Technically speaking, prolific mixtape king DJ Benzi lives in a quiet Ann Arbor apartment within walking distance of the University of Michigan stadium and Briarwood Mall. Practically speaking, Ben "Benzi" Bottrell lives in cyberspace — simultaneously remixing tracks and instant-messaging 20 to 50 people at a time from his second floor studio, sometimes for a few sleepless days on end. Usually he's hitting the sheets as his girlfriend Lauren is headed out the door to work.
But such sleep deprivation has been paying off. The list of artists he's worked with recently reads like a hip-hop who's who — Cool Kids, Clipse, Lil' Wayne and Diplo to mention a few. He just inked a deal with Diplo's Mad Decent label and his debut Get Right: The Album will be out on Amalgam Digital this spring. His mixtapes get glossy love from Urb, Rolling Stone and others. Shit, Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz and main squeeze Ashlee Simpson are fans, chilled at one of Benzie's recent Chicago gigs.
But Benzi's home life is sedate. His two-story apartment has a living room with a cathedral ceiling. Its balcony overlooks the woods. His well-kept studio on the second floor sits above a guest bedroom that Benzi keeps just for his parents' monthly visits from Traverse City.
His road life is pretty sedate too. His future brother-in-law Ross works for Explorer Van Company, a customizer to the stars. So it's not uncommon for Ross to drive him to a gig in a van loaded with an HDTV and a bed in the back. "It's nice to roll like Michael Jordan, you know?" Benzi cracks.