Whether it’s his appearance on the reality TV show, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, or his infamous beef with Boston rapper, Eminem, the American rapper, Benzino, is a name hip hop and music fans will be familiar with. He is one of the few names in the industry who have done it all, from performing to running the business side of things.
Having spent more than three decades working in the industry, Benzino’s career is full of a myriad of highs and lows. And considering he is more known today for his appearances on the VH1 reality TV series, it is worth revisiting the achievements and accolades that once made Benzino a household name.
He Began His Career At 21
At 21, most people are still figuring out their lives, and in some cases, just leaving college. But Raymond Scott, now known as Benzino, was starting a music career that would go on to span more than three decades. He first became the principal of a hip hop and entertainment magazine, The Source, a magazine that still exists to date.
His actual music career began in 1986, as a founder of the rap group, Almighty RSO. At the time, he rapped under the stage name, Ray Dog. One of his early career achievements was winning the ICA B-Town Rap Battle, lighting the match for the rap group’s success. Two years later, in 1991, they released their first single titled We’re Notorious.
As their activity increased, so did their fame among Boston locals. In 1991, Benzino and Almighty RSO signed on to Tommy Boy Records. They released their debut EP, Revenge of da Badd Boyz in 1994. The EP included a highly controversial single, One in the Chamba, which criticized the killing of two Boston youths by the police.
Thanks to the EP, Benzino recorded his first charting project, reaching #97 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums. After the mild success of the project, Benzino and Almighty RSO joined Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit, appearing on the album, Rollin’ With The Flavor.
Benzino and Almighty RSO were not together for long after that, but it wasn’t before they released a second project in 1996. The LP, Doomsday: Forever RSO, which peaked at #52 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it his second charting project. The LP contained his first charting single; You Could Be My Boo, which peaked at #10 on the Hot Rap Song chart.
Two years after the LP was released, the Boston-born rapper parted ways with the group, and formed another group, Made Men.
Benzino’s Continous Success & Solo Music Career
Benzino, in 1998, formed another group, Made Men. The group consisted of himself, Antonio Twice Thou, and Cool Gsus. The group was first introduced to the world in DJ Clue’s debut album, The Professional. A year after coming together, they released their first album, Classic Limited Edition, under Restless Records, peaking at #61 on the Billboard 200. It was the first Billboard 200 appearance in Benzino’s career. The album also reached #9 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Despite a total of six years as a group, Mad Men released only one album and only made a few guest appearances on other projects by other artists. Eventually, they parted ways in 2004, three years after Benzino launched his solo career.
He released his debut album, The Benzino Project, in 2001, under Motown Records. The album features appearances from major acts like Snoop Dogg and Puff Daddy. The album received positive critical reviews and reached #84 on the Billboard 200 and #24 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. One of the album’s singles, Bootee, reached #70 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, however, had moderate sales, selling 75,000 copies in its first week.
Despite the somewhat disappointing solo start, Benzino continued releasing new works. His second studio album, Redemption, released in 2003 under Elektra Records, was more successful and is still his highest-charting album to date.
Redemption peaked at #31 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #65 on the Billboard 200 chart. Aside from selling 20,000 units in its first week, the album also produced the hit single, Rock The Party, which peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his highest-charting single to date. It also sold 450,000 copies in its first week. The single’s popularity gave it a feature on the 2002 Jason Statham film, The Transporters, and 2002 film, I Spy.
Since the album was released, Benzino has released two more studio albums, Arch Nemesis and The Antidote. In total, the rapper’s discography consists of four studio albums, four collaboration albums, and seven mixtapes. His most recent work, Welcome to Texaco City with OJ da Juiceman, was released in 2015. But music is just a fraction of the career achievements that have made the Boston entertainer into a household name.
Founding Hip-Hop Weekly & His Reality TV Career
We mentioned earlier that Benzino was part of a hip-hop magazine in the early days of his career. The Source, which was founded by David Mays, a longtime friend, became one of the most popular hip hop magazines in the industry, covering music and politics. The magazine further expanded to French, Latino, and Japanese versions.
However, following a series of controversies, including his longstanding beef with Eminem, Mays and Benzino were forced out of the company in 2006 by its private equity investors, Black Enterprise/Greenwich Street Corporate Growth Partners.
The same year, the duo founded another hip-hop focused magazine known as Hip Hop Weekly. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the magazine publishes 26 issues per year. The magazine has been a success, winning Best Urban Magazine from the Urban Music Awards, three years in a row. Benzino and May’s magazine also gets credited for identifying a host of mainstream artists like Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and August Alsina.
The duo has since sold the magazine to a private investor for an undisclosed amount. Beyond his accomplishments in music journalism, Benzino’s career also includes achievements on TV. He has appeared on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, The Next: 15, Hollywood Hearts, Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, and the show, Soul Train.
The Artist Has Had A Moderate Financial Success
One would have expected Benzino’s longrunning career to put him among one of hip hop’s wealthiest personalities. But after three decades in the industry, the rapper has a mild net worth of $500,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
His modest wealth comes from his music earnings and publishing career, which are two of the most significant accomplishments. He also owns different properties and flashy cars, which include an Acura TLX, and many others.
Did You Know Benzino Has Never Been Married?
The closest the Boston rapper has come to marriage was an engagement to a fellow Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta star, Althea Heart. How exactly long they were together is unknown, but the relationship produced a baby boy, Zino Antonio, who was born on November 10, 2015.
Before the birth of Zino, Benzino reportedly fathered two children, a son named Taj and a girl named Brittany, neither of whom were born to a woman he was married to. The identity of their mother also remains unknown, but the rapper maintains a close relationship with the children.