Dre, what was your reaction to hearing the Benzino diss track?
Dr. Dre: I just couldn’t believe that he’d make a record considering that they never met. Immediately I was just like, “Ah, this is some bullshit.” Somebody trying to ride on our coattails ‘cause they have a record coming out.”
On his lastest volley, “Die Another Day,” Benzino turns his attack from one of skills to one of race...
Eminem: And on the first record he said it wasn’t a Black and White thing! He’s going through a midlife crisis, and it’s sad. I feel bad for him. His time has run out as a rapper, and he knows it. It’s gotta be tough.
Dr. Dre: And then you gotta think about the people that buy The Source magazine. Is he saying that White people shouldn’t buy The Source?
50 Cent: If he doesn’t want to sell to White people, then he shouldn’t try to sell records as a hip-hop artist.
Eminem: The Source was started by two White guys: Jonathan Schecter and Dave Mays. I don’t even want to drag Jon into this, so I won’t get into why he left, but obviously there were things that he saw up that that he didn’t like. So Benzino came in and took over his half of the magazine and started putting only people that he liked in the magazine. But really, him pulling the race card is just…I mean, he’s half-White! But second of all, if I’m not mistaken, a White man writes his checks. Which is interesting, because a Black man writes mine. So when you really think about it, it gets more and more ridiculous. It’s like the deeper you delve into it, the more ridiculous the whole thing is. But now it’s done. The best way to get back at someone is to ignore him. This guy tried to bring D12 into this, but they couldn’t believe that I’d even acknowledge him by making a record. Sometimes I left my emotions get the best of me. But battling is my instinct because I came from the underground. And let’s not forget that. When Dre heard my tape it was because of my success in that scene—battling. I was fine being the only White person in the spot and battling for everything I got. I think nowadays, people sometimes forget that. [D12 rapper] Kon Artis was saying to me the other day, “Remember when you used to work at Gilbert’s and flip burgers, you was always comin’ into work mad and punching walls and shit. And you’d be saying that the reason that you can’t get a deal was because you were White. If you were Black it would be easier. Now you finally got a deal, and you really flipped the cards that were dealt to you.” See, in the beginning I couldn’t get a deal because of my race—the hand that I was dealt—but I flipped it and made something out of it. Now it’s, “I’m selling records because I’m White.” And it’s funny, because if you listen to my records, I talk about it all the time. In “White America” I openly say that the reason that I’m selling so many records is because I’m White. But really, even though that is one of the attributes that helps me to sell, at the end of the day, I work really hard. I stay in the studio and…
Dr. Dre: The records are fuckin’ good. That’s what it is. The records are hot, so they sell.
Dre, what do you think about Benzino’s claim that Eminem is the reason that artists like Busta Rhymes and Fat Joe have experienced disappointing album sales?
Dr. Dre: That’s all bullshit. I’ve sold a lot of records. Did I keep other artists from eating? 50’s about to come out and sell a couple million too. I mean, c’mon. That whole shit is just his way of trying to get people to go to the record store and buy his record. That’s all it is.
In an interview in The Source a few months ago, Ja Rule made the following statement: “If you’re gonna be authorizing [50 Cent] to spew records on me, then I wanna do what I gotta do to take your company under. And that goes for Dre, Em or whoever.” What was your reaction to that?
Eminem: First of all, me and Dre didn’t realize that we need to consult with Ja Rule and Irv Gotti on all of our business moves. Second, I’m gonna tell you some real shit, and that man cannot deny any of it. During the end of the tour for The Eminem Show, I was waiting to get off my bus and get onto a jet, and Ja was getting off the jet. And it was me and [D12 rapper] Bizarre and one of my security guys. Bizzy gets on and says, “Yo, Ja’s out there. You wanna holla at him?” So I came up to him on some humble shit and said, “What’s up Ja? What’re you trying to get into?” And he was like, “Shit, just about to swallow this pill.” Took it right in front of me. Basically he was like, “I’m about to go to this club keep doing your thing.” Now, we had already signed 50 at that point, I was basically saying, “What’s up?” to be cool about the situation. And to see that if there was a problem, if he was going to address it. He said nothing to me about it.
Then, two weeks later that issue of The Source came out, and I see what he said. At first I was confused, like, “How long does it take for them to print a magazine?” If he had a problem with me signing 50 Cent, why didn’t he address it that night? Now all of a sudden he’s got an album coming out and it’s a problem?
It’s funny because the night of the [MTV] Video Music Awards, the article had come out, but I didn’t see it ‘till the next day. So at one point, I’m going down the stairs and he’s coming up the stairs and we almost cross paths. I’m thinking it’s all good, so I’m trying to look make a little eye contact and say, “What up?” He had his head to the floor and he walked straight up the steps. I was kinda confused ‘till the next day when I read the article. Then I was like, “Oh, I see, he put it out there in the article, so now he has to play it up for the public.”
