Chaps: Introduce yourself, crew, affiliations, and discography.
Mindbender: The name’s Bender. Mindbender. I’m down with the Nextraterrestrials, a cross Canada crew of artists, producers, dancers, drug addicts, and dreamers. I’ve been a part of the SBU albums “First Great Pyramid” and “Mental Reverse/Spiritual Rebirth,” and I have made a few projects myself, including “Mindbender In Another Universe,” “Fantasyland Before Time,” and “Beautiful Mutant.” I have been on hundreds of songs, but you gotta find them for yourself, there’s too many to list. I feel like that old American President sometimes, like “I have not yet begun to rhyme.”
You have just released the double CD “Beautiful Mutant.” Why did you feel the need to release it as double album and not two separate releases?
Because at the time, I was rushing to be the first solo Toronto emcee to release a double album. There was one other double album from Toronto to my knowledge, but it was a compilation by the group GCP. But now that it’s out, I’m so beyond what I was doing then. It’s funny to listen back to it, and it’s even more funny to hear people bug out over this project because it was being written in 2002 while we were releasing “Fantasyland,” and I already knew that album would be too much for some people. “Beautiful Mutant” was done in early 2003 and wasn’t manufactured for public consumption until May 2004, and it still sounds good and even futuristic, some of it. It’s funny how music works. I say all that to say that the main reason I did “Beautiful Mutant” was to put my name in the category of all the great emcees who have double albums, like Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, and Nasty Nas to name a few. To do a cohesive, complete, no-filler, historic double LP is something I believe all the greatest of all time emcees need to do, but Big L and Big Pun didn’t have the time to make them.
Does the Mutant disc represent one side of the man known as Mindbender and does the Beautiful side represent the other side? If so, what do they say about Mindbender?
They both represent me. The idea was for people to begin realizing they contain both beauty and ugliness inside them and their actions, that people are made of diverse elements, and people should remain aware of this fact. Also, “Beautiful Mutant” refers to how beauty is in the eye of the witness. How there is a woman in the world that only you see the beauty in, some people see a witch with warts and green skin but you see a super model with a cocoa butter complexion and flawless features that make your heart beat faster. Everyone is a beautiful mutant. Human beings are the most amazing creatures. They are all slightly different and more unique than snowflakes. One day we are full of beautiful love and helpful care, and then we can be brutally selfish and manipulative mutants for years in a row. That’s life, especially my life.
You have been in hip hop for a long time. How has it changed over the years?
I can’t describe it all here. I am not aware of a subculture that undergoes as much rapid and mind-blowing change as hip hop music and culture, and as the years go on this culture evolves and mutates and splinters off more and more every day, until it’s all just one huge confusing mess of beats and rhymes and capitalist products from a million different places. Hip hop changes like every week. Sometimes a few times each week. The regions change, the power players change, the trends change, the vocab changes, the X factor changes, the lucrative hit formula changes, the followers and leaders change… hip hop changes so much that it’s just comedy to watch now. You just have to be you, and change at your own pace. One thing that drastically changed for the worst, in my humble opinion, is that the new kids just getting into hip hop nowadays care less and less about what hip hop came before them. In the early 90’s, heads were respectful of the late 80’s emcees still in the game. Ask a kid from 2000 who Mic Geronimo was, he not only has no clue, he doesn’t even care, and thinks he’s cool and better off not knowing his hip hop history. Makes me wanna puke. I want to change it where new people in hip hop don’t get full respect from the vets until they do the fucking knowledge on the sacrifices and songs that Kool G Rap made, Big Daddy Kane made, Compton’s Most Wanted made, 2 Live Crew made, MC Lyte made, Public Enemy made, Geto Boys made… so many forgotten legends, it’s tragic. Rock music doesn’t forget as easily, plus they have oldies rock stations that play Grateful Dead and The Doors all day. Maybe it’s all the weed hip hoppers smoke, ha ha! Redman and Cypress Hill, your influence has fucked up the game forever! I remember the days where weed and alcohol weren’t so prevalent to an emcee’s image and their lyrics. Redman ruined my childhood as much as he saved it, ha ha!
How would you describe the new album to someone who is not familiar with your previous work and would your description vary if the person had only heard SBU?
It’s creative hip hop, period. It’s not too far out, and it’s not too traditional. Each song is its own journey and has its own meaning and purpose. There is not a single second of filler or nonsense, and it’s all new school originality. The music is unique and thoughtful enough for people to listen to it multiple times and get new thoughts and vibes each time, but not too far out there where they can’t take any personal relations or emotions from it, which I’ve been known to do sometimes. This is balanced, genius-like insanity. Listen to it all and then debate with me if you feel otherwise. I think this is some timeless dopeness.
You are not a typical Toronto emcee. How has living in Toronto helped or hindered your career?
