Once upon a time, Jarren Benton wasn’t as suave and authoritative as he is on his recently released project “The Mink Coat Killa LP.”
Back in the day, he was a cut-up, a wiseacre, an unfiltered, unpredictable, mischievous MC, in the vein of his idols Eminem and Redman. This was exemplified on such mixtapes as “Huffing Glue with Hasselhoff” in 2011 and “Freebasing with Kevin Bacon” in 2012.
“As an MC, I always started out on some serious (expletive),” says Benton, 35, calling from Dallas. “And when I started doing the ‘Freebasing with Kevin Bacon’ and ‘Huffing Glue with Hasselhoff’ projects, that was me taking a break from being a serious MC, just to do some crazy (expletive).”
Even though those projects got the Atlanta-born-and-based Benton a lot of attention, he realized he couldn’t act like that forever.
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“I’m just one of those artists that kinda get bored with (expletive) quickly,” he says. “I couldn’t continue doing, like, skits and (expletive) like that, man, because I’m not there anymore. I’m not in that place.”
Benton started transitioning from hip-hop cutup to straight-faced MC when he began working on the “Slow Motion” series, starting with an EP in 2015 and eventually a full-fledged album in 2016, the first album released on his own label, Benton Enterprises.
“I didn’t want to make a transition to where it was, like, immediate,” he says. “So, I kind of did it slowly.”
He will perform at The Pinhook in Durham Thursday, Aug. 17.
“Mink Coat Killa” marks the third installment in the series. For this album, Benton wanted to take it back to the good ol’ days, when MCs spit hardcore rhymes over the funkiest of samples.
“It was gonna be an album dedicated to the Wu-Tang Clan,” he says. This explains why the album starts off with a redo of the Wu’s classic “C.R.E.A.M.,” aptly titled “C.R.E.A.M. ’17.”
“Originally, I was gonna take the original samples – like, certain Wu-Tang songs that were popular,” he said. “I was gonna take the original samples where they sampled it from and put my own twist on it. From doing it, it started kinda sounding more like an original project, man. ... So, the Mink Coat Killa is sort of my honorary Wu-Tang name I gave myself.”
Who: Jarren Benton, with OC from NC and Chyna
9 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Pinhook, 117 W. Main St., Durham
Details: 984-244-7243; thepinhook.com