By 2002 Eminem was considered a mega star in hip hop and at the prime of his career. The Eminem Show had just went triple platinum making it the 2nd highest selling album of the year next to Nellyville. He also tried his acting hand out in Hollywood with his debut on his own bio pic titled 8 Mile. The Movie itself spoke on Eminem’s struggle coming into the rap game with not only limited resources and a trailer park background, But also the fact that he’s a white kid trying to come up into a black dominated genre.
The movie became a smash hit making 8 Mile possibly one of the highest grossing box office movies throughout 2002. The Soundtrack’s lead single titled Lose Yourself was the perfect theme for not only the movie but also people whom are underdogs. He painted the picture as if he was the hip hop version of Rocky Balboa and it also appealed to black audiences as well. Lose Yourself would probably go down as one of the best songs Eminem has ever done and it even earned him a Oscar for best song in a motion picture.
Success was only gonna get better for Em. He knew that he couldn’t be Eminem rapping forever so he had his eye for talent in hoping to build his Shady Records empire. He shocked the world when he announced the official signing of the hottest free agent in hip hop at the time(50 Cent). This deal was truly the icing on the cake. You truly had a potential 3 headed monster with Eminem, Dr Dre and Now 50 Cent. Shady/Aftermath looked like a unstoppable Juggernaut.
But on one cold winter afternoon, Eminem’s life as we know it would forever change. It was the day where Ray Benzino rapper/Owner of the respected hip hop magazine The Source would fire shots at Eminem in a freestyle on Kay Slay’s Drama Hour.Just like that, A new civil war within Hip Hop was drawn.
Whenever it was for record sales, publicity, or to make a name for himself as artist, It’s still very unknown to this day. But according to Benzino, His reasoning for targeting Eminem wasn’t personal, He claimed it was against the Interscope machine and felt Eminem was responsible for raping hip hop of its Black Culture. Seeing as nothing but a small fry, Eminem just dismissed him as another bum trying to shine off his name. Benzino went ahead shortly there after and recorded an even much more disrespectful diss record titled Die Another Day. The gloves came off and Benzino went to a new low of disrespect: he labeled Eminem as a culture stealer, The Rap Hitler, and said that he would John Benet Ramsey Em’s daughter Hailey.
Seeing that battle lines have officially been crossed and never being the one to bite when his daughter is disrespected, Eminem surprised many by actually responding to Benzino on two diss records titled Nail in the Coffin and The Sauce. The two tracks showcased Eminem at his most venomous and proving that he still could get down with the battle records and dropped some very vicious diss records. Eminem or years was criticized for picking on weak targets and pop singers so to see him go at Benzino whom was certified in the streets of Boston and running an influential hip hop magazine proved to be sorta ballsy.
After the releases of The Sauce and Nail in the Coffin, The feud between Eminem and the Source got even nastier.Eminem by responding threw more gasoline in a pitching fire and it showed no signed of being extinguished. The battle even made rappers whom weren’t having issues with one another clash due to affiliation to their cliques. 50 Cent inherited Eminem’s beef with Benzino and The Source and Eminem inherited 50’s beef with Murder Inc. Eminem along with G Unit dropped an onslaught of diss records on Murder Inc, Benzino the Source, Royce da 59 and many others on the DJ Green Lantern mixtape the Invasion. It remains to this day as one of the most anticipated mixtape of all time.
Benzino used the mic to retaliate and The Source to assassinate the character of those under the Interscope umbrella. Most of the issues from 2003-2005 were going at the Interscope machine and any artist affiliated under that camp. The Source even dug in deeper with the risk of being blackballed by exposing payola, mistreatment of black artists, how many blacks under Eminem were uncle toms, and going as far as to exposing Jimmy Iovine as a racist. Diss records were flown left and right with the war having no ending in sight.
While it seemed that 50 Cent was enjoying himself taking shots at Murder Inc, The Source and basically making a mockery of his enemies, Eminem on the other hand was terrified of this new-found situation. These issues were totally different from the underground cyphers. Totally different from Britney Spears, N-Sync, Limp Bizkit, or even ICP.
Regardless of how many feel about them as artists, It’s still known facts that Murder Inc and Benzino were rooted and connected with the streets. This explains why Eminem never went at anybody else affiliated at Murder inc as a crew aside from Ja-Rule and Irv Gotti. Eminem never experienced this type of war in hip hop before and often feared for his life. He spoke on how he feared for the worst in a 2004 interview with Sway.
JayZ even mentioned in his book Decoded that went he hugged Eminem that Eminem was wearing a bullet proof vest, But considering he had street muscle in Detroit(Trick Trick) along with 50 and G-unit’s street muscle, He felt safer to a degree but its clear that he was way over his head.
