NEW YORK — Lloyd Banks has been promoting his sophomore solo LP so heavily that the G-Unit member says Rotten Apple will prevent him from returning to the Big Apple.
"I don't plan on coming home," Banks said recently. "I speak to my mother long-distance. But I don't have any kids or a wife, so I don't have to fly back to New York every chance I get. I'm a rolling stone. I get a rush being onstage. My goal is to clock over 150 shows this year."
During his Hunger for More tour, Banks did 150 shows over the course of a year and a half.
"I developed that hunger to be onstage and take over the stage," he said.
Banks has been performing three new songs on tour — and his album isn't even out yet (it's been bumped from its July 18 release and will appear sometime later this summer). He just leaked a new record, "Hands Up," which will be Rotten Apple's first single. Before that, he dropped two records around the same time: "Cake" and "My House."
" 'My House' is a Timbaland-produced track," he said. "I'm getting ready to work with Timbaland again during crunch time before the album comes out. He just makes new music, it sounds like no other music out there. That's what I'm trying to keep. I want to keep my sound new. I don't want people to know who did the beat as soon as they hear the first five seconds of [it]. 'My House,' it's kinda like [Rev] Run did it. 'Whose houuuse? Run's houuuse!' It means whatever it applies to. If I'm at a concert, this is my house. If I'm playing ball, this is my house. Whatever I do, I'm in control. It's a good performance record."
Before deciding on "Hands Up," "My House" was originally intended to be Banks' official leadoff single, because he felt it would be radio-friendly. "Cake" is more of an underground type of song.
" 'Cake' is uncut raw," he added. "If you hear it on radio, you might hear more than a few words bleeped out.
"I don't usually use the heavily sampled record where the hook is already there," he continued about "Cake," "but the hook just kinda grabbed me the way 'Warrior' did. I think I was overseas when I did ['Cake']. I wrote it in 20 minutes, then I snatched 50 [Cent] up for it."
50 appears on "My House" and "Hands Up" as well. As you'd guess, the rest of the G-Unit family is on Banks' LP as well, but Boy Wonder did look beyond his camp for more guest spots.
"Outside the crew, I got Scarface on the album, 8Ball, Rakim," he revealed. "I'm going in on this project. I'm going to show them my lyrical capability. It doesn't hurt to have those legends stand beside me. I been listening to Rakim since I was a baby, as well as Scarface and 8ball. I was in junior high school, elementary school listening to these artists.
"[Rotten Apple] is not officially closed out yet," he continued. "I got some big things in the making right now. On the production side, I have Eminem again. He produced a track. Timbaland [and Mobb Deep's] Havoc did 'Rotten Apple,' which is the opening track. I got a couple from Ron Browse. I got a 'Playboy' part two. The rest of the producers, I really don't know the names, that's how new [they] are. ... I'm pretty sure their names will be out after this album comes out."
Banks says he cheated a little bit while recording the LP over the past two years. Since he was laying off the mixtape circuit, a lot of the rhymes he would have used solely for the streets make up Rotten Apple.
"I was taking all the material that would have been on the mixtapes, and I was using it for my actual album," he explained. "Nowadays, it's hard to mix the two. If you listen to radio, a lot of it is R&B. So I wanted to still have the hit records, the commercial records, but at the same time, I was focusing on putting those mixtape verses on the songs that would be appearing on radio. Just to add a different feel to it. A lot of the grimy street material actually went onto my album. My album is really street-based."
Banks, who just released the street CD Mo' Money in the Bank Pt. 4 a few weeks ago, says he took a self-imposed break from mixtapes because he was starting to hear that the G-Unit were saturating the market. As it turns out, during his mixtape hiatus, he kept hearing people saying he should come back out on the circuit, especially when G-Unit were beefing with the Game, D-Block and Fat Joe. They wanted to hear his battle raps.
Now that Banks is coming out with an official LP, he says he's heard whispers about a G-Unit backlash, especially in the wake of Mobb Deep's highly hyped album not delivering the vastly improved SoundScan numbers they predicted signing to G-Unit Records would bring.
"Nah," Banks said about whether the backlash is real. "It happens with all the artists. It happened with Jay-Z, LL Cool J. They love you then hate you and love you again. With that pressure, it's fun. It's not like the competition is putting pressure [on me]. The competition is [with] yourself. People want you to outdo yourself. That's the biggest challenge: Outdo what I did with a bigger impact. Hey, this is what I get paid for. If it is a backlash, I haven't felt it. If the people feel that way, it's my job to turn their opinions around."