What do you say to an individual like Jarren Benton when you meet first meet him?
There are many of things that can be mentioned.. You can praise him for being the dopest rising lyricist you've ever heard. You could ask him questions about his rise to fame in this thing we call the "rap game". Heck, you could even ask how his "Grandma's Basement" actually inspired him. We were once like the individual who hadn't met Jarren, and had a stack of questions.
Thankfully, the rap gods that watchover the music industry made our request come to life. HF® had the opportunity to sit down with the rising rap superstar to politic, and yes, we wanted to make sure our questions were worth his while. Here we talked inspiration, his start ups, and tips for aspiring artists. Check out this exclusive conversation below.
Of course we know that, up until this point there are a lot of things that you've accomplished.. Grandma's Basement LP, which is an awesome record.. Graduating XXL's Freshman Class of 2014, as well as targeting and connecting with Hip Hop's core audience.. What's next on your list of goals for the remainder of the 2014 year?
Right now, i'm on tour at the moment, doing the Independent Grind tour with Tech 9, Freddie Gibbs, Chrizz Kaliko, Psychward Druggies.. The tour will be wrapping up in late June, and when it does, my main goal will be to focus on my next project... I don't have any details on it at the moment, but I can say - it will be "Timeless" F*&$%n music. I'm still listening and being inspired by the classics like Dr. Dre's "The Chronic", Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle", Ice Cube's "Americas Most Wanted"... I want my new project moving forward to have a timeless feel, that dudes can still jam to 20 years from now. So overall, the goal is to get back in the lab and accomplish this before the year's out.
Can we expect to see a solo tour that's backed off of your work sometime this year? Similar to how Kanye West based his worldwide tour around his album 'Yeezus'?
Last year, I did a tour based around my freshman LP, 'My Grandma's Basement', which ran for about 21 days. This year? I want to hold off on doing a new solo tour until my new project is complete and finished. Then I can line everything up and execute that option. But hell yeah, im looking forward to doing one when this new project is done. Also, I want to incorporate some really unique elements, that will set the new tour off. And speaking of the Yeezus tour? I haven't had the time to check it out, but I hear Kanye is reinventing the modern hip hop performance... So im hoping to bring some ideas to the table inspired by some of the cool things Yeezy gives his fans at his shows.
Ima take a quote from your interview with XXL. You said that "You started rapping young and your s&%t was kinda wack.." With that being said, what was the turning point for you that made your music "distinguishable", while coming up in Hip Hop? Take in mind that at that time, rap music was ran by the "Trill/dirty south" vibe, which is contrary to your style of artistry...
I started rapping at 9 years old (laughs)... Any s*%t a 9 year puts together (by default) would be considered horrible.. Even when I became a teenager, I had some difficulties crafting my sound. Also, it didn't help that the music I was listening to was advanced lyricists like Redman, Can-I-Bus, Rakim, Nas.... At that age, It's like, "how the f*$k can I create something like that? Thats comparable or on the same level as these guys.. Then when rap evolved, it got "dumbed down" (for lack of better words) where anybody could start rapping. And that's where the challenge really kicked in. It wasn't until n*ggas was making jingle music, that I seen that as an advantage, and I brought my true talent out at its full capabilities. I used the inspiration of what I was raised up on, and brought my sword out.. and murdered the s^%t. Then, because of the state the rap game was in, I wasn't wack anymore! I was better than the competition! (laughs) That was the turning point for me, I would say, being honest.
Once you started getting a buzz and making a name for yourself in the rap game, you stuck to being an Independent artist... When you had nods from Majors that wanted to sign you to record deals. What influenced this decision?
La Reid.. No-ID & Don Cannon... Heads at Def Jam.. They all f%&*ed with me and wanted to work more extensively with my artistry. They were all cool dudes in my book. However, I didn't like all of the politics that was involved in the mainstream industry... The people who were interested in signing me had me hanging around, waiting for something to happen. I wouldn't hear back from people... Sliding me back and forth.. At that time in my career, I didn't want to miss any opportunities, not knowing when my window would close. So I made the decision to get up and do some s&%t, instead of playing those waiting games. Alot of industry dudes just wait... and things just seem to never get done.
However, when I met up with Dame (of the Funk Independent Volume label), he was on a completely different vibe. He was strategic and tactful, knowing how to target fanbases and build up followings with the music being made. We were on that same wave... so it just worked out better for me to go independent and move in that direction. His approach was smarter and more efficient. We didn't waste time trying to make hits.... And by the way? What the f%^k is a hit? (laughs) No one knows what a f*%#*ng hit is made of, so I didnt focus on making imaginary hit records... We focused on building the core things, like fan bases, creating quality music, visuals... in comparison to just making "hits".
Lastly... Prior to your musical success, like everyone else pursuing music, you've had a variety of careers.. From being an exterminator to a dental assistant. Now your living out your life's passion, which is music, and being an independent creator. Share some wisdom with similarly hard working citizens walking in your footsteps hoping to live out their dreams as well. Just as you did. Any key tips?
Think smart. Don't listen to the industry dudes encouraging you to quit your 9 to 5 to pursue music. Don't just quit life to pursue music. Don't abandon your responsibilities. Know what you want to do in your career, practice balance in time management and work around your situation. Don't quit when the rough times arrive. Stay around positive people... No, let me add.. Stay around positive AND smart people.. And stay focused on what your trying to accomplish. Also, don't try to put time frames on your success. You never know when your time has arrived.
Loved this interview? Follow Jarren Benton on Twitter:@jarrenbenton
Don't forget to show your love and buy freshman LP, 'My Grandma's Basement' available on iTunes worldwide.