These days it’s hard to be provocative. Look at Kanye West, he’s out there calling himself God, and trying to hit the reset button on race politics, and somehow it’s not enough bite for some critics out there. Jarren Benton either doesn’t care or doesn’t know how desensitized rap listeners have become. While Kanye’s overfed ego makes people question whether Yeezus is truly caustic or winking, Benton demonstrates no such self-awareness on My Grandma’s Basement. Going for broad shock value on nearly every track, he makes you very aware that he wants you to think he’s just bat shit crazy. Real crazy is tormented, relentlessly introspective, and hard to look at, while Benton’s version is just misguided and adolescent. It’s as if the Atlanta rapper is ignorant of the post-Eminem rap landscape, where there is no shock, just embarrassment in hearing a graphic verse about “killin’ a bitch.” Jerron doesn’t seem like the cold-blooded killer he wants everyone to see him as. Instead, My Grandma’s Basement gives way to images of Jarren marauding around in a rented jester’s costume, begging for attention from anyone who’ll give it.
Tongue twisting references to meth, razorblades and cum rags are punctuated by tributes to Adidas shell-toes, PBR, and weed. So, if there’s any real shock value in this album, it gets a severe blunting due to the wildly inconsistent tone throughout. Mercifully, there are a few bangers that are actually worth a listen, and while generic trap beats fill out the majority of Basement, some of the songs are distinct enough to stand out. The album starts off very strong with the paranoid funk of “Razor Blades and Steak Knives, and frankly, sets a bar that the rest of the album never rises to, although “Heart Attack,” which features the aforementioned murder verse, touts a dope beat and some mildly clever lyricism.
Jerron Benton is an inexplicably boisterous kind of rapper, given his real lack of substance, credibility, or self-awareness. He’s just dying for you to admire his crazed antics, and blush from his gross-out references. Likely, My Grandma’s Basement will probably just elicit a few cringes, and is unlikely to truly provoke rap audiences who are by now numb to overblown shock value and gross-out tactics. This is the kind of album that’s so out of touch, that it squelches out most of the legitimate music that actually manages to float to the top of the album.