Ray Benzino might be setting up his personal Tet Offensive, a series of aggressive moves in his long running war again “the machine.” And like the famous strategy in a war torn 1960’s Vietnam, Benzino hopes to topple his adversaries in a spectacular fashion and drive them out of Hip-Hop for the good of the culture.
If this offensive is to work, Boston native must contend with a number of obstacles from his cumbersome work as The Source’s Co-Owner/ Chief Brand Manager to and his plethora of enemies and his other affairs.
Rumors have swirled of The Source’s financial woes, sale, and eviction. If that weren’t enough, Benzino and the magazine have not only criticized G-Unit for [being agents of the corporate machine?], but also accuse radio heavyweights like Funkmaster Flex of accepting pay for play. Although his foes deny the charges, ‘Zino is pursuing them using every weapon in his arsenal. Read the war report from Zino’s uniquely abrasive perspective.
AllHipHop.com: Let’s touch on the issue of The Source and bankruptcy, what is really going on?
Benzino: We are definitely not filing bankruptcy, that’s a lie. Dave has been handling the finances since day one. What happened is he took out a loan to get in on the Internet stuff; the next thing you know we are indebted to this bank because of the high interest rate. It’s funny that in Hip-Hop, everyone has money except for the artists. There is a big corporate machine that basically exploits our music and our artists, and this is exactly like one of those situations where corporate America thought they could get over.
AllHipHop.com: Besides the issue of bankruptcy, there is also speculation that financial troubles is leading to an eviction of The Source at your 23rd street office in New York.
Benzino: We are not being evicted. We are just looking for a smaller space because we aren’t using it. There is no reason to continue paying for a space that we aren’t using, so we are in the process of shopping around.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of businesses – many are still wondering why you are still beefing with artists at Aftermath?
Benzino: You know what we have explained the issue with Eminem and Jimmy Iovine repeatedly. I really can’t understand how he can be rated one of the top rated MC’s when he is exploiting our music. I mean, it’s crazy because we have beef with Interscope, who basically has everything locked down. People won’t advertise with us. So we decided to go through a restructure just like any other business. But everyone wants to talk about The Source, but everyone wants a business like The Source, I hate the fact that we get criticized for promoting ourselves. If you look at it, we aren’t doing anything different than Russell Simmons or Damon Dash. Honestly, if you wear two hats, of course you’re going to cross-promote between the two.
AllHipHop.com: Recently there has been a lot of friction between you and Funkmaster Flex, what’s the issue and how did that start?
Benzino: First off, I would like to say there is no beef. He talks a lot of trash [on air at Hot 97] and when he leaves, he has a group of security guards, but one day he is going to slip and when we do collide you are going to hear about it.
AllHipHop.com: Touching on another subject dealing with the payola scandals, what is the deal behind this lawsuit you are filing against the industry?
Benzino: We are filing a lawsuit against the major forces in the industry for the middle-man, because it’s the middle man who doesn’t get their artists played in a major market like New York – because they aren’t paying. We are linking up with all the artists and managers, anyone who has tried honestly to get they stuff heard and couldn’t because they wasn’t paying. In all honesty, Flex thought he was going to be gone a long time ago because of the payola. I ain’t going to lie, I used to pay Flex back in the day, but now because he down with G-Unit he want to trip, b*tch please. That’s why I am telling you, if we ever met up, it’s a wrap.
AllHipHop.com: A lot if people have been coming down on The Source not because of the “G-U-Not” issue, but because the attack seems to have been going on for a long time now.
Benzino: We basically are taking a stand, but while everyone points out the fact we are standing up, no one is saying anything about XXL being bought out to put them on the cover every month.
AllHipHop.com: Steve Stoute has been on Hot 97 talking about he loaned Dave Mays money for The Source and he’s made reference to the fact that he is in the process of looking into buying The Source.
Benzino: Steve has always been on Dave’s d**k. He’s on Hot 97 lying. Notice how he’s saying, “He was going to buy The Source,” he wasn’t going to do nothing. We bought his house back in the day when he was in trouble, and turned it into the Made Men headquarters, I mean this is the same guy that was chased by Foxy Brown and smacked across the head by Diddy; so he has always been a peon. The best description I have for Steve Stoute is a crab who jumps on everybody’s d**k. Dave borrowed $500,000 from him and gave it back to him, then he tried to ask for $100,000 in interest. Put it like this: anyone who mentions my name will get the business. Chubby Chubb got it, DJ Enuff apologized, so it’s over. But next time I see Flex and Tony Yay,o it’s on. I want everyone to know that Flex and Tony Yayo aren’t allowed in Boston.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking on Tony Yayo, what happened with him being on the cover of The Source?
Benzino: Tony Yayo saw me in South Beach, ran across the street and started talking that trash about how 50 best not be on the cover.
AllHipHop.com: What happened to The Source Awards and is it going to be held again?
Benzino: UPN had it for a year, but UPN was really scared of the Hip-Hop audience. Too many people say they support the craft, but then they turn their back on it. I mean now they do the Vibe awards, which is some cookie cutter bulls**t; some stuff for Steve Stoute and Russell Simmons. They are too busy trying to reach a suburban audience, that they aren’t paying attention to the ‘hood. But we are in the process of taking The Source Awards to another network, so we are looking at hosting it in January of 2006.
AllHipHop.com: So what happened at BET?
Benzino: The same thing that happened to Free and AJ, the same people that had problems with them is who we have issues with. I mean there is so much stuff going on with them up there that it’ crazy. You got Scott Mills who has a family, dating some guy in the legal department and he was the main one with issues about Dave and I showing up at our own awards show. So you best believe that is one case that we will win in court, because the contract we had with BET was straight black and white and it was for three years, so I am waiting for that day in court.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anyone else you want to air out that has been putting you on blast?
Benzino: I mean everyone over at Hot 97, Angie Martinez she talks all that s**t. You know what, here is a contest: I got $97.00 for anyone who can guess who the father of her baby is.
AllHipHop.com: Other than issues with side talking, what’s next for Benzino?
Benzino: Right now the next issue of The Source is taking an in-depth look at Hip-Hop behind bars, we are in the process of releasing a Source sponsored Hip-Hop hits album with Warner Music. We have launched three additions to The Source Magazine family which is The Source Latino, The Source France, and The Source Japan and last but least we have The Source ringtones. So we are definitely doing it big and not going for broke.