Benzino is back. In the years following his and partner Dave Mays' departure from The Source magazine, he continued to record music ... and finally, over the weekend, the Boston-bred rapper dropped his first new project in years -- a mixtape titled Ceazar.
When we spoke to him this week, that wasn't the only topic we discussed though. One of the most surprising revelations Zino let us in on was that in the coming year, he plans to re-kindle his long-running beef with Eminem ... and promises that things will be much different this time around.
"I'm gonna tell you, I don't want my legacy left as Benzino lost the battle to Eminem. I'm gonna end up going back at him," the rapper revealed to BallerStatus.com. "I'mma tell you right now, and it's gonna be different this time. I feel like a boxer, I wasn't really in lyrical shape to battle him then. Now, I feel like I am.
"I'mma let this Ceazar mixtape do what it do, I'm coming out with [my next project] Vegas Music. But then in 2012, which they say is gonna be the end of the world, you can expect me to go back at Eminem for round 2. This time, it's gonna be a lot different, trust me," he promised.
According to Zino, although he had a reason for targeting Em back in the early-2000s (exposing "the Machine's unfair co-signing"), he received a lot of flack in the process, and eventually lost the battle, due to the Detroit rapper's lyrical prowess. But, after years of honing his craft, Zino wants a rematch, and says he's ready to take on Em ... lyrically.
"Really now, I can consider myself a lyricist. I play with syllables, I use different flows, so now, it's gonna be different," Zino said. "It's gonna be a whole different situation, because I'm going to be going at him with a lyrical mindset. Not just saying things, trying to point out certain things. 2012, you can expect it."
As Benzino continued, he went as far as saying Em's status as lyrical genius is all hype, adding that the rapper's latest Bad Meets Evil project with Royce Da 5'9, titled Hell: The Sequel, wasn't as good as critics praised it to be. In fact, he claims his Ceazar mixtape is better, if compared side-by-side as a full body of work.
"[Eminem is] known for his lyrics, but that's alright. He's not rap God. He has a few nice punchlines, but a lot of people do," Benzino explains. "This is how I look at it, a lot of people are bias because of the hype. When you listen to [Hell: The Sequel], honestly, you can't even say yourself that was an incredibly hot mixtape. He's Eminem, so everybody gotta manipulate what they say and how they say it. That's not hip-hop. As far as I'm concerned, Ceazar, as a body of work, is better than Bad Meets Evil. It's better and I'm gonna stand by that.
"I want people to judge me on my music. If you go out and get that Ceazar mixtape, and you can really fix your face and say 'Benzino is wack,' then all you're doing is hating. I got bangers on there and that's just bottom-line," he later added.
While some wait for the end of the world in 2012, it will be Benzino's year of reckoning. Will the rapper give em a run for his money? Will Eminem participate in the battle Zino is planning, like he did in the early-2000s? That all remains to be seen.
What do you think? Download his new Ceazar mixtape here, and let us know what you think.
The new mixtape is 21 tracks of new music that Zino's been working on over the past few years. It features guest spots from Stevie J, Waka Flocka Flame, BG, Ray J, and Whoo Da Kid, among others.
Additionally, next up for him will be a new album, titled Vegas Music. The first taste from the upcoming project will come on Thanksgiving day, when Zino drops its first visual, a music video for its title track.
Benzino calls it his "best work to date," and a project where fans and critics alike will get a chance to hear just how much his lyrical ability has improved. But also, set off his new movement, which takes a grown man approach in a time when the genre is dominated by young up-and-comers.
"You're gonna see a whole new Benzino," he explains. "Hip-hop has grown up, it's 35-40 years old now. You got a lot of older cats who can't really listen to this new, young type of music. I wanna bring a whole new, grown man approach to hip-hop. I'm working with a live band, bringing that element. This is gonna be my best stuff to date. I've very proud of this project."
For more info, and/or to download Ceazar, visit Benzino.net.