Hurt. Well, no, I suppose I have been the beneficiary of some wonderful blessings in my life from living in Toronto that I wouldn’t get living anywhere else in Canada. But if you mean money, power and respect, then living in Toronto has not helped me get up, get out, get something substantial, and then go worldwide. I really should take some of the responsibility for that, like it could be I need to be more motivated and driven since I’m doing something that no one else has ever done in this country, so I must blaze my own trail and break down new doors, but Toronto is not very kind to it’s own homegrown music innovators. If I lived in Montreal and could do the Kid Koala thing or come from Halifax and be a wicked and weird rapper like Buck 65, then I could enjoy this Mindbender niche more, and not mind living in Canada where the people are so timid and reserved. But living in Toronto is not easy, it’s expensive, there’s lots of politics in the scene, and it has NOT progressed as fast or as far as it could, and should. It’s a peaceful war going on outside, no man is safe from, you can run but you can’t hide forever.
What are your short and long term goals, in hip hop and life?
Become a rich revolutionary. Expose the corruption inside capitalism and Christianity and introduce new options of systems for the masses. Teach everyone to discover their inner Godlike powers before they “die.” Do tours around the world, record videos, make songs with my favorite emcees and producers and hip hop heads. Make a lot of love to a lot of beautiful women, and be honest with all of them about each other because I don’t really believe in monogamy or marriage. I also want to make the perfect hip hop album in the new millennium, if it ever could be made, ha ha!
What needs to happen in order for you to meet those goals?
I need more money, power, respect! I need friends in high places. I need visionaries with me on my team. I need focus like Jay-Z. I need inspiration and motivation. I need no opposition or resistance to my movements. I need to destroy my own oppressive inner demons to even take the first step toward any of this, though.
A new SBU album is right around the corner. What can people expect with that release?
Something different and more powerful than anything out there now. Some crazy intense shit that is politically, emotionally, spiritually, lyrically, intellectually and harmonically more impressive than 95% of the hip hop you can buy today. This shit is explosive. You will either love it with your heart or hate it with your head, but it’s some sick shit. Long time fans will not be disappointed in waiting eight years! We are on all the songs together, for the first time ever. Eighteen tracks of Supreme Being Unit madness. Believe me, you are not ready and will never be ready. I’m not even ready, but it’s coming anyway.
What do you think about the current state of hip hop in Canada?
This is the next realm of hip hop to blow up on the planet, mark my words… we’re the next Chicago, the next Detroit, the next Atlanta even, but it’s not going to happen overnight, that’s for damn sure. It’s been over ten years since Maestro came out, and Canadian industry has taken only a few more steps forward as it has backwards. It’s heartbreakingly, amazingly slow and fucked up. Things don’t evolve as fast as I think they should, mainly on the industry level. Artists and fans are up on the new technology and the new information sources and the new options we have as consumers. We know what time it is. The labels don’t have a clue, they are still using a sundial, while we got psychic digital time code watches, ha ha. But overall it’s cool and I like the good things we have access to, but at the same time there is some twisted politics that make it hard to make the most of everything we have available to us. Vancouver’s problems and positives are way different than Edmonton’s, Calgary’s, Winnipeg’s, Ottawa’s, Montreal’s, Halifax’s and Toronto’s. No two cities have similar infrastructures or industries and they are so far apart geographically and business wise that I don’t even know how people make sense of it all. It’s got so much potential, but it’s still five years away from utilizing even half of its talent potential. I know way too many dope emcees who have no chance of making a living or a career in Canada and it’s pathetic. Should they move to America? Maybe! Sad but true. Fuck this nationalism shit. It’s about feeding your belly and having a roof over your head, much less moving forward in your career and not wasting your life waiting for your peers and possible business partners to fuck up your progress in every possible way. I’d rather someone be happy doing their dream in New York than them being slept on, broke and bitter in Toronto. I don’t know how long I can stay here until I take my own advice. Canada is okay though. At least we still love hip hop culture itself and people do things for the love occasionally. It’s not the same in America at all. At least Canadians still do things for the love of the art form, that’s a rare thing in America. Cash rules everything around them and their hip hop these days, and I don’t say this to encourage a brain drain, and I love Canada twice as much now that George W. Bush got “reelected,” but it’s fly or die, sink or swim: which one shall I choose?
Who do you think is really brining it in Canada?
There’s lots and I know so many people, some will get mad that I didn’t mention them. But let’s see, there’s so many I know that I like. I like LBA Crew in Edmonton, Conspiracy (Nextra!!!) and Max Prime are bringing dopeness. I dig Frek Sho’s music, I like Empire Crew, TSD, Tara Chase, Theo 3, Fatski, Smoke Stack, Slangston Hughes and Drastik Measurez, Rikoshay, my homegirl Eternia who’s in Nextra, like my man Stay, Boz, Kelron, Ndidi Cascade, Seo Lun, and my peoples all over the place. I like lots of cats, as I think, I remember more that I dig, like this sick emcee called Knamelis (pronounced Nameless), Sunny D, Dope Poets Society, Noah 23, The Goods, The motherfuckin Collapsyllables and Transit, Soliva Spit Society, Poor Man Militia, Symbolik Music Crew, Bishop, The Oddities, K-Naan. There are so many heads that I know that are dope, that are getting slept on like crazy. If I was a greedy A&R I would be a fucking millionaire by now, laughing at the labels, but I can’t exploit talent like that. It’s not in my heart. But still, there’s LOTS of undiscovered dopeness up here, to any American label cat who might be reading this, your Canadian subsidiary is NOT doing its job! Come scoop up the diamonds in the rough, they are everywhere I look and listen!
