Raymond Scott, or Benzino as he's known in the rap world, is no stranger to beef. During his tenure as head of The Source magazine in the early 2000s, he became entrenched in a verbal war with Eminem. The two exchanged countless diss tracks, but eventually, the tension died down and the beef subsided.
Today, Zino's situation is no different. He's still a magazine owner -- he and his partner Dave Mays have launched Hip Hop Weekly -- and beef is still on his plate. However, this time it's with buzzing rap super group Slaughterhouse, consisting of Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Royce Da 5'9.
It all started back in September 2009, when Benzino told N.O.R.E.'s 57thAve.com website that he felt the new group was overrated, explaining that the group blocked his magazine from doing an interview over industry politics. This was followed by an alleged diss from Royce, which Zino eventually recorded a response to called "Break to Build." As of late, the rappers have been trading disses via Internet videos. Crooked I sent Zino a warning, followed by a response by Zino, and then, eventually Royce weighed in with his own video.
Benzino's camp reached out to us last week to clear the air about the entire situation. Zino broke down why the disagreement started, and explains the deeper message behind his madness in keeping it alive. Read on to find out what he's talking about.
BallerStatus.com: Break down your whole situation with Slaughterhouse -- where the beef stems from and all that.
Benzino: The whole Slaughterhouse thing is kinda crazy. I got a few points of view on it. One of the guys -- Royce's manager Kino, I guess is the husband of Kim Osorio (former Editor-In-Chief of The Source). She's the one that filed the suit against me and [Dave Mays] ... the sexual harassment lawsuit. She actually lost that.
We wanted to give Slaughterhouse some [publicity in Hip Hop Weekly], and basically they said "Nah, no Slaughterhouse members can do anything with Hip Hop Weekly" because of that situation. At the time, I was kinda heated about that. Not so much as far as them getting in it, because I'm trying to show them some love. But, basically because of the fact that they would let a female be the big problem behind all this. So, I was over N.O.R.E.'s house, and I just told him "Yo, I felt like [Slaughterhouse] was overrated."
Even before the stuff with the blogging went on, I was -- this goes with a bigger thought -- for some reason, people think you have to be a certain way to be lyrical, or to make music. The underground people, I think they put a false perception, in their own minds, on what they think hip-hop should be. I think to be a real street cat out here -- of course, computers are everywhere now. The whole Internet has definitely crossed into the streets, but it hasn't got all the way into the street. Definitely, a lot of street cats are using the computers, especially to promote their stuff online. So, it's a whole different audience out there, as far as people who don't really mess with computers I've come to find out. I think the people who are really into the Internet, the fans, I think they're really into Slaughterhouse for all the wrong reasons. I hear how lyrical they are and everything else, but when I listen to them, honestly, I really believe they're overrated. That's just my opinion.
Crooked I said the same thing about Lil Wayne. He felt that he was overrated. Everybody has their own opinions. I'm a fan of hip-hop. I love some groups and there's some others that I just don't feel. I guess when I said that, it ticked Royce off and everybody. He said a little something in a freestyle. To me, the freestyle ... if you was to read all this stuff about him, he's being compared to the rap Jesus Christ. So, when I heard that freestyle of him throwing a shot at me, I'm like "That sh** is trash." I'm like "This is the dude that everybody giving all these props huh?" I did my homework and listened to a few of they joints, and some of them was cool, but some of they joints was trash.
BallerStatus.com: So you feel it's hypocritical for Crooked I to say Lil Wayne is overrated, but if you say it, it's taken to heart?
Benzino: You said it, not me. I feel the same way. They're the first ones to bring guns into this whole thing. When Royce said: "I get the hammer, I blam and damage ya" ... that's bringing guns into it. Then, when I did my little blog, all I said was look ... I explained the whole thing with Raekwon, and I said if there was beef, this is how beef gets handled. It's the truth. Real beef isn't a lot what this hip-hop sh** is. I think in the media and a lot of fans out there really want it to be that to get they own self hyped up, but it really isn't.
For [Crooked I] to make me out to be some fictional character, when he was the first one to say "You know how we get down, it could get nasty, it'll get ugly, squash it." In other words, he's talking all this ... the way I take it is on some real beef sh**. He's throwing up signs and everything. How can you try to make a mockery with some slave sh**, when to me, these guys wanna get signed to Eminem. He's been kicking Long Beach killer sh** for years, and now, he's trying to kick something else.
I think they confused. I think they pretty good lyricists ... I think they get passes 'cause they into the underground computer world fan club. I mean, because the stuff Joe Budden is doing is ridiculous with the chicks and the blogs. Crooked I looked crazy ... he looked so uncomfortable on his blog. And, the sh** that Royce and his partner did, that looked crazy. I kinda can see right through these guys. Joell Ortiz, he was "Unsigned Hype" in The Source magazine, so I ain't got nothing bad to say about Joell. As far as I'm concerned, they all lyrical, but they haven't proven to make big songs yet that can really catapult them to that fame that they desire.