50, can you clarify the whole thing? What’s the real problem between you and Ja?
50: We had a fight and that was all it was. He had eight people there, and I walked away with his jewelry. All of my runs with him have been minor. No one’s been hurt seriously, we just don’t get along. Like in the incident in the Hit Factory. Whenever I talk about this subject, I get off Ja real quickly because he’s just not relevant to the situation. It’s never gonna be him, it’s always gonna be the people around him. Irv would like to be a gangsta, his success as a musician just isn’t enough for him. He wants to be something he’s not. I mean, just look at the name Murder Inc. He’d like to portray that image. And as his finances have progressed, that may allow him to feel that way. But I’m not a thrill-seeker. When I was in the street, I really felt that was my only option. That’s why I feel so blessed to be in the situation that I’m in now.
What happened in the Hit Factory back in March 2000?
50 Cent: It’s funny, it happened seven days before they released the first Murderers album. It was like, “We’re gonna step to 50, ‘cause it’ll look good. We’ll stab him.” My baby’s mother has stabbed me worse than that! I’m gonna be honest with you, I left that situation with three stitches. That’s a cut. It stopped bleeding on its own. And then they play up that whole thing about the lights going out, like it was a gangsta situation.
Ja Rule and Irv Gotti were recently on the Star & Buc Wild Morning Show and they claimed to have produced an order of protection filed by yourself against Irv and his brother, Chris.
50 Cent: When were they saying that? Seven days before they dropped The Last Temptation.
Eminem: It’s funny, because I heard a little drop through the grapevine about a month before, that they were gonna start spreading rumors that there was a police report from when that situation at the Hit Factory had went down that said that 50 was dropping names. Then it changed from that into an order of protection. 50 Cent: What’s crazy is that the first time I ever heard of that scenario, I was in Detroit. Em was telling me what was going to happen in New York a month later! I could have easily gone to a library and copied some documents all blurry and put Ja’s name in there, to make people think something…But I just think that they’re clowns for even attempting it.
On the latest Murder Inc. lyrical attack ["The Real Wanksta," leaked to mixtape DJs in December], Black Child talks about stabbing you, and then names an arresting officer–William Fitzgerald of the 234th precinct–and insists that you snitched.
50 Cent: It’s just funny to me that they’d make stuff like that up. The beef itself is not wrestling, but the tactics that they’re using are wrestling. First of all, Crack Child, he doesn’t exist. He can’t make a record that makes a person want to hear him rap, so he doesn’t count. Now Ja—me and him have differences. He makes records that are good enough to sell some records. The only reason that I’d speak about him on a record is because he’s an artist—a pop artist. I would personally whoop his ass if he’d like. We could squash this right now and go out back and shoot the fair one. Maybe Irv can come back too. I’ll whip the skin off Irv.
Eminem: It’s always the people at the bottom that try and pull you down into that bullshit. Somebody who feels like their album is in danger of not selling too well or something. Honestly, artists like myself, 50 and Dr. Dre—we don’t need to do promotional stunts to sell our records.
50 Cent: But you know, it works both ways. If you think that the only way to build excitement around your record is to say things about me, then great. That’s just more people talking about me. Thanks.
Eminem: What these people have done has turned out to be reverse promotion. Because they spent their whole time on the air talking about 50…I don’t know, do I owe them money for that?
50 Cent: This is the best thing that ever happened to me. This’ll be the best beef I ever handle. See, it’s the difference when you got beef and you ain’t got finances. ‘Knawmean? You sit back, they got all the money. That’s when you get hit. ‘Cause they got money to spend and you ain’t got none. But now the tables is turning and it’s a big difference. And now they’re getting uncomfortable. I’m coming from the position on the board where it was, “You lose. You lose. You lose. ‘Cause you don’t have no finances.” Now it’s like, “You could win. Depends on how you play your hand.” So I’m in a better space. That’s why they jump off with the situation. Since I got signed, I said nothing about Ja Rule. And then they went on the radio and said all that. It made them uncomfortable to know that I had this new situation.
Dre, you haven’t been dragged into this Murder Inc. beef or the Benzino beef. How do you keep yourself from getting embroiled?
Dr. Dre: To tell you truth, I don’t give a fuck about any of it.
50 Cent: If they’re smart at all, they won’t say anything about Dr. Dre. People that disrespect Dre come back eventually to try and make it OK, ‘cause he’s gonna consistently make hit records.
Dr. Dre: And that’s all I wanna do. I wanna make muthafuckin’ records. I don’t care about none of that bullshit. Straight up. I’m healthy. I’m rich as a muthafucka. What the fuck do I need that in my life for?