” is going to do? Oh man, you know what is crazy about that single? I did not even want to put it on this project, I was not going to push it as a single. But, then it was included on the A3C compilation and the people took it and ran. I had no plans of pushing it like that and it has had the strongest feedback out of all my music. Then, “Go Off” is a strange song for me, I put it on the album, but I did not have plans of doing a video and making it a single, but Dame convinced me to do it. As an artist, you never know what is going to happen, it is the fans that make something out of it. You may have an opinion, but you do not know what is going to happen. But, fans are flocking to it because Hopsin and SwizZz are on it. It has been a while since they dropped any new music, so “Go Off” is a nice appetizer for my new album and also the music from Hopsin and SwizZz and I know this song is going to do well because fans cannot wait for those guys to come back with some new music. This is a weird ass song that a lot of people do not even get and I wanted some crazy shit, but this guy who produced the track, M16, produced “Duffle Bag Boy” with 2 Chainz and Young Jeezy’s “I Do.” But, I wanted people to put the feelings of the struggle out there in each verse, I wanted them to express their pain at the end of every verse. This song is a cry out, you want to “Go Off” for hip hop because no one is paying attention. They won’t let us in the game, so we are going to fucking “Go Off.” I feel the intro was weird, I always do weird intros, I don’t talk shit on my intro, I do awkward intros with a person screaming just to set the tone.

Being a native of Atlanta, how do you feel about the impact your city is having on the game? Yo! I think it’s dope man, I am born and raised in Atlanta. I have seen the transition from nobody paying attention to the scene to the people focusing on the pioneers like TLC and Kris Kross. But, there were no emcees from the city early on like what the West Coast and East Coast had, shit even the Midwest had it. But, then Outkast came and opened the doors for emcees in Atlanta and the Dungeon Family movement is some shit I witnessed and I am so proud of my city and what they are doing to the game. Going from nothing, Atlanta is now the stronghold of hip hop and I am from here and witnessed the start of this.

How do you feel about the current sound of Atlanta hip hop and what do you bring to the table that is different? I think the current sound is dope, but I am a different style of emcee. At one point, I was frustrated by the sound of Atlanta because it was difficult for me to get my sounds out there. I love it, don’t get me wrong, I grew up on shit like Three 6 Mafia, UGK, all of those Southern cats, T.I., Lil Jon, Young Jeezy, I have a lot of those cities. Atlanta always had a different sound, aside from that down South style and there are also those emcees who do not have that Southern sound. We even influence guys like Alabama’s Yelawolf, he lives here, and then we have B.o.B. What I bring is different than the typical Atlanta sound, but I do not feel it is something that has not been done before, but what I do is something you would not expect from most popular Atlanta rappers. I am a guy from Atlanta, born and raised here, but most of my music does not sound like the down South Atlanta stuff, but I do not feel it is something different, I am taking from my influences and mixing myself in. But, I love the sound of Atlanta and we are coming into the day and age where things that were not popular are popular now and a lot of dope shit, aside from myself, will be coming from Atlanta in the near future.

Would you please tell us about your admiration of Outkast? Hell yeah. Outkast is one of the elements of what Jarren Benton is. They are at the top of the food chain in my eyes. They came from the city when only the dance shit came from the South like the 2 Live Crew. Coming when that was the popular shit, they brought something different and twenty years later, they are still here and dope as fuck. They are the top of the food chain, the whole Dungeon Family, they are the key element of my movement, I am a huge fucking fan of them. They popped off Atlanta, they kicked the fucking door down for people like myself. My hat goes off, I throw that shit Michael Jackson style for them. Working with them would be a dream come true.

Can you give us your online info so fans can follow you? Oh yeah, my Twitter is @JarrenBenton, Instagram is also @JarrenBenton, check me out on Vine, and Facebook, it is all Jarren Benton.

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