Artist: Lloyd BanksLloyd Banks
Representing: The G-UnitThe G-Unit
Mixtape: Halloween Havoc
411: There's a lot of things Lloyd Banks wants to be the king of, but he doesn't want to be known as the best in one hip-hop category.
"I don't want people to talk about me and say, 'Lloyd Banks can dance his ass off!' " the Punch Line King joked, sitting in 50 Cent50 Cent's office in the Manhattan G-Unit headquarters.
Of course, Banks wants to be heralded for his lyricism — killing bars, if you will. After a hiatus from solo mixtapes preceding his Rotten Apple run, the former Mixtape Artist of the Year has a renewed commitment to the circuit. Yeah, 50 had Banks and Tony YayoTony Yayo churning out verses on three Unit mixtapes earlier this year, but Banks says he's going it alone for the next few months with his own street-CD series.
"I figured I'd give them both quality and quantity," he said. "I'll do it at a pace as nobody has ever before.
"I was testing the waters," he continued, talking about his technique of releasing a freestyle every other day in anticipation of last month's Return of the P.L.K. mixtape with DJ Whoo Kid. "I wanted to do something new. Instead of giving them a whole tape, I wanted to give it to them broken up. A freestyle Monday, Wednesday, then Friday. Let the weekend chill, hit them back again Monday. I did that for about four weeks until people said, 'When's the tape coming?' I knew what I was doing. I was working at such a fast pace, I wanted to judge what I should do next from their reaction."
Banks said he heard nothing but love from the fans but had a mixed reaction from the bloggers.
"I was like, 'OK, you're not hearing nothing else until Halloween,' " he explained. "I finished the tape on October 27, because I was flying back and forth. I was actually in Chile when the tape came out. It went through Whoo Kid, and it came out the right way. I'm on automatic pilot right now. I'm gonna just drill you until you understand. Nobody is gonna step up to this plate. This is how I spar. I just feel like at the rate I'm putting this stuff out, there's no way they're gonna be able to deny me in '09."
Banks has been keeping his ears tuned into the underground circuit as always. He listed Charles Hamilton, Joe BuddenJoe Budden and Philadelphia's Reed Dollar, Gillie da Kid and Young Chris as cats on his radar. He also wants to work with Jadakiss and Fabolous.
More than 100 songs for his third solo album have been recorded, but there's no timetable for the release. He has to figure out his contractual situation. 50's deal is up with Interscope, and the Unit will go with him, wherever he ends up. Yayo, however, owes the 'Scope one more album.
"When all this corny stuff is out of here, they're gonna respect me for staying who I am," Banks noted about the hip-hop climate. "Not compromising me or my music to blend in with the times. I wanna make the times."
Joints To Check For
"Party and Bullsh--." "That's the first time I heard Biggie," Banks said about using the instrumental from the throwback Notorious B.I.G.Notorious B.I.G. jam. "That's why I did it. I had my little radio, and I'd be missing school because of Stretch & Bobbito's [radio show on] WKCR. Listening to them, I used to hear that record. That's back when Jay-ZJay-Z was freestyling with Big L. Rest in peace. That always stuck in my head. I sat and thought about it [when making this tape]. I was like, 'Let me bring it back with this.' That's my tribute to B.I.G. My all-time favorite. That's why I started the tape off with that."
"Shine Through." "The J-Rock record 'All My Life,' I did that over," Banks said. "I saw the video, heard the song. I said, 'I like this right here.' I'm not biased towards anybody. If I like the music, I'll put my twist to it. It was something I did for me. My grandmother just passed of cancer. I was kinda dealing with that since my pops passed. It was one thing after the next. When she finally passed, it was hard for me. I wanted to find a way to express myself through the music. That's what I did, as well as pay tribute to the homies that are gone. I'm 26 years old now. But when I got my deal, me and my homies was running wild. Unfortunately, I was the only one who could rap. I didn't really have the finances to hold up my whole crew at that point when I'm 19 years old. I lost a lot of friends, as well as family. I wanted to dedicate that to them. That record means a lot to me."
"Beneath Me." "How you gonna put me in a category that came on the train when it was moving?" Banks says about a line in the song, in which he implores people to not compare him to two of his former G-Unit mates. Game caught the train in L.A. Buck caught the train in Cashville. "That's smacking me [in the face] for everything I did," he said about his loyalty and long tenure with the Unit. "I worked hard at this. I had to get from a point when they was calling me 50 on mixtapes."
