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One Monticello Life – Andrew Bentz

March 26th, 2012 by

– “I went down to Grand Central Station and got pizza for me and DiGiovanni, and we went to the elevator. I was dressed in my urban attire… and these two suits walked up and they looked at us and then backed out and left. It was weird because you could tell they were scared of us because of what we were wearing. I think they thought I was going to rob them. “ – Andrew (LilDru) Bentz

Andrew Bentz, son of Leslie McKiever and Bubba Bentz, was born during a blizzard in Roswell, New Mexico in January of 1982.

“Mom worked there are as a Petroleum Geologist, she got her Science degree at UAM, and Dad worked in the oil fields.”

“I went to Elementary school in Artesia, New Mexico. The school was built entirely underground as a bomb shelter due to the Cold War. Looking back it was really weird, but it didn’t seem odd at the time because it was the first school I had ever gone to. There were no windows and you had to walk downstairs to just get inside. It was right across the field from our house so I could walk to school every day.”

When Andrew was in the 4th grade his family moved to Arkansas. He attended school at the original MES and stayed in the Monticello School District until graduation except for his 10th grade year, which he spent in Sheridan when he lived with his Dad.

Moving from New Mexico to Arkansas presented one main challenge for Andrew as a child. “The accents were pretty hard to adjust to. The population there was 70% Hispanic so coming here was very different.”

As he hit his teen years, “My first job was at McKiever Pharmacy working for my grandfather, W.J. That lasted about 2 weeks. I couldn’t have been any older than 15 or so. He wanted me to vacuum like four times a day… he wanted me doing something all the time since I was being paid to work. So I just stopped showing up. I got paid minimum wage and I ended up only working like an hour an afternoon, so I think I made like $50 over those weeks.”

“In 10th grade I worked at McDonald’s in Bryant, Arkansas. When I started school in Sheridan I worked at both McDonald’s in Bryant, and Conoco in Sheridan for the majority of the first semester. I really enjoyed my bosses at Conoco. When I returned to Monticello I worked at Piggly Wiggly, Sav-A-Lot, and Hardee’s. My senior year in High School I started working at Drew County Developmental Disability and have worked there for the past 12 years providing home health care.”

While a lot of Andrew’s life may seem similar to how many live, he has definitely had a lot of unique experiences due to his love of music.

“I think rap music as a whole has more raw emotion than other music.”

“I got into rap music when I was 13. I liked it… so I did it. Others gravitated to me because of it.” “Mom didn’t seem to mind it too much, but Dad absolutely hated it. I drew a picture of TuPac and put it on my wall when I lived with him and Dad said, “We’re not having any pictures of Two-Tone on the wall.”

One of the most nerve wrecking times Andrew can recall with his rapping career was at an event in Louisiana when he did an impromptu performance.

“I was in Bastrop, Louisiana, at the baseball field. I went just to take pictures of ESG (rapper) and he put me on the spot. I don’t know that I’ve ever had an adrenaline rush that made my whole body cramp before… but I did then. It was 8-Mile… really it was.”

From a simple love of music, to a hobby, to a full-fledged career, Andrew (LilDru) Bentz began finding success in the rap community.

“I helped form Maple Street Crew with Michael Berry Jr., which went from being a significant hobby to relatively successful future musical endeavors. I then helped form another local music group, A.R. Boss Hoggs, with local entrepreneur Robert “Ra Ra” Smith, who now owns Rob’s Rims and Tires. Many other locals were involved in those two things…. Reggie Binns, Chris Spencer, Redd Lindsey, Jeffery Trotter, Cheyenne Cherry, Roxanne Dodson, Jonathon “YJ” Joiner, and Marcus “EastWood” Woodard. Later I worked very closely to Texas renowned DJ Yellaboy and Bnard Gambrell to help start Street Pharmacy in Houston, Texas. Mistah Tommy and Synai were with Street Pharmacy when it started, but they aren’t anymore.”

“Together we worked with several Grammy award winning, and Platinum recording artists such as Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Pitbull, Slim Thug, Stephanie Christine, formerly known as Chyna Whyte, DSR, and Chalie Boy.”

“Paul Wall showed up to do a show at PJ’s in Pine Bluff and only like 50 people showed up. That was right before he signed on with Warner Brothers. “

Being white in the rap community can make it difficult to find your place or even be given a chance, especially with established artists like those he has been able to work with. Bentz had a unique way of getting their attention.

“How I got their respect was I took one of my local CD’s and autographed it and mailed it to them. I’m sure when they got them they were wondering who I thought I was, and thankfully, they decided they wanted to see what I was all about.”

