Benzino: The Source Part 1

Ray Benzino has his hands full. Lyrical and verbal sparring with Eminem, a war against “The Machine,” and now sensational accusations from two former female Source employees claiming sexual harassment and discrimination – and all at once.

If history is any proof, Benzino isn’t one to back down from a challenge or confrontation. The past few days, it’s proven difficult to discern what’s what. The Source co-owner has resigned his executive post, reinstated himself and a number of matters have erected themselves over the past few business days. What’s really going on? AllHipHop.com went straight to The Source.

AllHipHop.com: Well, first of all, I want you to clear up this whole thing that’s going on with The Source—your resignation and everything. Tell us the real story.

Benzino: Okay, Friday morning, Dave got a call that L.A. Reid was pressured to lose his job if he didn’t pull Def Jam’s ads.

AllHipHop.com: Okay.

Benzino: Jimmy Iovine at Interscope, because of the whole beef going with us and Interscope and Jimmy Iovine. I felt that before another Black executive loses his job, one of the only ones up there, I felt that this was getting too much that I would step down, but you gotta understand, stepping down is a complicated thing with me because I co-own the magazine. So I would just have stepped away from it creatively, if I felt that but at the last minute Al Sharpton and Black Enterprise and Dave and the staff basically supported me just like they have me and said that no, they don’t need—that I don’t have to step down, that they would support me. And Rev. Al Sharpton called L.A. Reid and confirmed it that Jimmy Iovine did threaten to have him fired. That’s crazy because Interscope has nothing to do with Def Jam – or at least shouldn’t.

AllHipHop.com: And has Jimmy Iovine responded in any way to these accusations?

Benzino: Um, Jimmy Iovine doesn’t talk too much. Jimmy

Iovine just makes decisions and he’s a very, you know, arrogant—they’re very arrogant over there, as far as trying to fix things. But to me, it’s more or less getting out of hand just like his lawsuit. He ended up suing us and after pulling out when everything was gonna come to light about Eminem lying about his age and about the tapes and everything, pulled out at the last minute three weeks before the trial.

AllHipHop.com Why did you publicly announce that you were leaving the magazine?

Benzino: Because I wanted everybody to know how—I wanted everybody, especially artists at Def Jam—what’s going on up there, like how can Jimmy Iovine fire a Black man because he’s putting in advertisement for artists. Those artists try and sell records just like 50 Cents and Eminem selling 70 percent of all records. What about Bleek? Source is still the number one magazine on the news stands—like they still need that.

AllHipHop.com: So did you intend on leaving?

Benzino: I definitely intended on stepping down from my post. I

definitely did, yes I did.

AllHipHop.com: I think it’s hard for some people not to see this as

publicity or something.

Benzino: Oh no, but how can it be publicity when L.A. Reid was

threatened to be fired? How can that be publicity, like

that happened, so how is it publicity? That actually happened.

AllHipHop.com: I mean, for you to actually announce your

resignation.

Benzino: Of course, because I wanted the world to know what is going on up there at Interscope.

AllHipHop.com: So why didn’t you just announce that instead of saying that you were leaving?

Benzino: No because I was gonna leave. I was stepping down.

AllHipHop.com: Because of all that controversy?

Benzino: That’s right.

AllHipHop.com: You also said that the ongoing Eminem lawsuit basically played a large role in your reason—

Benzino: No, no, no, not the lawsuit. That might have got misprinted on the press release— [Press release: The ongoing Eminem lawsuit played a big role in Benzino’s initial decision to leave the magazine] —just the Eminem beef, the ongoing beef. The whole—this whole Eminem beef of him trying to smokescreen everything. And as far as—as far as The Source goes, they pulled out the trial. That means that we won. We won the rights to publish that tape of him saying “n**ga” and calling Black girl b**ches. So as far as I’m concerned we don’t have to deal with that no more. This issue with Game on the cover was gonna be our last time. We

also exposed a lot more about Jimmy Iovine that I’m sure a lot of other people didn’t know about.

AllHipHop.com: Why was that [the beef] part of the reason for you

wanting to leave?

Benzino: As far as the beef? No, no as far as the reason for me wanting to leave was the L.A. Reid thing. [The Eminem beef] was just an ongoing whole thing, but the L.A. Reid thing was the reason for me leaving not the Eminem. It was just like—

AllHipHop.com: It wasn’t part of it?

Benzino: Everything was just—I’m just getting tired of all this, like it’s not—you know. Like, the whole journalists. Like these

whole insecure journalists who don’t really have a life and don’t

really have nothing, but to pray for The Source and my downfall is like come on, like it’s not happening. We’re actually better—in better shape than we’ve ever been.

AllHipHop.com: Which journalists are you referring to?

Benzino: Any journalist. Any journalist. Journalists are very insecure

people that we have in Hip-Hop, very insecure. A lot of journalists are very insecure, can’t say all of them but a lot of them. And believe me, I’ve come across journalists from day one—You gotta remember, The Source birthed this. We birthed this whole Hip-Hop journalist thing. All the editors from the other magazines, they all come from The Source. Elliot Wilson was like an Assistant Music Editor down here, and the other girl who had a crush on Dave, Mimi Valdes used to have a crush on Dave, was a Fashion Editor over here. They all came from here.

AllHipHop.com: Mimi Valdes at Vibe magazine?

Benzino: Oh yes, the Editor-in-Chief along with Elliot Wilson. They all came from The Source magazine, all of them.

AllHipHop.com: But fans in general kind of see The Source as falling apart, not really the top magazine anymore.

Benzino: Nah but that’s not true because we’re still the number one

selling on the newsstands—still outselling XXL and Vibe magazine. So how can that be?

AllHipHop.com: And how do you think this could possibly help the

magazine—all this controversy?

Benzino: Oh no no no, this is like the magazine is like—people love—at the end of the day when you pick up The Source magazine, we still have incredible articles and incredible covers. The magazine hasn’t fell off, it’s actually gotten better. We still—we have an incredible Jadakiss cover coming out, after we got DMX. We still number one in this. We birthed this. You gotta remember XXL was Interscope’s magazine. Source hasn’t fell off at all. We still—you gotta remember that the Source Awards was the number six watched show in the history of BET. You gotta remember we have Source Latino coming out. We got Source.com about to kill ’em. We got the whole Source clothing line out there. We got Source Mobile. Source ain’t—how can source fall off when Source has the Hip-Hop hits [CD] has sold over five million copies.

AllHipHop.com: I’m just speaking from what I hear from fans and—

Benzino: No, no, no, you don’t hear from fans. You hear it from haters. But that’s cool because now you’re hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth.

AllHipHop.com: Okay, right, right. So what happened with the press conference that was scheduled Friday?

Benzino: Um, I actually planned on—I was told that I should just cancel it. I was in the emergency meeting with Reverend Al Sharpton and everybody because you know I had to sit on a panel the very next day, Saturday for this Anti-Violence in Radio conference.

AllHipHop.com: Okay, so at press time these leaders called an emergency meeting and told you—

Benzino: Exactly. ‘Cause remember I got the call—We got the call about the L.A. Reid thing so I made my decision and a few hours after that, there was an emergency meeting around the same time the press conference was scheduled and I just never made it to the news conference.

Click here for Part 2!

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