Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at Jarren Benton's new EP 'Slow Motion Vol. 1,' the first EP from the emcee since he appeared on XXL's "Class of 2014."
Week of 02/06/2015
WHO: Jarren Benton
WHAT: Slow Motion Vol. 1
Jarren Benton can spit fast. This almost goes without saying when you hit the road with Tech N9ne, as Benton did during 2014. But can he make himself a memorable as the headliner on that tour? That may be the challenge going forward for the emcee, who sells himself as the outsider, starting with his signature coonskin cap.
One of the major struggles with his 2013 debut LP, My Grandma's Basement, was a lack of hooks. That sounds like it shouldn't be an issue for an act as talented as Benton, but let's face it: The majority of listeners, at least the album buying community that reads XXL, hardly gives a hoot about verses. They can identify when a performer is flowing hot, but if that sandwich isn't held together by a few slices of hook. That's an issue that continues to bother Benton on Slow Motion. "Hallelujah" comes the closest, certainly the simplest, but it's also a slight rip-off of Rick Ross' "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)," although his verses as well as those from Dizzy Wright and SwizZz are well worth consideration. One of the problems is he's just too smart for his own good: Basing a hook around the word "Atychiphobia" (the fear of failure)? Excellent and absurd.
He finally hits it on the head with the closing track of the EP, "Silence," featuring a melodic contribution from Sareena Dominguez. But ultimately, does Benton want to be the guy bringing in pop stars to deliver a killer chorus, as Rihanna has done for many a hit? Or does he want to stay apart from that? Many have succeeded without it...again, Tech...but Benton might have to hone his songwriting skills before his next LP.