Chris Thomas

Certified Fresh: Jarren Benton – Independent In Thought & Practice


Photo: XXL

HHW: Seguing topics, how much does Atlanta music influence your own?

JB: I love just music. Even though I came up and my main influence was East Coast/West Coast sh*t, I love f*cking south sh*t. I love the energy of it. That’s where I’m from.

You know how certain cities have a sound. Like Troy Ave was saying, when you think of old New York and you hear the griminess, you feel like you’re in New York. It feels like the subway, the projects or pissy hallways. Same with LA, when you hear that California sh*t, that funk sh*t, you think of that cliché shit – 64s, n*ggas shooting, you know? And Atlanta has a sound that says Atlanta. That’s the sound, that heavy 808. We’ve always been like that from the beginning from listening to Kilo Ali, and all the bass and booty shaking music. It always had to be heavy 808, but that sh*t’s just propelled to where it is now, just slowed down thanks to Three 6 Mafia and Lil Jon.

You can talk sh*t about… it might not be the best lyricists on those tracks, but something about the feel and the energy of those beats — I love that sh*t. I’ve made projects with sample-based beats, but what I wanted to do [on My Grandma’s Basement] was make some sh*t that represents where I’m from. I wanted to take the music, and I wanted to still incorporate dope lyricism on it, because I feel a lot of those beat can’t be denied.

Imagine if those were the f*cking beats that Nas or someone like that [rapped on]. That type of feel and that type of sound would get a whole different look. My goal is to take that sh*t, still get love from the A for it, and still please the fans that want to listen to lyrics.

HHW: Does Funk Volume model its movement on the move of previous rap cliques?

JB: I don’t think there’s any particular movement that we just studied. I think it’s just thinking smart man. With the majors – and I’m not saying every major is like that – but my experience major labels has always been, ‘Let’s f*ck with you when you get a song. When you get a hit, then you’ll get the attention you need.”

They all had that common denominator. They never wanted to concentrate on grass roots sh*t – just building something. They want to concentrate on building from something that was always there. But the independent sh*t is like let’s get a fan base. Let’s go after the people that f*ck with us and let’s grow this sh*t from the ground up, versus let’s concentrate on a f*cking song.

The independent sh*t from what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen has always been let’s concentrate on the fans. Let’s concentrate on building something. Let’s concentrate on being on the road doing shows.

HHW: Do you plan on collaborating with any of your fellow XXL Freshman class?

JB: Yeah. I knew Jon Connor before he was on the Freshman list. He’s a cool motherf*cker, and I plan on doing some sh*t with him. Rich Homie Quan was cool as f*ck too. Actually, I would like to work with all them dudes on the cover to be honest with you. But the dudes that I gelled with and I thought were cool, were Jon Connor, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan, Kevin Gates and Troy Ave were cool as a motherf*cker, and Lil Bibby — he was kind of quiet — but was cool. I chopped it up with them dudes the most and I got a good vibe from all of them.

HHW: I’ve read that Outkast is your dream collaboration, but who’s the  artists that fans may not ex

JB: Thom Yorke from Radiohead. I would actually love to work with that motherf*cker. I’m a f*cking Radiohead fiend. That group right there, that’s who I’d love to work with. I don’t know how the f*ck we’d do something together, but I’d think it’d be dope.


“Gimmie The Loot”

“Go Off” ft. SwizZz & Hopsin

“Cadillacs & Chevys”


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