Lloyd Banks: Bank On It Pt. 1
I’m always weirded out when my editors give me an assignment that involves interviewing emcees. Not because I am star struck but simply due to the fact that you never truly know how they will respond to you. Sometimes, they are easy to gauge and the conversation flows naturally. Others can be awkward and have you counting down the minutes until their publicist intervenes saving you from journalism hell. Luckily for me, speaking to Lloyd Banks turned out to be a highlight of my week as we chopped it up about his album Hunger For More 2, Picasso, how he’s grown since the infamous leak of The Big Withdrawl, life with EMI, being the underdog, and what it takes to make a classic.
TWV: How do you feel about Kanye West saying that you are one of the most underrated emcees in the game right now?
LB: Its dope considering that it is coming from one of the premiere emcees in the game. That was dope for him to say that considering he is still doing what he is doing. Its one thing to get a compliment from someone when they are retired but he gave me a compliment in the middle of him peaking even though I feel like he is still going to make better music. And you know outside of that, when somebody says you are underrated, it kind of just says you haven’t—you know—there is more to go. You have more goals to reach. It’s dope considering that I’ve been successful and we’ve achieved a lot of things as G-Unit but I think what he’s trying to say is Lloyd Banks, the solo artist, has so much further to go.
TWV: Do you agree with that?
LB: Most definitely…most definitely. I will be the first one to agree. I was bugging out because I would do things like…I’ve had a lot of success in my career but when you come in the game with an entity as big as G-Unit, Interscope, and Shady/Aftermath, that umbrella alone demands success. People start to expect you to have success and to sell a ton of records. They count out the fact you have to work hard to be there. It’s like, if a basketball player joins the Lakers right now—that’s the NBA champions, so if you are a role player, you have to be the best role player ever. If your job is to just knock down the open three, then you better not miss.
It sounds easier said than done but you know when you are in that, you have to stand amongst that pressure and that goes for any crew. Whether it’s Young Money—if you are Drake or Nicki Minaj, you gotta stand up to Lil Wayne. If you’re on Aftermath, you gotta report to [Dr.] Dre. At the end of the day, I was just trying to fit in but I was being compared to other artists. They were comparing me to 50 Cent. Comparing me to the artists that came in the game having number one albums because you know, since Nicki Minaj had her number one debut album, I’m the last one from NYC to do it but I think a lot of my achievements get overlooked because they expect success.
TWV: You mentioned before that it is hard to squeeze all of your life experiences into one album of so I’m sure it isn’t too much easier with a second. So will we see a part three in the Hunger For More series?
LB: At this point right now, I don’t know. I didn’t go into H.F.M. 2 before I started the production of the album. Like “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley,”—when I released that in February, it just had a big reception and it grew organically. It kind of reminded me of my introduction. I was like, for anybody that forgot about Banks, I’m pretty sure this is the best way to remind them and make a sequel to my introduction—my debut album. But it depends on what the first record will be after I release all the singles from this album. It also depends on what the first record sounds like. If it sounds like a record that can fit into that zone of HFM then maybe, but who’s to say because I make so many records and different kinds of music that it might cause for a whole other kind of title. Who knows…
TWV: Well, this album has been well received by your fans and critics so you never know. Your fans may ban together requesting a part three to the series.
LB: That would be dope. You know, going into this project, to be honest with you, I was a little uneasy because I wasn’t on a record label yet and then I went into an independent situation with EMI so you don’t know what to expect because all you know is the major circuit. So now you are coming into an independent space where you gotta work the record a little more. “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” was recorded in my house in my home studio and mixed and mastered out the pocket and had over a thousand spins on the radio even before we went for ads and already generated two hundred thousand dollars through iTunes before I even signed the contract with EMI.
LB: You know? So I got comfortable with what it felt like to make music right from my studio and put it on iTunes to sell immediately. A lot of artists on a major now can sell a million ringtones but the money they make will go to recouping.
TWV: Absolutely. Now you’ve been in this game for a while and you’ve had a very interesting journey. So looking back, what do you think about where the industry is now compared to when you dropped your debut album? You know the skinny jeans, emo rap, etc. All that.
LB: It’s a lot of differences. But at the end of the day, it was a lot of differences at the time when G-Unit made their introduction. You know music was different from the music that inspired us. I came from the no nonsense emcees like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Biggie, and Pac; the emcees that I followed weren’t too animated. They weren’t too outside of reality so that’s what I based my style on. When I came in the game, you had a lot of R&B catering type of music that was going on. So the music we came with was so aggressive, it had an impact. And nowadays, it’s revering again. It’s to the point where they’ve become exhausted with what you would call the gangsta music or whatever. Sometimes people get out of reality and they want to just party and wear skinny jeans like you said or whatever it is. But I think everything comes back around full circle in due time and I think that everybody has their movement. So the same way people may get exhausted with gangsta rap or party music—it’s up to artists like myself and Jay-Z, Eminem, Raekwon, 50 Cent and artists like that who put together great albums and every song is different that makes people respect the album.
The game turned into a singles game where you just drop your single and make a dance to it and go. But then you have artists like myself who can put together a whole album to where 1-14 tracks on the record will have a different feel. One record might be towards the females, one is about my neighborhood, one is a concept record, then you have a weed record, a drunk record, you got an in love record, and you got a fuck a girl record. It has to be every kind of thing in order to make it a classic.