Converge + Hard Drugs + Cupcake & Retarded Holmes = Q&A With Cardboard City Artist Benn Grim

September 30, 2010 by Chris Grosso

alchemy [ˈælkəmɪ]

n pl -mies 1. (Chemistry / Alchemy) the pseudoscientific predecessor of chemistry that sought a method of transmuting base metals into gold, an elixir to prolong life indefinitely, a panacea or universal remedy, and an alkahest or universal solvent.

Ben Grippo (aka Benn Grim) is an Alchemist. Not in the sense of turning base metal into gold, but from being in a very dark, drug addicted place, to a now up and coming hip hop artist. He has no quams about laying out all of his trials and tribulations, often with an excellent mix of humor, and at the same time letting people know he’s not to be fucked with. 

I’ve known Ben for quite some time, and regardless of whatever he was going through, he was always a good hearted dude. I feel free to speak about his substance abuse as I was there too, often times with him as we were in a band together. I’m really happy that Ben took the time to do some Q&A with The Indie Spiritualist as it’s really inspiring for me to see where we both were, compared to where we are now.

The Benn Grim Interview









TIS: I love the Youtube video of you freestyling with Converge. Was that planned or spur of the moment?

BG: Spur of the moment, but it was half a freestyle, half an old verse I never put on a track. It was years ago and I was more than likely high out of my mind, you can tell by the long hair and “stop snitching’ shirt I was wearing. I love those guys and no one will ever do that with them again!

TIS: So we were in a band together for a while, and we were both really into our drugs and what not…now we’re both not into drugs anymore, and still doing the music thing. I’d like for you to talk a bit about the difference of writing/performing sober vs. writing/performing anything but sober.

BG: Don’t get me wrong, if it weren’t for hard drugs, my parents record collection wouldn’t be half as big as it is, but in my case, like, you can say, “yo, I smoked the best weed and wrote this dope song”, but for me, having a level and clear head helps me be more creative than any drug could ever make me.

TIS: Can you tell me about one of your craziest experiences from back in your using days? Not to glorify it, but rather to show people how far you’ve come.

BG: I used to cop dope mostly on Madison or Jefferson, right off park street in the south end of Hartford, I used to always go to the same guy for at least 2 years, his name was cupcake, or cake for short. He had the best shit. I got in pretty good with this guy and I used to pick him up at his house and bring him to the block and what not. He ALWAYS had a gun on him, he had a friend on the block over to him, they reffered to him as “retarded holmes”. One day some one got shot and the cops were all over the place, everyone was not answering phone calls and they were too scared to come out of there houses, so I went straight to cupcakes other house, he got mad that I just showed up but for some odd reason he let me in. they looked me up and down and said, “yo ben, wanna do us a favor, we’ll hit u off if you do.” So I obliged, they gave me a doubled up stop and shop bag and told me to walk directly over to retarded holmes house and give him the bag, don’t look at anyone, don’t talk to anyone. I started out the door and one of them said, “yo ben, put this on under your hoodie” it was a bullet proof vest. Ok guys, whats in the bag I thought to myself, but I knew exactly what it was. I trembled my way to retared holmes house and he was waiting at the door, I walk in, take off the vest, and hand him the bag, countless bundles of heroin, they gave me half of one for transporting a package that could have landed me 20 yrs in jail. Hahahah, but I was a junkie and I was willing to do anything to get high.

TIS: What are you working on currently?

BG: I just wrapped up a compilation CD im calling Benn Grim’s Blah Sides, it’s a collection of mostly older tracks ive never used for anything, Mixed and mastered by my musical life coach F.Sean Martin. Should be pressed in a couple weeks. Im also working on my long awaited “Novocaine Mixtape”, that’s scooting along steadily and will have a lot of special guests, im working on an EP with my Friend ADAM BOMB out of New Orleans, prob gonna be 6 songs or so, and im also working on an EP with producer Sammy Marion out of philly, that will also be 5 or 6 songs. The Mizery Crew, (Timmy Wiggins, Metalheart, and myself) is currently in the studio working on our freshman release as a group, and Timmy Wiggins and Metalheart are working on their prospective solo shit, which is gonna really shake things up!!!

TIS: What influences the lyrical content in most in your songs?

BG: Life, love, regret? Hahahaah, no, im the guy that takes past experiences and makes them real, I talk about shitting on unworthy rappers mostly, ive been told I can tell a pretty good story too. You give me the beat, and your always gonna get something different.

TIS: Who would you like to collaborate with on future projects, and are you going to make it happen?

BG: Id love to do a track with Aesop Rock, hes my buddy, so that’s not a far stretch, but as for dudes I dont know? I wanna do a track where Brandon Flowers from the killers sings the hook, or get on a beat that The XX made. That would be epic!

TIS: Who’s killing it in the underground right now (hip hop, hardcore, whoever)?

Yak Ballz

BG: HMMMM as for underground cats? Fuck! Im going with my man! The one and only, YAK BALLZ!!! Nothing cooler than a bunch of kids chanting your name before you come out on stage, his fans love him, (and so do i) and it shows. As far as new and up and coming hardcore? Hate Your Guts, cruel hand, black breath, backtrack, and bad seed, all dope hc bands doing theur thing now.

TIS: Who’s specifically not killing it in the underground right now (let’s start a beef)?

BG: hahahaha, hes not even underground anymore, but id say WALE, hes a homophobe with a shitty name, chill WHALE!!! hahaha

TIS: What’s new with Carboard City?

BG: Every body is working on their respective shit, but all I gotta say, watch out for that new Glassjaw album, ive already heard a few unreleased tracks and im blown away.

TIS: I’m a bit out of the loop but was wondering if the Vast Aire/Cage/El-P beef was squashed yet?

BG:  hmmm, I didn’t even know there was a beef? hahaha

TIS: How did Shia LaBeouf hook up with Carboard City?

BG: Shia met cage a couple years back, the rest is history.

TIS: Any news on the movie about Cage that Shia wants to do?

BG: They are looking for a director is the last news I heard. I cant wait for that shit.

TIS: Last Shia question, was it epic for you guys to see him throw up the Cardboard City sign at the end of hosting Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago?

BG: it gave me the chills and still does, makes me feel good to be a part of something so awesome, EVERYBODY go see the new Wall Street movie, my man kills it with Michael Douglas!!! hahahaah

TIS: Ok, time for some obligatory shout outs…go ahead.

BG: my cardboard city fam, Daryl palumbo, Fsean martin, my mizery crew, all my friends in NYC, Miami, San fran you know who you are, my brother, Chauncey, the Hartford party starters union, corey scoolidge, and everybody at brass city tattoo.

TIS: Anything in closing?

BG: surround yourself with good and exciting people, and nothing but good and exciting things will happen to you.

As Featured On EzineArticles

Benn Grim on Myspace:

FREE DOWNLOAD of Benn Grimm’s “The Nutmeg E.P.”:…/benn-grim-the-nutmeg-ep-free-download.php

Cardboard City Myspace:

If you like this, you may like this: Horror Q&A with Jeff Caxide of Isis!

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.