The rap game is a facade in most cases. Through the lights, cameras, and action, glamour, glitters and gold, most rappers aren’t flourishing nearly as much as their Instagram pages show. Meanwhile, there’s a sect of MCs pegged “underground” — a group major label rappers often scoff at, despite once being underground themselves — that have circumvented the major label sphere in favor of true liberation.
The indie process, though a lot more difficult, can amount to massive pay days, and more importantly devoted fans who will support whenever given a chance. Tech N9ne’s Strange Music is probably the current rubric of success on this level, but there’s a Los Angeles-based collective called Funk Volume that are moving the needle in their own way. For starters, they’ve scored three XXL Freshman in consecutive years. While Hopsin started the trend and Dizzy Wright continued it, we’ll be focusing on Jarren Benton, a Atlanta MC who’s acclaim has been long overdue.
Many scratched their heads when they spotted the lyricist with the fur hat sitting among more recognizable spitters. But we’d contend that you’re looking for music in the wrong places. Benton’s YouTube views equal well into the millions and he’s coming off of a 72-stop tour, which is a feat in itself.
Allow us to enlighten you on the charismatic Jarren Benton below.
Who: Jarren Benton, 31, is a well-seasoned MC whose story is as unique as his rhyming ability. Hailing from Atlanta, he grew up with hometown heroes like Outkast, Goodie Mob, and Kilo Ali in his backyard, but he also took a liking to East and West Coast artists, a fact that would later mold his own style. Benton’s had major label situations with the likes of Def Jam and others, but he eventually separated himself from the corporate structure in favor of the indie circuit. Though he calls the process “a grind,” the scoreboard and the success of his 2013 studio album, My Grandma’s Basement, says he’s winning.
Credentials: It’s been a constant progression for Benton, who first impacted in 2009 with The Beatgods Present… Jarren Benton: The Mixtape. His affinity for wordplay and eccentricities on wax were clear from the beginning, but he’d only get better with 2011’s Huffing Glue with Hasselhoff and his 2012 breakout project Freebasing with Kevin Bacon. The latter gave him greater prominence among Hip-Hop fans, and took his YouTube presence to astounding levels. Next came the aforementioned album and mound of touring.
Fun Fact: Was selected to tour on Tech N9ne’s “Independent Grind” tour alongside Freddie Gibbs, Krizz Kaliko, and more.