Whether in media, or reality television, you just can’t stop Benzino
Legendary Hip-Hop figure, Raymond “Benzino” Scott has been making a name for himself since the late 1980s with the release of The Source Magazine. After leaving the company and moving away from the recording booth, Zino appeared on the popular VH1 TV series Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta. Viewers got a chance to see Benzino fall in love with his fiancée, Althea Heart and fall out of friendship with his long-time friend, Stevie J. Zino is back to finish his story and set the record straight about his new life with Althea, business ventures, and his road to living life happily.
Parlé Mag: How is your life going with your engagement and the new baby?
Benzino: The baby is doing good. Thi Thi and I just wrapped up shooting Marriage Bootcamp. We are just trying to work on each other and just trying to work to get our relationship to where it needs to be. Life is good for me.
Parlé Mag: On your last reality show, Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta, we saw you end a longtime friendship with Stevie J and it seemed like your story wasn’t told completely. On The Next 15, what your overall objective with being on the show?
Benzino: Stevie and I just spoke and made up. We hugged it out a couple weeks ago, so everything is good. It felt good talking to my brother again. He and I have a lot of history so just like family; you go through your good and times. If it is a true family, you will come back around. The Next 15 came after Marriage Bootcamp and it is a huge breath of fresh air after Love and Hip-Hop. It focuses on me as an individual even though there are six castmates. The show focuses on our individual careers. This show was truly a God send.
Parlé Mag: You helped start The Source Magazine, now you have Hip-Hop Weekly. What are your thoughts on the magazine business currently?
Benzino: Of course, you know my partner Dave and I started The Source magazine back in 1988. It was a different time and era. I think we were on the forefront of covering Hip-Hop before social media. If you had to get your information about Hip-Hop, you had to go to The Source. We had The Source Awards, which was a major event. We accomplished a lot when we were with The Source. Everything was different back then. Now with the influx of social media and everything happening so fast, people are getting their news and information fast. To have a magazine that comes out every 30 days is just a little bit too late. With that, Hip-Hop Weekly is published every two weeks. There is a lot of short reading, more pictures, but it covers the whole spectrum of Hip-Hop, TV, and movies. We do not get into the politics of Hip-Hop like we did with The Source Magazine because again that was a different era where you could get into politics. Now, we just focus on the entertainment side. Hip-Hop Weekly is doing really well and we are just trying to grow it.
Parlé Mag: Where do you see that things have gone wrong as far as Hip-Hop is concerned since you were heavy in the industry? What do you think is missing?
Benzino: I think how corporations have taken over and social media are to blame. Social media is a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because people can put their music out, but the curse is we are in a trending type of culture now. People are followers and they don’t have a choice. More and more people are following what the trends are as opposed to trying to bring new music and artists. People just say, “well I’m going to like him because everyone else does.” I think that Hip-Hop has always been about freedom of choice and I think that has gotten diluted.
Parlé Mag: How is the relationship with your family after the shooting incident and have you been able to move on?
Benzino: I don’t think I can ever really get past that and it was an unfortunate situation. I never really got to see my mother go as I should have. It did affect me. I’ve been through a lot in life and I’ve always managed to pull myself together and just keep moving positively. That’s where I am with it. I try not to dwell on the past and I don’t live with regrets. Every day is a new day and every sun is a new life. I am just blessed to be here because that situation could have gone really bad, but God gave me another chance. I take that for what it is; I got another chance at life. I do not take it for granted. With saying that, I have a responsibility to be a better person than I was, right all my wrongs and correct anything that I may not have been doing correctly in Gods’ eyes. I think that experience has made me a better person. I don’t think anyone could ever get over being shot by their nephew. At the end of the day, I’m still here to talk about it. You have guys out there in much worse positions and it’s unfortunate. That was back then and I’ve moved on. So much has happened since then and I’m very proud of myself as far as where I’m at in my life.
Parlé Mag: Tell us a little more about your new business ventures and your aspirations from here.
Benzino: I have always loved cooking. I would always cook for the guys when they would come over to the house. I’m from Boston, so of course seafood is a part of me. When I was 10-years-old, my father would grab a U-Haul truck and ride around the projects and sell crabs and corn. I just developed a few sauces for crab dipping. I didn’t think Georgia had anything like that down here. Once I starting selling them, it has been a non-stop success. People come from all over to visit my restaurant and try the crabs. I plan to open my second restaurant this Spring in Camp Creek, GA. Eventually, I want to franchise them and get my sauce in the stores. It is a dream of mine.
Catch Benzino on The Next 15, Wednesdays at 9/8c. on TV One.