LilDru’s music career allowed him to travel to several places such as Houston, Galveston, and Dallas, but he said that no place affected him quite like New York.

“I did a song for Professional Gamer, Tom “T Squared” Taylor. I had the privilege of heading to M.L.G. head offices in down town Manhattan, New York for a business meeting courtesy of the awesome C.E.O. and Co-Founder of Major League Gaming, Sundance DiGiovanni. I’ve never been anywhere that made me feel like a small ant like New York did. I was at the tournament that first aired on U.S.A. Networks on Saturday mornings, which has been on numerous other networks since then. I have also been featured in several nationally distributed magazines due to my musical endeavors, like the New York Times, Stuff Magazine, The Source Magazine, and Murder Dog Magazine.”

“I went down to Grand Central Station and got pizza for me and DiGiovanni, and we went to the elevator. I was dressed in my urban attire… and these two suits walked up and they looked at us and then backed out and left. It was weird because you could tell they were scared of us because of what we were wearing. I think they thought I was going to rob them. It really blew my mind.”

Another hobby led him to his success in New York.

“Video games have always been a big part of my life, which is how I got in with those people in New York. I like action, shooting games and role playing games.”

As he was making his way in the rap world, he found another artistic talent he could utilize in his career.

“Paul Wall got me started doing molds for “grills.” I did that for about two years. I didn’t really make any money off of them. I still have people that ask me to do them… I just tell them, “I haven’t done any in five years!”

Eventually, the financial aspect of the music industry wasn’t as appealing to LilDru as it once was, and he decided that he had done enough traveling and spent enough time in front of fans. He stopped making music professionally, but people that knew him as a rapper then, still see him as one today.

“People still ask, “Hey can I get some studio time?” I laugh… “What studio?””

“I much prefer my life now. I mean, I miss the art part of it. I don’t miss the crowds or any of that. The extra money was nice.”

One art form Andrew still practices today that he took away from his time in the music industry is photography.

“I got into photography because I was taking pictures of people for album covers. I dabble in the hobby of freelance photography and Camera Art. I share my works with the community through LD Media on Facebook which you can find at http://www.facebook.com/ldmedia870.”

Today Andrew Bentz is a family man. He is engaged to fiancé and girlfriend of 12 years, Karonica Franklin.

“We just had our 12 year anniversary on February 4th. She’s really introverted and shy. When I met her I was 18, and she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I worked at Hardy’s. I worked with her brother’s girlfriend and he introduced us. I don’t think she thought I had much to offer, but I was persistent. I kept coming around and eventually she gave me a shot.”

Andrew and Karonica have two children. … “Two year old Andrew Jaxon Bentz, but we call him “A.J.” and 21 year old future step son Syntorio “Tory” Franklin, who’s graced my life since he was 9 years old.” 

Andrew said two year old A.J. is a great kid.  “He’s got his daddy’s personality with his mamma’s temperament. For the most part he’s relaxed and minds really well. He knows his entire alphabet, his colors, even indigo and colors like that, and he can almost count to twenty. He’s really smart.”

Bentz said he cannot wait until he is Tory’s official stepfather. “He’s always been such a great kid. He is truly special to me.”

From a rapper that makes molds for grills, to family and career man, Andrew Bentz has led a very unique life. MLive is honored to have had the opportunity to sit down and interview such an interesting man, and see a glimpse into his life.

Choose another article

Newer article: DTF, MPD, Parole/Probation Make Drug Bust Near Park

Older article: At The Museum – Homemade Nails

5 Responses to “One Monticello Life – Andrew Bentz”

  1. Juston Jenkins says:

    Thanks for doing this article. Andrew Bentz is a great person.

  2. kt says:

    yes! Great job…everything i thought it would be and more! Much deserved! ;)

  3. Andrew Bentz says:

    One person that Mandy and I did not discuss in the article that has been a very instrumental part of my life is my little brother Bradley. I had to at least mention him in a comment. I love you Bradley!

  4. 60's Teen says:

    Wow! I didn’t know Andrew had so many talents! Congratulations!
    I know the McKiever family but only know Andrew as Leslie’s son and the good Drew Co. Developmental Disabilities worker. It takes special, caring people to work with the developmentally disabled. I’ve known Karonica for years as she and my daughter are the same age & graduated in the same high school class. She is a gentle person and a fantastic mom to Tory. It is wonderful that he has his mom and Andrew in his life as people who love him in the manner he deserves. The baby is so cute and sounds like a gifted child.

  5. Andrew "Andy" Briant says:

    Good article Mandy! Andrew and little bro Bradley are very nice guys whom I had the privilidge of getting to know as they were growing up! They graced our music store frequently…

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