Bender is an over-achiever. As far as we can tell, he’s the best battle-rapping artist, as well as the most artistic battle rapper. His fierce aggression and densely-structed writing have made him a fan-favourite in KOTD and netted him invites to Flip Top, Don’t Flop and iBattle. The former KOTD champion won the league’s official “Performance of the Year” awards in both 2010 and 2012. He makes music as part of Flight Distance, whose Bad Information album is arguably the best rap record to ever come out of Ottawa. We also have it on good authority he’d destroy us in The Last of Us multi-player.
Bender was gracious enough to welcome T.O. Battle Blog into his Ottawa home/art studio to talk about his paintings, his upcoming match against long-time rival Dirt and his thoughts on KOTD’s World Domination 4 event.
What have you been up to outside of battle rap lately?
I used to paint a lot when I was younger and I stopped for years. I started again less than a year ago and threw some online so that’s what I’m doing now. I’m making enough money that I quit my job and am just painting full time.
Wow, that’s amazing.
Yeah and summer’s slow. The busy season is leading up to Christmas.
Who’s buying them?
I think I built up a good fan-base from battling, so a lot of the people that watch the battles buy the art. I figure I’ll strike while the iron is hot, you know? But then I have some gallery shows too. It’s a whole different world than the music world. I’m starting to network with other artists. So far, I’m off to a good start.
I heard you were doing a painting a day at one point.
Yeah, I was. I slowed down. It’s tough for me to do art and music at the same time. I obsess about things, so if I’m painting I obsess over it. Now I’m back in battle mode. I just finished writing my Dirt bars this morning.
Let’s talk about that. Dirt’s a guy who’s been calling you out from south of the border for a long time and didn’t really have a home league to host you in.
Yeah, that’s the thing. He can’t get into Canada. There’s always been rumours about us. Like, I would hear that I was battling him. He sent me a message once and was like “Uh, did you hear that we’re battling in New York City?” And I was like: “No, I didn’t know that.”
It’s a long time coming. Dirt’s dope and he has a similar writing style to me. And I know the fans have been wanting to see it for years. It wasn’t always a great career move for me, but iBattle stepped up and they put the money up for it. Plus, I think it’s gonna be a classic.
Is there bad blood? He was calling you a pussy on the forums for a while.
Sure, anything to get me to battle him, you know. I’m not really a huge shit-talker before the battles. But yeah, he got his wish so I’ll go down there and handle business. I think it’s my best material since the Arcane battle, so I’m pretty happy with it.
What’s your strategy?
Well, people categorize us as multi rappers. At least one of my rounds will cater to that. I’m gonna show him I’m the king of that shit.
Your presence was lacking from World Domination 4. I heard they were trying to get you and Shotty Horroh sorted out for it?
Yeah, that was a setup they were trying to make work. Shotty’s the homie. I stayed with him when I went out to England. Not that I have anything against battling friends. Protege and I know each other, Pesci, even Syd. I’ve joked around with him online. I wanted something that would be more like a grudge match to make me hungry again, like I was for the Arcane battle. Dirt’s perfect for that.
I wasn’t feeling the Shotty offer and iBattle approached me in the winter so I signed the contract then. Traditionally, World Domination is at the start of August but as it happened here, it was only about three weeks away from my battle so I wanted to just focus on Dirt and didn’t want to come off a battle and then only have three weeks to prepare for my next one.
Have you watched the World Domination footage yet?
Quite a bit of it, yeah.
What were you thoughts?
It was great. It looked like the best event King of the Dot has thrown. It solidified them as world-class even more than they were before.
Yeah, I’ve been going to live events since you spat your first “Sorry Player” scheme against Miracle and this was unlike anything I’ve seen them do, both in terms of the quality of the event and the quality of the battles.
As a performer, I don’t think I would like the stage. I like being in the ring. But I can see from a fan’s perspective why it would be better, when the whole venue can see everything.
Have you watched Pesci/Daylyt?
I saw that, yes.
Um, I don’t know what to say about it. It was a good battle. They both came with it. I think it was maybe Pesci’s best performance and bars. Day kind of lit a match under him and made Pesci spit more aggressively. Day had dope shit too. He’s probably the most entertaining battler out there. You don’t know what you’re gonna get from him. He’s gone from being relatively unknown even a year ago to being one of the most talked about battlers in the world right now.
He’s getting those Lux views for a fraction of the price.
Yeah, for sure.
Would you battle Daylyt?
I think I only got a few more battles in me and he’s not on the list.
Who is on the list?
I’d like to get it in with Big T. I’d like to go back to the U.K. at some point. I think me and Unanymous or Tony D would be good.
Are you booked for anything after Dirt?
No, I think I might hold off because it’s my busy season for painting. Maybe I’ll set something up for Blackout. By that time it’ll be like a year and a half since I’ve battled in Canada so I’d like to be on that card.
When’s the solo album coming?
Soon, it’s like 95 per cent done.
If people want to buy a painting from you how does it work?
Bender vs Dirt happens on iBattle in Connecticut on Sept. 14, 2013. Follow them on Twitter for updates on the footage.
Shoutout to Bender for taking the time to meet with us. You can listen to his music and watch his battles here.