Ray Benzino is usually a private fellow, so how did he end up on the hit show "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta"? Well, like most things on the fiery reality series, it all began with controversial castmember Stevie J.
"I had a call from Stevie, I was in Miami and he was like, 'Yo, I got this artist, she's gonna be the next Nicki Minaj, but in Spanish,'" Benzino recalled when he appeared on "RapFix Live" on Wednesday (August 8).
"The next Nicki Minaj" turned out to be Stevie's artist and lover-on-the-side Joselyn Hernandez, and after Benzino went to ATL to meet Stevie and his new Barb, he himself had his heart stolen by another "LHHA" castmember: up-and-coming R&B singer Karlie Redd. It was his chance meeting with Karlie that led to a real-life date, resulting in a recurring role on the show.
"I had met Karlie off camera," ZNO confirmed. "We went on a date off camera, and there was a connection. The next thing I know I got a call from [show producer] Mona [Scott-Young]."
Scott-Young told him that he couldn't carry on an off-camera relationship with another castmate, so Benzino decided to take his relationship public by letting the cameras in. "I'm pretty much a private person when it comes to my love life, but Stevie was already in it so I said, 'Why not?' " he said.
With "Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta," fans have seen a more sensitive side of Benzino, a side drastically different from the rabble-rouser he once was in the early 2000s. After Karlie's manager suggested that the budding singer stay clear of Benzino so she wouldn't cast a negative shadow on her own career, ZNO teared up a bit.
"I'm really not the crying type," he said, "but at the end of the day I'm a human being and I got caught up in the moment and I leaked a little bit."