Do you think hip hop is better now or when you were a fan? Why?
It was better when I was a fan, but I didn’t have the benefits and access that I have now. I was more happy back in the day, but I was so naive, and didn’t know how real shit is. Hip hop now has lost lots of its internal love and the majority of industry people involved nowadays only want money from rap. It’s disgusting. But back then, lots of people couldn’t live off the money received from making rap music. Nowadays, people are stupid rich off it, so I can’t hate that either. The Cash Money Millionaires bought their whole project that they came from. I love hearing shit like that. That’s hip hop, fuck the hate. If you hate their music, you sell over 100,000 units independently in your own city/state/province, so Universal can approach you and give you a $150 million dollar check to sign, so you can get fat, dis your haters, and make hustler anthem music for the rest of your life! I want to make revolutionary action rap lucrative for me and my investors! If I can make that niche market today, then I’m happier today! There are so many more reasons why though. I could go on for days, but I won’t. I’ll just say I love the fact that rap isn’t over by now, and move into its insane future with joy and curiosity. It’s dangerous to walk forward while looking backwards.
What is Mindbender doing when he is not creating lyrical masterpieces?
Smoking weed, admiring women or having passionate sex with my girlfriend when we are not discussing the world, society, the future of now, religion, politics, the economy, race thoughts or thoughts on various cultures on earth. Or I am on the internet talking mad shit and spreading my hip hop thoughts to a bunch of fucked up motherfuckers who are slightly less insane and screwed up than me, ha ha! I’m on the internet a lot, absorbing the infinite information and rumors and lies and half-truths and timeless wisdom available. I also work at a food bank sometimes, and I explore Toronto for fun. I know my hood blindfolded. Oh, I read a lot of books, like four at a time, and I draw and record myself when I find the time. I try to live a simple life, and I want to quit drinking and smoking weed so much. This career is getting serious. All my idols stopped smoking weed, so I figure to get where they are I should follow their footsteps. Ghostface, Eminem, Snoop (he was clean and sober for a while there), Xzibit, Nas even said in a song “I’m smoking less,” so I want to just make my life a work of art that expands its colorfulness every day.
If you could assemble a hip hop team with yourself as the Captain who would be in your starting line up and why?
Man, that’s a fucked up question. There are so many variables. Underground independents? Major label stars? Basketball, hockey or football team? I guess Captain refers to the good ol’ hockey game, right? Okay… today this is what it would be, it would be different tomorrow, and this is by no means definitive (no pun intended!) El-Producto, RZA, Nasty Nas, Cannibal Ox, MF Doom, and Mindbender! We will rule the world! And the 5 on my bench, is Crooked I, Canibus, Royce 5’9″ and Blackstar (Talib Kweli and Mos Def). Word up!
Who would you like to work with in the future?
Same cats I listed above, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Canibus, Redman, Saukrates, Marvel, Tara Chase, Ras Kass, Jay-Z, Twista, Nature, Common Sense, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, The Roots, Leaders of the New School (I would reunite them!) Hieroglyphics, and De La Soul, Special Ed, AZ, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Kanye West… so many more… and to finish it off, I’d bite the heads off 3 puppies to make classic material with The Wu-Tang Clan. The day after I make a song with Nasty Nas, I might fly off the planet because I’m done my work here, but if I get to record magic music with Stevie Wonder it’s all over and I quit music. I would just listen to that every day and re-live the dream until they put me in a mental hospital. I would stay if that was the music they played.
Do you have any last words or shouts?
Shoutout to everyone in Canada building the unseen and unknown future of our little country. We have a long way to go, before we can stand on top of something we all can be proud of. America is so far ahead of us it looks just bizarre to compare, but we all really have a lot to do. We need more good managers, angel investors, booking agents, publicists, independent distributors, radio stations, magazines, fan-zines, websites, and more innovators! Canadians have so much freedom, Canada has so much un manifested potential, that it’s just tragic to sit here and watch my man Marvel not be able to live off his dope music. He was on “Hate Runs Deep” with Saukrates, for fuck sakes! Canada needs to learn to love their pioneers, and not let them fall off into poverty and obscurity. There is so much shit to still do around here but I still have faith for our future! If it’s not someone else who builds this country up to finally exist on the next level, it’s going to be myself, Adhimusic Mindbender Supreme. Check me daily on supremebeingunit.com and keep your mind open while you keep your head up. Pray for the children, and thanks to www.ugsmag.com for the support over the years, you cats have always been down with Supreme Being Unit and The Nextraterrestrials! Practice love.