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» Crooked I - The Block Obama 2
» DJ 31 Degreez and Fabolous - Mr. Fab
» DJ 4Sho - Yes We Can
» DJ Skee and Evidence - The Layover Mixtape
» Mick Boogie and DJ Treats - Leaders of the New Cool
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» CommonCommon - "Changes"
» Crooked I - "Sunshine"
» JadakissJadakiss (featuring Max B) - "When I Grow Up"
» Jay-Z - "History"
» MGMT (featuring Jim Jones) - "Electric Feel" remix
» Sheek LouchSheek Louch - "I Like It"
» Styles PStyles P (featuring Snyp Life) - "Fly Like an Eagle"
» T-PainT-Pain (featuring Justin TimberlakeJustin Timberlake) - "Can't Believe It" remix
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
We had a chance to chop it up with 50 Cent a couple of times last week. First, in Queens at the opening of his community garden, then we sat for quite some time in his Manhattan office.
There should be no doubting Fif right now. He thinks he can smash the game and promises those Eminem verses he has on Before I Self Destruct are going to hit you harder than a bulldozer. The duo have a record called "Norman Bates Motel," and you can guess what's going on in the song from its title: pure anarchy.
Sha Money XL and Tony Yayo tipped us off to another record that might even surpass that one. It's an untitled (as in, nobody wants to say the name of the song right now) Dr. DreDr. Dre joint that Fif snatched from Em's hard drive.
"I did a song produced by Dr. Dre," 50 said. "I got the production from Detroit, because Dre was working with Em right before I got out there. I just missed him. I went through Em's computer and found what I needed. Yes, I did. I got me the record I needed. I was like, 'Wait till they hear this.' I wrote it; Em heard it. He was like, 'You gotta keep that for yourself. This is too crazy.' First, I think he was gonna take it from me, then he was like, 'He gotta use that for himself.' "
As far as the G-Unit goes, you already heard about Lloyd Banks' next album, Yayo is dropping sometime next year, and don't forget: Young BuckYoung Buck told us on the set of Young JeezyYoung Jeezy's "Who Dat" video that he was personally talking to people about being bought out of his G-Unit contract.
What does the G-Unit General have to say about that? "Those offers aren't real offers," 50 scoffed. "I would be the one to receive the offers, not him. It's just people making conversation with him in the street. But if they actually had interest, I'd be the first person they'd contact. And I haven't been contacted by anybody."
50 is looking for some new talent ("I'll just look until I find somebody who I'm passionate enough to go all the way with," he said). Might that be the stylistically deadly Corey Gunz? He's young, lyrical and doesn't have a label.
"Corey, I met with his father," 50 said of possibly bringing the Gunner into the Unit. "They have a great relationship with Shaq. It was a long time ago. We sat down, he came to my office, and we talked about it. I told him I wished him the best of luck. He did a song with Tony Yayo recently on the S.O.D. mixtape, and since then, [the streets] been saying I've signed him."
"I didn't hear about that," Corey said about doing business with the Unit. "I know Yayo and them are definitely family. There's some Corey Gunz things under construction. I'm working with After Platinum — that's my family outta Arizona. We're really grinding and trying to find the right situation. But Yayo is definitely my family. Working with him is crazy. Shout-out to the whole G-Unit. Banks is my man. 50 already knows what it is. That's my people. G-Unit is already family."
Regardless of who Corey signs with, he wants to release his album toward the middle or end of next year. "God Forgives, I Don't will definitely be coming out in the summer," Gunz said. "If not the summer, then the fall. I'm taking my time critiquing it every step. It's gonna be a classic." ...
" 'It's All G' — that was one I really liked," Tip said of some highlights that didn't make the cut. "The one with Fall Out BoyFall Out Boy: 'Out in the Cold.' The one with The-Dream: 'Like I Do.' 'Let My Beat Pound' — there's a few of them."
The King said there's a possibility that all or some of those records will appear on his Paper Trail follow-up. "I'm starting on my next project," he revealed. "I just gotta figure out what I'm gonna call it."
Tip has loved his new music since going back to the method of writing lyrics down, as opposed to composing verses in his head. Still, he's not sure which technique he'll use on the new opus. "I'mma figure that out, man," Tip told. "I might use a little of both. I might use the Paper Trail method." ...
Back to Young Buck. He may still be bound to the G-Unit, but he said he's ready to put all his prior beef out the window — and maybe even do some collaborations with these people.
"Jadakiss, for one," he said. "He's out here. Jim Jones, we all good. I got music with everybody. Even with the Game situation. I'm looking to collaborating with those who wanna collaborate with me. At this point, I didn't have a conversation with Fat Joe. I seen [DJ] Khaled. We ain't had no conversations, but I'm right here, they right there. It's a respect thing. I don't carry no situations that was there with G-Unit at this point. That was dead weight."
Buck has a mixtape out now called Cashville: The Takeover and another one "cooking up."
"I'm trying to take that title Lil WayneLil Wayne has when it comes to the mixtapes," he said. "We showing up."
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.