Will Smith has faced backlash for slapping Chris Rock over a G.I. Jane 2 joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett, at the 2022 Oscars, with some of his celebrity peers condemning his behavior and the Academy launching a disciplinary review. But according to Benzino, things could’ve turned out much worse for the Fresh Prince.
During a recent sit-down with VladTV, the former Almighty RSO rapper and The Source publisher compared Will Smith assaulting Chris Rock to the events that led to Tupac Shakur‘s murder, arguing the 53-year-old Hollywood star could’ve suffered the same fate as the late All Eyez On Me rapper.
“People gotta understand, this is how 2Pac got killed,” he said. “It was at an event, they seen somebody that supposedly took a chain, they jumped him. Then later on, ‘Pac got shot up in a car. That shit could’ve happened to Will Smith!
“When I hear people say — especially women — ‘he deserved it’, I’m like, what if Will left, had gone to the party and then Will Smith’s car got shot up like 2Pac’s? Then everybody’s mourning and going crazy. No, it shouldn’t have happened. Will should have held some constraint and some professionalism, and if it was that bad, bring your wife and check him backstage.”
He added, “I know I couldn’t have got the shit slapped out of me by a man and just would’ve stood up there like that, and [Chris Rock] had his hands in his pocket. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it from Chris Rock.”
2Pac was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting while leaving the MGM Grand in Las Vegas following the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson fight on September 7, 1996. Hours before, Pac and his crew jumped Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, a Southside Compton Crip, in the hotel lobby over an alleged chain-snatching.
The 25-year-old rap icon was taken to hospital and placed on life support, but died from his injuries six days later. His murder remains unsolved to this day, although conspiracy theories surrounding the gunman’s identity continue to rage.
Before his untimely death, 2Pac coincidentally shared a close relationship with Jada Pinkett, who he met while attending the Baltimore School for the Arts in the 1980s. Will Smith later admitted their tight bond filled him with “raging jealousy.”
“In the beginning of our relationship, my mind was tortured by their connection. He was PAC! And I was me,” Smith wrote in his 2021 memoir Will. “He triggered the perception of myself as a coward. I hated that I wasn’t what he was in the world, and I suffered a raging jealousy: I wanted Jada to look at me like that.”
He continued, “If she chose me over Tupac, there was no way I could be a coward. I have rarely felt more validated… I was in a room with Tupac on multiple occasions, but I never spoke to him. The way Jada loved Pac rendered me incapable of being friends with him. I was too immature.”
As for his infamous Oscars slap, Will Smith has issued a public apology to Chris Rock and voluntarily resigned from the Academy.
“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” Smith said in a statement. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.
“I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” he added, concluding with “change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
Chris Rock, meanwhile, has yet to properly address the incident, although he briefly touched on it during a comedy set in Benzino’s hometown of Boston days after the Oscars.
“I don’t have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend,” he told the crowd. “I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”