Interview: Eminem’s Former Bodyguard Describes Alleged Incidents With Suge Knight & Death Row Records
Eminem’s former Bodyguard, Byron “Big Naz” Williams, 46, claims that Suge Knight tried to “disrupt” Dr. Dre’s success, which included intimidating Eminem. After this story initially broke on Murder Master Music Show, VIBE caught up with Williams to get the scoop on Knight’s alleged beef with Em and his book Shady Bizzness: Life as Eminem’s Bodyguard in an Industry of Paper Gangsters.
VIBE: Tell us about Shady Bizzness: Life as Eminem’s Bodyguard in an Industry of Paper Gangsters.
Williams: The book came out back in 2000. So, the book is actually 17-years-old. I’ve written a couple new editions since then. It’s the first book written on Eminem, and it chronicles the life of a bodyguard and an artist on the road. When I wrote the book, it was never my intention to attack Eminem. But we had a falling out financially — and I decided to write the book to recoup some of the money that I lost. But it was never an attempt to demean him. Because we were like brothers, man. I love that cat.
How’d you meet Eminem?
I came into the picture when “My Name Is” was blowing up. When his manager initially called me I turned it down. They were like, “just give it a try,” and I did. I worked with him on a Friday night and some stuff jumped off. Some guy tried to get at him, and I laid him out. And they were like: “Man, we want you to go on tour with us.” One of the reasons I took the job is because I’m a music producer on the side, and I really took the job as a ride to get closer to the music execs. But while working with him, the music thing took a back seat — because I was more concerned with protecting his life.
You left Eminem’s camp over a financial dispute. Have you tried to reconcile with Em since leaving? To some people, it may look like you’re looking for publicity.
I don’t want to give away too much because all of this is in the book. But yes, I’ve been trying to reconcile. Money comes and goes. I looked at the guy as a friend. I hope we can be friends again. I respect them guys. With the book, I never tried to cut him down. Actually, I showed him as a human being. I told a lot of the bad stuff that I did, too. The last time I tried to reconcile with him was at Proof’s funeral. I talked to his people. But you known how it is. People tried to put me in the situation like I was a Suge Knight.
So, what was Suge Knight’s beef with Em?
At that time, Dre’s Aftermath brand was new. And Dre was eating again. Death Row was falling and [Suge wanted] to stop Dre’s money. And that’s what that was, man.
What happened at The Source Awards?
It was not pretty. Here’s the thing, none of us seen that coming. We go to The Source Awards thinking we safe. We ain’t got nothing to do with Dre’s beef. That’s what Em is thinking. That’s what everybody is thinking. But he goes to sit down in his seat, and it’s a sea of red shirts around him talking about, “Death Row, mutherf*cker, Death Row, motherf*cker. Suge sent [goons] to disrupt this sh*t. And that’s when we realized that we were in the middle of the beef. That was 1999.
Can you describe Em’s reaction?
Em stood his ground. He ain’t no bitch, man. It got to the point where we standing in the middle, we have to throw these things, man. And that’s how it was. When it jumped off, the bodyguards were not allowed to sit with their client. You had to sit off to the side. It left room to where if you had beef with someone you can get at them, because the bodyguards is off to the side. But we were close enough to where we could get to our client. But we snatched him up out of there and coordinated with The Source security to get him backstage.
Did you guys eventually talk it out with Death Row?
Man, that was just one of many incidents. There was one in Hawaii. Every time Dre tried to do something Suge tried to break it up. Don’t believe me, call Honolulu police. We all had our family, wives and kids with us. We get there and they open up the plane doors, it’s the police. They’re like: “Y’all need to come with us. Death Row is here. It’s a bunch of them.” So, now everybody had to grab their family, wife and kids and go into survival mode. We got in the van, and ain’t nobody talking. Everybody putting on their bullet proof vests, loading their guns. It was crazy.
Look, all those stories are in the book. I don’t want to give all this away. But Em is my brother, man. And, it’s not about me trying to talk down on him.
Shady Bizzness: Life as Eminem’s Bodyguard in an Industry of Paper Gangsters can be purchased over at Amazon.com.