Sizing up some of the biggest disputes and beefs involving the former Source co-owner.
Calling Ray Benzino a professional agitator might be putting it politely. Over the years, he’s had a number of different titles: hip-hop executive, CEO and co-owner of The Source, Love and Hip-Hop star, Almighty RSO leader and most infamously, he's been at the losing end of a rap feud with Eminem. His recent appearance on Noreaga's Drink Champs podcast had us wondering about this. For years, the man has held a place in the world of hip-hop as one of its most divisive characters. Is Benzino the kind of guy who will fight with anyone or is he really that passionate about the culture?
Without further ado, here’s everything to know about each notable Benzino beef. We’re counting rap beefs only: sorry Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta fans!
BENZINO VS. THE SOURCE
Benzino and Dave Mays attend a Ja Rule video shoot in Brooklyn, NY, 2003 - Jim Hwang/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
In the ‘90s, The Source was rap’s bible and Benzino’s pull with the revered mag would be a major catalyst in his larger disputes. His association with the magazine began in the ‘80s when he met founder Dave Mays in Boston. Mays would begin to manage Benzino’s group the Almighty RSO and in 1994, he would use his power to publish a glowing profile in The Source. This move sparked the ire of his staffers, who all walked out. Benzino would later become co-owner in 1996. This was kept off The Source’s masthead for the rest of the decade, not being revealed until after 2003.
As The Source grew from small magazine startup to the iconic '90s spread it become known for, Benzino would use his pull to secure higher ratings for his own projects, with Made Men's Classic Limited Edition getting 4 and a half mics when it was released in 1999. Benzino would use the magazine to further propel his career, much to the ire of other rappers in the industry.
Benzino and Mays would be forced out of the magazine a few short years after. The rise of XXL and the fall out of Benzino’s beef with Eminem would indirectly tarnish the reputation of The Source, a move the magazine has yet to recover from.
BENZINO VS. RUFF RYDERS & THE LOX
Allegedly, a two-mic review for Drag-On in The Source was enough to upset numerous Ruff Ryders members. This culminated in a brawl during the Boston show of the 2000 Cash Money/Ruff Ryders tour between the entire Ruff Ryders crew, the LOX and local support Made Men, Benzino’s group. Words were exchanged and before long, a backstage brawl kicked off. Six people were hurt in the brawl, five of them stabbed and the show cancelled. The incident was also mentioned in Eminem’s diss “Go to Sleep” which featured DMX.
As quickly as the beef flared, it also disappear just as fast – nobody involved attempted to escalate things after the Boston show. Benzino would later reach out to Jadakiss to collab as a way to put water under the bridge. The LOX ended up discussing the incident on the RapRadar podcast, claiming that the police warned them they should have killed Benzino. Uhh what??
BENZINO VS. SLAUGHTERHOUSE
Slaughterhouse, 2012 - Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
After Benzino and Dave Mays were forced out of The Source in the mid-2000s, they came back with Hip Hop Weekly. When the rap supergroup Slaughterhouse turned down an interview for the magazine in 2009, Benzino made it clear he felt the group was overrated, which sparked a series of diss tracks and video warnings between Benzino, Royce Da 5’9, Joe Budden and Crooked I. Benzino would later put this beef to rest, claiming he had outgrown it. Slaughterhouse, perhaps unsurprisingly, proved capable of showing up Benzino at every turn – with Royce going so far as claiming Benzino smells like a retirement home.
BENZINO VS. SHADY RECORDS
Eminem at the 1999 MTV Europe Music Awards - Brenda Chase/Online USA/Getty Images
Nothing impacted Benzino as much as when he went after Eminem, of course. Whether it had to do with the rapper ignoring repeated requests for an interview, later doing cover for noted rivals XXL or his criticism of The Source stemming from the fact that The Eminem Show did not receive a five mic score, one thing is for certain: Benzino felt that Eminem needed to go and sent the first shot by calling him a “2003 Vanilla Ice.” Benzino would attempt to question Eminem’s credibility by pulling up tapes of the rapper using racial slurs as a teenager. Eminem fired back with “Nail In The Coffin,” eventually bringing in all of Shady Records and other affiliated acts including 50 Cent and Dr. Dre to bring him down.
The beef would forever alter the reputation of both men. It gave Eminem an unshakeable aura that refuses to leave even close to twenty years later. For Benzino, it became his elephant in the room, but it's something he has no problem acknowledging.
“At that time I felt deep about what I was standing for,” he says. “My thing was hip hop and I always said this, and people have heard it before, hip hop is the only thing that made white people come to the culture, buy into the culture, spend money and also interact through the culture through hip hop. Nothing else has happened, nothing else that brought white people to black people [more] than that. So, I felt like once they get a white rapper and make him white where that white people wanna buy him, then they fuck with that balance ‘cause now white people was just fucking with him because of the skin color.”