Manitoba·MUSIC

Hip hop artist driven to succeed on stage

Chris Bennett was as committed to football as he was to hip hop music growing up, even making it as far as the Canada Cup.

Chris Bennett performs as part of New Music Wednesdays at Ozzy's on April 2 at 8:30

Chris Bennett hosted and headlined his first sold-out show at age 17.

Chris Bennett is unstoppable in his musical ambition. 

The young rapper takes the stage at Ozzy's on April 2 as part of New Music Wednesdays presented by Manitoba Music. On the first Wednesday of every month, the event focuses on Manitoba artists.

'It's a huge industry and I've just been working every day as hard as possible, trying to achieve that goal and become the best I can be.- Chris Bennett

Bennett says he remembers from the age of 14 he and his friends getting into all aspects of hip hop, including beat boxing, free styling and break dancing.

But at the same time he was as committed to football as he was to hip hop, even making it as far as the Canada Cup. It was a serious sports injury that sealed his fate as a musician. After his injury, he threw all of his energy into music and even claims to be rather driven.

"I've always been a person that, when I have a goal and set my sights on something, I have a winner's mentality. I want to be number one at whatever I do," he said.​

"It's a huge industry and I've just been working every day as hard as possible, trying to achieve that goal and become the best I can be."

At the tender age of 17, Bennett had the gumption to put on his own show, the first show he ever hosted and headlined. He and a friend rented the equipment, got tickets printed and hired other artists. The concert was a sell-out.

"It was pretty crazy," he said. "I've always been someone who, if it's not there, will set it up and make it happen. I knew we could bring people out. Big risks mean big rewards."

Bennett, now 21, is known for his charismatic performances and his ability to really connect with audiences.

"I try to just be as real as possible. Even my music content relates to my real life. I really like to just talk, to just be as real as possible.

"And I also like being as hype as possible, as live as possible, really try to get the crowd involved. Because at the end of the day, the energy that I receive is what I'm going to be putting back out. It's like it's both parties have to be playing."
Millennial Cartel released first EP, Nova Initium (Darian Taylor)

Bennett is currently part of the Millennial Cartel, a collective of individuals that pool their talents in media, blogging, fashion, production and rapping. In February they released their first EP, Nova Initium, which Bennett also engineered. 

He's leased a space which he turned into a studio to record other artists, "just trying to keep the scene going," he said.

Bennett grew up in a supportive musical household. It was his young mother who introduced him to music and dance, and particularly to reggae music from Jamaica, where the family is originally from, and she remains one of his biggest fans.

"She's definitely a driving force in why I'm really trying to succeed." 

Bennett says he is now also exploring his Aboriginal side.

It's an evening of hip hop at Ozzy's, 160 Osborne St. South on April 2 as part of Manitoba Music's New Music Wednesdays. Chris Bennett will be followed by M-Kaps and Youngtilidie. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.

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