Ray Benzino
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me,’ I was like, ‘Nah, I can’t do this,’ because it was like I felt that I had showed everything. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but at the end of the day, you know, you move on. You know what I’m saying? I mean, Karlie, I have nothing bad to say about Karlie, and who knows what the future holds?

EBONY: Are you guys still talking?

Benzino:Yeah.

EBONY: OK. So it could happen?

Benzino:Yeah. I think we moved fast anyways. And then with the cameras it was like … I mean, look at all the relationships that are put together on TV, it’s not easy to keep ‘em together. And then with the cameras, it’s an added pressure.

EBONY:Love and Hip Hop Atlanta is like a soap opera. And the ratings were just astronomical for VH-1. Did the success of the show surprise you?

Benzino: Oh definitely. It still hasn’t sunk in. I go to Krogers, this girl fell out on the floor and rolled around and the guys there were helping her up and she’s panting. Or I’m in New York, girls are crying, taking pictures, running in the middle of the street while I’m in the cab trying to take a picture. Then I’m noticing older women, 50s, 60s … I mean, it’s just surreal.

EBONY: The market is flooded with reality shows. Why do you think this one has resonated like this?

Benzino: Well, first of all, Stevie brought a situation to reality TV that’s never been on reality TV. He brought his triangle, his love of two women.

EBONY: Which was pretty bold and brazen for him to do that …

Benzino:That’s what I’m saying! It really hadn’t been done, but at the end of the day you’re gonna deal with what comes along with that, on and off the camera. I think Stevie being the colorful character that he is … was just a great character for the show. I think Mama D and Scrappy and Erica, I think their situation was a great situation, especially being that they’re from Atlanta. Of course, Kirk and Rasheeda, just to show that bond of marriage and what they go through as far as manager and his artist. Even the situation between K. Michelle and Karlie, that’s just nonstop energy. And I try to give my voice of reason.

EBONY: I’ll give you that. And that’s the exact opposite of what we’d expect from a rapper …

Benzino: Or Benzino!

EBONY: Or Benzino! Tell us about this side of yourself. Last time we talked, you were pretty angry. Not reasonable like you are today …

Benzino: I just evolved as a person. I was angry.  I probably didn’t express myself all the time in the right way. My mother and father raised me well. Granted, I had my little revolutionary side, my angry side, and I look back at it now and a lot of it was unnecessary. I just evolved as a person and I learned. I learned that I’m not the only one on this earth and the things that I do and say affect other people. I was ashamed of myself looking back. I can say that. I’ve made mistakes, but I’m on a whole new path, a whole new outlook on life.

EBONY: Any reason for the shift?

Benzino: No, it’s just a natural … just me naturally evolving as a man and as a human being that wants to coexist with other human beings without violence, without fighting, without arguing, without negative energy.

EBONY: Tell me something about your friend Stevie J. that isn’t so obvious to us from watching TV.

Benzino: That he’s a God-fearing man. He comes to his family’s church, because his father, I think, is a preacher.

EBONY: Really?

Benzino: Yeah! He’s a great father to his kids, a terrific father. He’s a really good basketball player. And he plays every instrument – guitar, keyboard, bass, drums. Of course he came up in the church playing music. He’s basically a genius when it comes to the music side. As far as what you see with the faces and everything, like Stevie, yeah. He believes that sometimes that he was anointed, you know what I’m saying? That it’s all about him. He’s a star when the cameras are off.

EBONY: Is that right?

Benzino:Yeah. But he’s a good dude, man. He’s a great dude, a positive dude. He doesn’t really like a lot of negative energy. I know what people see on the camera could be deemed as negative energy, but it’s just a man that fell in love with two women. As bad as that might sound, it happens a lot. And I’m sure there’s women that fell in love with two men. We are human beings and we are programmed to love. If you’re at home with your spouse and you’re going to