The Racist Tapes
The toll of the war itself would take its toll on Eminem as well. His drug addictions was catching up with him to where it was effecting him musically(Encore). He feared for his life and he also had the daily pressure of delivering music without taking a break. It was gonna get even worse as Benzino dug deep into Eminem’s Pandora box and dug out tapes of Eminem DISRESPECTING blacks by using the N word and a song disrespecting black women. This would have believed to have been the END of Eminem’s career if the tapes were legitimate
Speculations of the tapes surfaced for weeks, Many of Eminem’s diehard fans didn’t want to believe it and his stans vowed to the death that Eminem wasn’t a racist and loved black people. But once tapes of the freestyles surfaced, Eminem surprisingly admitted that it was him and many were left stunned.
Despite what the Industry would tell you today, There were artists and activists who DID speak out to the Source magazine about their disapproval towards Eminem’s remarks toward Blacks:
MACK 10: “White dudes can’t say [Nigga], especially if they’re saying it in a negative way. If he’s saying, ‘That’s my nigga,’ that’s different. But if you’re saying it in a negative way, I’ma think that shit is racist. Then rap and everything go out the window.”
CROOKED I: “I think the dude is an incredible lyricist, but if you’re a racist, you get no support. If we support a racist, we cutting our own throat. If he’s racist like that, he gotta fall to the side. I want to see him on TV publicly apologize to Black women.”
SKILLZ: “If you say the word Nigger’ out of anger and frustration and call a girl a Black bitch, I’m pretty sure you’ll say it again. I don’t think it’s not a word he hasn’t used since then. Bottom line is I don’t appreciate Eminem using the word Nigger. As soon as I read his statement, I knew something was fishy. He said he was dating a girl who was ‘African-American’! I’ve never heard him use the term ‘African-American’ in his whole life, which made the whole statement look suspect to me. It’s the classic example of someone getting caught and being outta character when they try to explain themselves. It all sounds the same. Sorta like his beats”
JOE BUDDEN: “I don’t know what the fuckk is wrong with him. I love Black women. You almost really do want to believe him, but that type of attitude really can’t be excused, I don’t care how old you were. I don’t really know if it will affect his career, but I think he should apologize. I just hope he doesn’t have those same views today.”
FREDDIE FOXXX: “The bottom line is this: The fact that Eminem is White doesn’t have any reflection on him being a dope MC. But he’s definitely equivalent to Elvis Presley in a sense that Elvis only thought that Black people were good enough to either be his servant, or anything in a type of servitude for him. His goal is to do better than the people he stole from. At the end of the day, what else do you expect from a White man? I’m sure he used the N-word a whole lot of times outside of this.”
STYLES P: “His fucking teeth should have been knocked out—that’s my reaction. But all the Black people who are sucking his cock should be ashamed of themselves. If it was a Black *****, they would have killed his ass. I can’t say something too wrong ’cause he on my label. If he apologizes, it’ll be aiight. If not, that’s fucked up.”
PAUL WALL : “If he made it as a racist song, then hell yeah he’s wrong for it. That’s very stereotypical for him to say that all Black girls want your money. That’s like saying all gay people got AIDS. If he don’t want to date Black girls, that’s cool with me. That’s just more for me. He wrong for it, but he wrong for most of the shit he do.”
BUN B (UGK): “When did he realize he was wrong for saying that? When he got caught? It’s no way that song should have been still out there like that. Nobody should have gotten a copy of that. If he didn’t want nobody to hear it, he should have never put it on record, he had 10 years to find that tape.”
KILLER MIKE : “This is a Black and Latino culture and art form. If you’re not sensitive to that, then your card is
gonna be pulled. I haven’t heard the song, but I’m not in favor of White men bashing Black women. I don’t think people are gonna tolerate that.”
PETEY PABLO: “It’s a shocking situation ’cause he’s always been a great MC to me and for this to be the case, he’s like Elvis. I don’t think you can really apologize for that because if you call me a Nigger, then to me, that’s always on your mind and that’s what you think about us and that’s the way you look at me.”
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson (university of Pennsylvania): “Eminem certainly needs to apologize—not just offer the excuse of his youth to deny the racist beliefs that abound. Even if he was just ‘blowing off steam’ as an angry kid, why resort to racist lyrics to denigrate his former girlfriend? His explanation fails to acknowledge the hurtful beliefs that have prevailed for centuries, beliefs that he appropriated and circulated through his lyrics. Further, he has refused to admit that such poisonous beliefs are a threat to the very music he loves, and also to the people who have been responsible for creating the culture he has benefited from, making him wealthy by his own admission.”
