Dino Gardner is a Canadian battle rapper known by his stage name, Franchise and his nickname, Mr. No Lacking. He’s one of the most well-known Canadian rappers and has 29 battles cataloged. He started his career in 2014 but reached mainstream success in 2017, rising in URL ranks and being the first non-American battle rapper to sign a URL contract.
Franchise will make his return to URL on May 7th, 2022 after close to a 2 year lay off on the Civil War 2 card that will take place on a stage in Raleigh, North Carolina. Franchise has not performed on a URL big stage event in close to 3 years. And he is also a few years removed from being a Top 20 battle rapper. He was on his way to elevate to new heights before many obstacles presented their selves. Let’s look back at how good Franchise was in his All-star year in battle rap and can he get back to that level.
2019. All-Star Year
in 2019, the Source ranked Franchise #17, out of their Top 20 Battle Rappers list for the year. Making a top battler list at the end of the year from prestige and widely recognized media outlets was an indication that you had an impactful year in battle rap. To be regarded as one of the best battle rappers in the world for a specific year, is a special accolade that lives forever.
2019 was a breakout year for Franchise. He started the year with a good performance against Chef Trez on a Born Legacy 6 event, out in Tampa, Florida. Then he was able to secure a huge win against Danny Myers on a Banned Legacy II event, out in Richmond, VA. After his victory over Danny, he earned himself a shot against a prominent puncher and dangerous battle rapper in Ave. Keep in mind, Ave hadn’t lost a single round all year on URL by the time he was faced up with Franchise. Ave was a heavy favorite going into the battle and he was able to show Franchise the levels between a veteran and rising talent. None the less, Franchise had a strong performance and continued to showcase his consistency as a energetic performer with a high volume of gun bars.
At this point of the year, Franchise has a URLTV App record of 1 win and 2 losses, with 3 awesome performances headed towards an incline.
The Breakout Performance
Franchise vs Jakkboy Maine was booked on the Summer Impact Reloaded card that took place in Queens, New York, at club Amazura. Summer Impact is an extension of Summer Madness, so this was the closest variation for both of these emcees to make their Summer Madness Debut. This venue holds over 4000 people, while it was not filled to capacity, make no mistake, it was a HUGE event. A lot of Main stream media was in attendance, the event had free admission, so many fans were in attendance. This was the largest size audience Franchise has ever stood in front of.
With less than 2 weeks to prepare, when the lights was the brightest, Franchise puts on a career high performance and has a complete breakthrough on this big stage. It was like he finally came into his style because he completely leveled up from his Ave performance, he obtained a pristine sense of timing, enhanced his performance, displayed stage presence, he amplified his aggression, his delivery was sharper and bars were all effective. He was clicking on all cylinders and proved why he belongs on this stage. He looked visibly comfortable and was extremely confident that he would be able to execute everything he wanted.
A performance like this got high praise from all of his peers in the building. Here is a photo of Hitman Holla recognizing game and giving Franchise his respect for an explosive performance.
The Decline And Impact Of COVID
After his impactful victory over Jakkboy Maine, Franchise continues his stellar 2019 with a battle against an elite competitor in JC, a battle against a Philly Legend, E Ness on Battle Academy and he makes his debut on a Smack Volume series against Chicago’s battle rap legend, Big T. Franchise closes out his year winning 3 of his last 4 battles and he ends his 2019 on +.500 record on the URLTV App, with 4 wins and 3 losses.
In January 2020, Franchise kicks off the year with a battle against Shotgun Suge, on the URL Update card, which was a small room private event. That’s when I started to notice a trend developing in Franchise’s URLTV app statistics.
They say men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. While the eye test would tell us that Franchise’s performance against Jakkboy was his career high, his URLTV app stats would also support this statement.
Franchise’s total reactions against Jakkboy was a career high 110K reactions. Since that battle, there has been a steady decline in his reaction stats within the next 5 battles on URL.
The common denominator within his next 5 battles was the environment. Those battles all took place in a small room. For context, he has a great performance against JC, following the momentum from Summer Impact Reloaded, he secures a win over Big T with a subpar performance, he falls short of a victory against Shotgun Suge with a more solid showing and then he was derailed momentarily by COVID-19.
Franchise was booked for a roof top battle against Rum Nitty that was scheduled to go down in May 2020, but Franchise could not travel to the states from Canada, due to travel restrictions. Then he doesn’t get back in the mix until July. He makes his entry to the Ultimate Madness 2 Tournament, where he suffers a first round exit versus Tink Da Demon as a favorite going into the battle. Then he proceeds battle Th3 Saga in a exhibition battle and has a good performance, however this battle is registered as a loss on the URLTV App for Franchise. While he may have had some good performances in this run, it pales in comparison to what he has shown he is capable of, on a the big stage. In Franchise’s last 5 consecutive battles on URL, his app record is 1-4 in this sample size.
