In an era of hip hop where it’s easier to play it safe and apologize than stick to your guns and speak your mind, Jarren Benton has quickly amassed a following of people that can appreciate the refreshingly small amount of fucks he gives about what people think.
Jarren Benton is an emcee through and through, and his lyrics come from a place of untamed expression that many artists these days shy away from, or venture into only to end up apologizing for what they said later. Benton isn’t about that life.
Recently we caught up with the Funk Volume spitter to talk about his feature on Stevie Stone’s new album 2 Birds 1 Stone, the state of hip hop, and more! Read the full interview below and make sure to cop 2 Birds 1 Stone to hear his insane feature on “1 O’Clock Jump”.
How did Stevie approach you for this? Did he already know which track he wanted you on when he reached out?
You know what, I’m not even sure man, cause I remember – it’s crazy man. I think me and Stevie have a mutual homie named Mike, and Mike was the driver on the Funk Volume Tour, and he said he was with Stevie and he was playing some of my shit, and the crazy thing about it was when he was in the car with us he was playing Stevie’s shit, and I was like, “Yo I fuck with Stevie Stone, this shit crazy”, and the same vice-versa and Stevie felt the same way. So he reached out and wanted to get on a track and he sent that particular track, and when I heard it I immediately fucked with it. I like dude’s style, and the beat was hard as fuck so as soon as I heard it I was like, “I gotta definitely go in on this shit.”
Hell yeah. Have you gotten to hear the album yet?
Nah man not yet! I’m gonna check that shit out, we been on the road… so I’m actually gonna buy a copy, I gotta get that shit.
Word! In your verse on “1 O’Clock Jump”, you say some gnarly shit. What do you think about the recent string of emcees that have come out and apologized for lyrics after the fact?
Honestly, I think it’s bullshit. The reason why I think it’s bullshit is: this is nothing new, this is hip hop. Hip hop was based on voicing your opinion regardless of how extreme it is, and by doing that we built a platform, and that platform, we called it hip hop. So when we built a platform called hip hop, we built a culture, and when you build a fuckin’ culture, people wanna be a part of the fuckin’ culture. And when people want to be a part of a culture as cool as fuckin’ hip hop, it helps shit out.
So when a corporation reaches out to hip hop – corporations reach out to hip hop in order to help boost their sales, to help boost their clientele, so when you apologize on behalf of your art… this is nothing new, this is what hip hop has been. Corporations need to do their fuckin’ job of researching which artist they’re gonna fuck with in general. We have more power than the corporations, but unfortunately in the hip hop community, we don’t really come together in that sense as far as business goes. We have more power, and if someone wants to take the power away from us, we can say, “Yo fuck this corporation, they didn’t respect my point of view or my art and they wanna drop me”. So we could flip it and say some shit like, “don’t fuck with Reebok or don’t fuck with Sprite”, and I guarantee you people won’t fuck with Sprite, because hip hop has got a lot of power, but we don’t exercise our power….look at me I sound like a politician and shit.
It’s bullshit because this is nothing new, hip hop has been this way, we been back and forth with this. Even in the 80’s when the shit first started with the freedom of speech with 2 Live Crew and shit man, we been through that shit. The platform has been built, this is one of the most expressive art forms, so I don’t think no one should be apologizing. And It’s also sort of like, you know what you’re getting and I hate re-iterating, but this is nothing new, you know what you get with hip hop. This is like me going to a Klan rally, and being fuckin’ shocked that they use the word “nigger”. It’s like, OK….dickhead you’re going to a Klan rally, that’s how it goes, they do shit like that. So, honestly I think it’s bullshit.
You also drop the “ATLien” in there at the beginning of your verse. Do you have a favorite Outkast album?
Yo man, to me…fuck it, I gotta say it. A lot of people always say Aquemini but i think ATLiens is the dopest Outkast album. ATLiens by far, and then Aquemeni. ATLiens is crazy man, from beginning to end. I would probably actually say Aquemini, but I heard Aquemini so much. When Aquemini dropped, I was a teenager working at a record store, and Outkast did an in-store at the store I worked at, so we had to hear that album non stop all day, and I did two shifts – it was a weekend- so I heard that album every fuckin’ second…so I gotta say ATLiens.
You did an AWESOME video with Rittz and Jon Connor a while back. Is there a possibility of getting some equally awesome visuals for this track?
Hell yeah man! Yo, if Stevie wanna do a video, I’m 1 million percent open. Let me know the time and place and I’m there, hell yeah.
Can we expect more work between you and Strange in the future?
Hell yeah! Yo, let me say this man, I’d love to do more work man. I’m about to start working on a new project soon, and it’s a couple artists i’m trying to reach out to. I actually did a song with Mayday man, and unfortunately I didn’t get to put it out!
Shit is crazy, it’s called “Cloud 9”, but i originally did the song with another artist, and the artist said he wasn’t rappin’ anymore so he said “fuck it i’m done rappin'”, and I asked him what he was doin’ with the song and he said, “You can do what you want with the song”, so I took his verse off the song and I reached out to ¡MAYDAY! and they threw a verse on the song, shit was crazy. So then I guess the dude that produced it kinda got wind that the shit was poppin’ and he ended up putting the song me and him did – after he told me I could use it – he ended up putting it on iTunes, so I didn’t get to put it on my album.
So I want to do another track with ¡MAYDAY!, definitely want to do another track with ¡MAYDAY!. I definitely wanna do another with Stevie. Rittz is the homie, so I’m definitely reachin’ out to him… Yo, the whole roster dope, and eventually I wanna do somethin’ with Tech and Krizz…the whole crew man, CES Cru, them muhfuckas sick too! I fuck with y’all heavy, so definitely expect more work in the future.
What would you like to see come from Hip Hop in the future? Like what changes would you like to see & what would you like to remain the same?
If I was to say any changes I’d say – I mean hip hop started out like this, very diverse, and then we went through a period where it wasn’t as diverse, so what I mean is we went through a period where radio and mainstream was only showin’ love to a certain type of hip hop. So if I could say any changes, I’d say more diversity and more balanced shit as far as the mainstream goes.
There’s so many dope independent and underground artists, I’d like to see more diversity and more of the mainstream reaching out to a lot of the underground and independent artists and I think that helps out the fan base for the independent artists and also the fan base for the mainstreams, because some underground artists might not fuck with certain mainstream artists, but when you bridge those two fuckin’ entities together, people will fuck with you more. So I’d ask for more diversity and more balance from the mainstream end, but it’s gettin’ there, i’m seeing a lot of diversity now.
Like, shit, even now I’m lookin’ at MTV and you’ll see a Tech or a Rittz video, and then like a Kendrick and then a Juicy J… it’s gettin’ there. If anything could stay the same… I just hope we don’t start dumbing down lyrics due to the oversensitive fuckin’ people. If you don’t fuck with the music, don’t fuck with it. If I don’t like the music, I’m not gonna fuck with it. I’m not gonna complain, I’m just not gonna fuck with it.
Anything you’d like to say to our fans before you get out of here?
The main thing I wanna put out there man is…and when I say this shit, this ain’t a cliche thing to say, it’s not like a thing to say as in just habit…I just wanna say – when I say this I truly genuinely mean this – I truly appreciate the support man. Because without y’all a lot of this shit wouldn’t even be happening, so I think the power of the artist is a mutual thing between the artist and the fan. The artist is only hot by the fans fuckin’ with you and showing you love, so I wanna say I truly appreciate the love and support, and stay tuned fuckin’ with ya boy cause I got more dope shit in the works.
Keep up with Jarren Benton on Twitter: @JarrenBenton
His new album My Grandma’s Basement is available now!