MALIK SHABAZZ (NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY): “There’s clearly two standards for Black and White celebrity figures when it comes to acts they have done or allegedly committed. … You have Michael Jackson allegedly molesting children and he’s being attacked with the full force of every media in the country. … You have Kobe Bryant in the same situation, but with Eminem—who is on tape making racist comments that reveal what he feels about Black people—everything is being suppressed…. He can’t be allowed to get away with a mere retraction when the evidence on him is already in.… His Black fans should remember this and it should reflect in his future record sales.”
IRV GOTTI: “I’m a person who loves Black women. I been around Black women all my life, so I’m a defender of them. What bothers me more than the actual tape is his comment that he was dating an African American woman at the time. His words are far worse than the tape. If he would have said, ‘I was freestyling, I needed something to rhyme with lack itch, I didn’t know what I was doing,’ that’s still not an excuse, but that would have been better. Knowing this is what you think of Black women—that they *****es, sluts, hos—I ain’t never gonna ride with that.”
ESHAM: “8 Mile was full of so much garbage that it was crazy. … He’s just a racist and the whole movie has racist overtones. It was fictitious and, once again, he was just using the culture and twisting it up in his own little sick way for the masses.”
LAZY LAZE (M.O.P): “White America has that same programmed disdain and lack of respect for Black people, and like a battered wife, we are just supposed to excuse it. We have to stand up for ourselves and hold people accountable for their actions, whether it’s Eminem, Bush or the Boston Red Sox—they wouldn’t sign a Black free agent till 1992!”
CRAZY LEGS (ROCK STEADY CREW): “I feel there is a huge double standard when it come to mainstream media holding people not of color accountable for their actions. If this had been someone of color, careers would have been lost by now. What Eminem has done is something that has to be taken seriously. At the same time, I feel that as a person of color, I would like to see our own people stop treating things like what he said as something that only we can do and not check each other when we do it.”
NIKKI GIOVANNI: “I’m not a fan of Eminem and it was a profound disappointment. He had to know that this was not acceptable and what he didn’t expect is that somebody would say something to him. Eminem and the White boys who want to do rap have to grow up. You are just not allowed to be a bigot. … It’s like [Eminem] floated a balloon politically, and he wanted to see who’s gonna shoot it down. Now they’re putting a spin on it like, ‘I’m sorry.’ Somehow, young, White people seem to think they can do anything and then say ‘I’m sorry.’ But that doesn’t get it. It just doesn’t get it.”
JIMMY HENCHMAN: “It would be a travesty if Eminem did not apologize to our community [of women]. As Americans, we’re entitled to The Source.… As Americans, we’re entitled to free speech by the first amendment.”
SUGE KNIGHT (CEO, DEATH ROW RECORDS) “First off, I am definitely supporting The Source on this, because they have been representing for Hip-Hop since day one. I not only fault Eminem but the people around him, who knew about this all along—including Dr. Dre. I don’t support anyone who [says they are] down with Hip-Hop and is trying to defend this racist muthafu**a. I’ve watched beefs go on in Hip-Hop where guys are ready to go to war with each other and hold grudges for years, but this is way worse and some people are ready to dismiss it. My mother is Black, my sister and my two daughters, so when he talks about Black women, there is no forgiving him.”
Putting under the microscope to respond instantly, Eminem broke his silence and acknowledged that he recorded the song at the age of 16 out of anger of a black girlfriend doing him wrong. Whats fishy about the story is that not only has this black girl never came full surface and spoke on this, but the fact that Eminem’s label Interscope wanted to sue the Source and take the legal action made it look more suspicious. Even though Eminem “apologized” for his comments, There’s still some unanswered questions about this.
This clearly got under Eminem’s skin and its evident on Encore where he sounded so unfocused, fried creativity and seemingly to be obviously drained from the beef going on. Em would go on to release mediocre diss records such as Bully before going into exile following the death of his best friend Proof. He would release songs here and there but they all lacked focus and seemingly very uninspired considering what was going on with Em’s life.
Eminem would eventually reclaim his spot among his peers in 2009-2010 by kicking his drug habit and dropping 2 number one selling albums with Relapse and Recovery. He revamped his Shady brand by signing new acts such as Yellawolf, Slaughterhouse, and currently working on his Marshall Mathers LP 2.
Benzino on the other hand would be fired from The Source magazine as well as no longer not putting out as much music. He did so happen to use his connects to restart a new magazine titled the Hip Hop Weekly which is like the Urban Gossip magazine and its performing very strongly in the magazine market. He would also star in the ratchett hit show Love and Hip Hop which added more zeros to Benzino’s bank account as well.
Neither Eminem or Benzino have squashed the issue or even approached, Neither Eminem or Benzino have squashed the issue or even approached one another as of yet, But considering the death of Eminem’s best friend Proof and Benzino getting his Boston Pass revoked, It seems that both came to a agreement to no longer engage into the war.
Vic Da Ruler