We have enough evidence to question if Franchise’s style can still render the same impact and production he’s shown on a stage, within a small room. The answer to that question is no. He is a high volume, rapid fire puncher, who remains vigorous through out the entirety of his performance. His best attributes as battler are enhanced by being in front of a crowd. Franchise is able fuel the crowd with his own energy and the crowd reciprocates it back it to him. His material is quick, effective and hard hitting. The momentum he receives from the crowd, amplifies the intensity in his delivery. He is relentless with the amount of gun bars he packs and his aggression becomes invigorated when his material lands with the crowd. His first round against Jakkboy Maine has a total of 50K reactions on the URLTV app, that round alone has more reactions than his last two performances combined. The COVID room has stripped his powers away.
With some unfortunate circumstances like the Rum Nitty battle never getting rescheduled and Franchise’s limited abilities to be effective within the COVID rooms, the momentum of his career came to a complete halt. Despite Franchise having a dynamic run, he has also been missing in action recently. In a recent interview on HipHopIsReal with Knowledge Da God, he detailed the reasons behind his absence.
The Reason For The Hiatus
Franchise wasn’t even in the country for some time – he went to Jamaica for three months to see his brother, who got deported a few years ago. And the COVID restrictions of Canada made travel very difficult.
At first, he could not go to Jamaica because he didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine and was restricted from traveling. Eventually, Franchise got vaccinated and went to see his brother. In addition to spending time with family, this allowed him to get back to his roots and clear his head.
However, just because he wasn’t on the battle rap scene doesn’t mean he didn’t miss battles. In fact, his break helped him re-discover and get excited about battle rap. Before his break, he was starting to lose his love for it, which is one reason he didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine right away. However, watching everything that was going on and seeing the new talent in the battle rap world motivated him and made him fall back in love with battle rap.
When confronted with fans’ disappointment at his disappearance, Franchise said he understood where they were coming from and didn’t have any plans to leave again. Additionally, he couldn’t log into the Facebook account he used for battle rap when he was abroad and couldn’t get a message out to the community.
Needing a Break
Franchise’s love for the artform is abundantly clear. When asked about his last battle, he recalls it perfectly. It was against Th3 Saga two weeks after the tournament where Franchise battled Tink. He opens up about being upset about LB and not even wanting to go through with the battle. In July 2020, battle rapper LB Da Boss lost his life in a fishing accident – something that deeply affected the entire battle rap community.
This loss and negativity, combined with other things that Franchise was going through, left him needing a break to clear his head. He wasn’t even watching battles or keeping up with the news. LB and Franchise were extremely close. Any time Franchise came to the U.S., LB picked him up at the airport. LB was also present at his battles, cheering him on. For Franchise, thinking about performing without having LB in his corner supporting him, changed everything.
Franchise’s return to battle rap vs Drugz
However, almost two years later, Franchise is ready to return to battle rap and is set to battle Drugz. He’s eager to see the reception he gets and has a lot of new material. While he’s the same person, his style has evolved.
When asked why now and why he’s saying yes to the URL and Drugz, Franchise replied that he’s wanted to battle Drugz for a long time. While they always discussed it, they were waiting for the right opportunity to have a stage battle instead of one in a small room.
He also emphasized changing after he visited Jamaica to see his family. Amongst other revelations, he realized that he was talented and wanted to return to battle rap and take it seriously.
Now that he’s back and set to battle against Drugz on May 7, 2022, Franchise admits that Drugz is a formidable opponent who has spent the last few years leveling up and working on his craft. However, Franchise also knows what he needs to do to defeat him and is excited to show the battle rap world how he has evolved. Drugz and Franchise both came into the league together, as they were both a part of the 2017 Proving Ground class. Finally after all these years, they get a chance to stand across each other on the stage.
Franchise vs Drugz.— BATTLE RAP’S WOJ (@LTBRpodcast) February 5, 2020
Might be time for that.
After Franchise’s dominate and impressive performance at Summer Impact Reloaded, he has not performed on a URL big stage event since September 2019. While Drugz does not have a performance or round on the app that surpasses Franchise’s peak numbers, Drugz is on a run and has displayed consistency all 2022. So this could easily make for Battle Of The Night, at Civil War 2.
Franchise is focused on being back on URL and battling on a big stage. He even goes as far as to call it “perfect.” While we’re not sure about it being perfect, one thing is clear – Franchise is back and ready to show the battle rap community what they’ve been missing and he returns to the element where he has seen the most success. I think there is a great chance we see Franchise perform at his peak level again.