BallerStatus.com: Don't you think the video of you flashing the big gun with a silencer really took this whole situation to another level?
Benzino: First of all, there wasn't a silencer on it. If anybody knows anything about guns, you'd know that wasn't a silencer. Second of all, I don't know about anybody else, but all my guns are legal. So, I'm not gonna get on something and incriminate myself.
I never threatened nobody with no guns or nothing, if you listen carefully to what I said. I said "If there was beef ..." -- and there were two guys that made a statement about guns -- so I said "Since we on the subject on guns, I'm just showing." When you really look down to the legalities, what I said and how I went about it, I went about it real grown man-ish. I don't condone no young kid out there using guns. I definitely think the whole black on black killing each other is definitely a problem. I don't condone that. It was just a situation where we was communicating with each other, and I'm just trying to show them the difference between what rap battling is and what real beef is.
BallerStatus.com: I see. But, if you were to step into their shoes and they did the same thing on a video, would you get a little mad at it?
Benzino: I mean, come on, Royce had a rocket launcher on there (laughs). So, when you look at it, I guess he won 'cause I ain't got no tank in the backyard (laughs). This whole thing, a lot of it is entertainment. I know where I came from. I know how I came up, so there's nothing where I have to prove myself or anything. A lot of these young kids get confused with this rap stuff, as far as real life. I think my point wasn't taken. This interview should clear a lot of it up. There is a big difference between "real" beef and "rap" beef.
Even the situation with me and Eminem, none of that -- to me -- was real beef. My life was never threatened at any time, and I don't think his was. I think the situation with [Eminem] was that once you get to that plateau, a little bit of arrogance and kinda like you feel you're anointed, so when anyone does something against you, you really take it to heart. That's how he took it. There's a method to my madness though ... the Eminem thing, it's been documented. At the end of the day, I wasn't going up against Eminem, per say. I was going against the commercialization of hip-hop, and the major difference of the money and how it was being divided from the hood to the corporation. He was the catalyst of that. To this day, I still believe that's there is more of a divide in hip-hop than it was because of Eminem. That's just my opinion. I don't look to harm anybody with my opinion, but at the same time, if everybody just bows down to the status quo or everybody is political because they're so scared of jeopardizing their music careers and they don't speak up for what's right, then nothing ever will change as far as artists get their just dues, or the whole monetary gain of hip-hop shifting back to the hood.
At the end of the day, that battle will go down in history. But as time goes on, people will really understand what my intentions were. As we move on, maybe people will look at it in another light, and maybe kinda see where I was coming from and try to change it.
BallerStatus.com: Didn't realize there was so much thought behind it all...
Benzino: Right now, you got a lot of white kids out there that really ... since Eminem sells a lot and is the hottest right now -- a lot of them just take it for that, as opposed to taking it in respect of the other side of it. It never was a racial thing. How can it be? Before Eminem, white people had black people on their posters in their rooms. Then, when MTV comes -- and not to knock MTV -- trying to get white kids and trying to build up a whole white nation of rappers for white kids to think that they have to buy within their race -- that, to me, messed up everything from the start.
Hip-hop made it where the white kid could be like "Wow, this is kinda cool. I wanna get involved in that culture -- the music, the dress." Then, the whole thing did a 360 where it's basically there's now. When I saw "there's" I say it in a sense of the money side of it.
At the end of the day, I think creativity is gonna win. It's gonna take a while because programming is a deep thing to the mind. The natural creativeness has to come out, where people will be like "Damn, let's get back to some real music and some real hip-hop." Not saying that what Eminem does isn't real hip-hop, or he even wants to get caught up in a lot of this, but it is what it is. I think he could've been more responsible just to have dialog about it and understand where it was coming from. He could've helped the situation more that way, instead of hurting it, because he can talk to these white kids and let them know.
BallerStatus.com: As far as Slaughterhouse, is it over? Or is there more coming?
Benzino: I just feel like the music that I'm doing and the people that I'm around working with are better than [Slaughterhouse], point blank, as far as making songs and lyrically hanging out with each one of them. What I'mma do now, I put together this group to specifically go at them. It's gonna be a cat from DC by the name of Pop, this other kid from Brooklyn by the name of Streets, and I got a surprise for the last one. [I got them together] just to go at these guys, but more or less to show the Internet world ... and these cats are real street cats. They not underground, the backpackers, they real street cats. I wanna show the underground world that real street cats can still get it in, and maybe change the perception of what they look at as "gangster rap" or "street rap", opposed to what underground rap is. I think there's a thin line. I just wanna prove it.
It's a situation where I had to get some high guns to come on in -- lyrical monsters who really go at dudes like [Slaughterhouse]. I've noticed battle rapping, song making, freestyling -- these are all different things right here. I run across artists who are all different. I had to get some specialists that have been riding with Zino, like look at me as an OG and willing to ride.
I got a mixtape coming out with my 1st 48 group from Miami called When The Heavens Fall. The song, going against Slaughterhouse with my new group is going to be on that mixtape. If they so lyrical, then I guess it'll be a slaughter then. We'll have to see.