Being a journalist covering the hip-hop industry in the ’90s came with a can of whoop-ass and threats, precisely if the artists and producers abhorred a review or interview or were denied the cover.
This caused many hip-hop-based publications to operate with caution. Regardless, producer and media proprietor Benzino (real name Raymond Scott) claimed The Source Magazine had more muscle than other publications, sharing how he ran Jay-Z and Damon “Dame” Dash out of the Source office.
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Benzino appeared on a recent We In Miami Podcast episode published on Saturday, July 29, and shared legendary hip-hop and mob stories. When asked if rappers had tried to “press” him, he confirmed that he has had artists press him about running their ads in the zine, co-founded by David “Dave” Mays and co-owned by Benzino.
But one instance he remembers involved the “Empire State of Mind” rapper and Dame.
“This one time…Jay and Dame was complaining about a cover situation, and they came up to the Source on some rah rah s**t,” Benzino stated. “I had n***as strapped up in different rooms. They didn’t know that.”
According to Benzino, he and the Source staff wanted Dame and Jay to believe that Dave had only one person with him during the meeting.
“It starts getting loud,” Benzino continued. “N***as start coming out the rooms, and they had to get up out it.”
He clarified that Jay and Dame had about three or four people with them, and he didn’t know whether they were “strapped” or not. But he and Dave had about seven strapped people hiding in other rooms before they emerged.
Benzino added that Dame got loud, not Jay. The producer emphasized that the Source was different from other zines.
“You couldn’t press us for a cover. In my 18 years, nobody has ever pressed us for anything,” he said.
While Jay and Dame technically “pressed up” on Dave, Benzino affirmed that people knew not to play that game with him.
“If someone’s pressing up on me, that’s it. It’s war,” he said. “I’m not out here pressing up on nobody. The heavens will fall [if] you try to press up on me. Like you trying to bully me, you trying to take something from me? No, I’m the taker.
According to a ’98 article in the New York Times, rappers were guilty of attacking Black journalists, yet not white journalists, because they knew they could get away with it.
Many Black journalists and rappers mingled at the same spots, so when that artist or producer read a negative review or profile, they feel a sense of betrayal, mainly when a Black writer writes negatively about a Black artist.
Former Blaze editor Jesse Washington had been beaten numerous times and held at gunpoint for various reasons, from revealing Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie as the Madd Rapper to almost writing a negative review on Wyclef Jean.
They don’t respond to us the same way they do to mainstream media,” former XXL editor-in-chief Sheena Lester said. “They would never do what they did to Jesse to Joe Levy, the music editor at Rolling Stone. What happened with Jesse was so horrifying I couldn’t sleep. I mean, beat up in his office!”