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G-Unit: Our Gang

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50 Cent and his compadres Young Buck, Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks take aim at securing their spots in the rap pantheon.G-Unit is a magnet for attention. When you boast worldwide sales of around 30 million albums sold collectively, the spotlight will inevitable surround you and your crew.  With all the attention on every move that’s made, rumors, beefs, friction and internal turmoil make Hip-Hop headlines and without a proper foundation, any one of those distractions can split a group apart.However, G-Unit’s resolve has been proven and so far stood the test of time. In the midst of preparing for a world tour, getting any kind of time with the Gorilla Unit groups is a major challenge. However, with the group’s sophomore album, Shoot To Kill, set to drop December 18th, AllHipHop.com candidly spoke to 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks and Young Buck to discuss the past and what lies ahead for the future.                                       AllHipHop.com: Lets talk about the G-Unit album. Are there any other artists making appearances on the album?Tony Yayo: I don’t know. Right now, we just working. Me, Banks and Buck is just working right now. And as far as production-wise, we got Timbaland, we got Swizz Beatz, we got a lot of new producers… a lot of people who have sent us stuff like Ron Browz . That’s for sure, right now. We got two records, which are my favorite, from Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. AllHipHop.com: The G-Unit album, why did you do it? What’s the difference between the first one and this one?Young Buck: I think as artists we’ve all matured. We’ve all individually had the chance since the first G-Unit album, getting out here with platinum success and establishing ourselves as artists. It’s just financially everyone is in a better position from where we started. Mentally everyone is in a bigger position. We’ve never stopped working. The work ethic shows as far as the music. The music has definitely gotten better in the sense of being people who never stop working which was instilled through us on day one through 50. You know the whole part of “Alright ni**a you may have a hit but you need another one”. And we’ve followed that method as far as, from the beginning up until now, it’s just a second time coming. The streets really been waiting. They love us period. Whether we’re individually out doing our thing, you got a Lloyd Banks album or a 50 Cent album or a Young Buck album, our loyal fans they’re there, even the ones we make fans, they love us period individually. But I think overall all the fans love to see us together period. Because [there have] been times where I may do a show and50 come through and Banks and Yayo come through and the sh*t is crazy understand? Or just period it can be just anytime where we just together and you can just feel the energy. It’s time. 50 thinks it’s time. You should think it’s time my ni**a. It’s been a while.50 Cent: I felt good about the project. I felt like that this record so far is coming together. It’s not a difficult project because you have four writers, instead of one. So creating, having to write production ideas, picking the right beats, and concepts for songs—like for the first portion of the record we were in the studio recording and they thought that they were pretty much done with the record cause I was like, “Yo, let’s get this done this week”. We ran through 18 records. But what I was doing at that point was I was allowing them to make the same effort that they would make for mixtape material, for the album. So we’ll put portions of that material that were made during that time span on the actual street. It’s not going to do anything but build momentum. Cause it’s the same grain of quality that you’ll get from the actual album on the G-Unit mixtape, that will come out ahead of it. I think they all got some thing to prove.Young Buck: Yeah, honestly, you know since we actually dropped the first G-Unit album, its been a lot of other artists been actually able to come into the game and do their thing. And that right there builds enough hunger in us individually, to see other artists to succeed and do their thing. We are competitors and we strive to be number one. We won’t settle for anything other than being number one. It’s just the energy of what’s been put out there is just like another fuel to our fire. You know it’s a lot of good sh*t, but there’s more bullsh*t out there. That makes us feel like, Hold on man lets get this back to where it needs to be.  50 Cent: You know I think it’s clear, that even the public understand, that there is no direct comparison to any group or crew prior to G-Unit, like who would you point out that had an entire crew, if you pointed out.  AllHipHop.com: Wu-Tang maybe?  50 Cent: Wu-Tang is probably the only that you can say that established having each one of their artists recognized. But they can’t say that each one of their artists went platinum individually. You see what I’m saying? And have success when they actually come together to create the project at the same time. It’s a tough task for you to actually accomplish that. Like you got St. Lunatics when there’s members in the group that you won’t actually know their name. You feel what I’m saying? And the same for D12. They had that issue. That’s why they did “My Band.” Eminem created that actual song because it would be people having those issues not paying enough attention to the group. So I was conscious of those situations initially. That is why after completing Get Rich or Die Tryin’, I went straight to Beg For Mercy instead of my follow up, The Massacre. Of course Interscope wanted another solo album, and I said, “Naw, I want to do this and then we went into The Hunger For More and Straight Outta Cashville to release those records.    AllHipHop.com: I want to talk about the missing link with Yayo not being in the first album, how was it different this time with Yayo now much more involved? Tony Yayo: I’m excited because I was locked up for the first one, so I still feel like a new artist. I feel like when it comes to G-Unit, we don’t get the props we so-called deserve.  But it really doesn’t matter to me. You know what I’m saying? I pull up to Banks crib he got two Escalades and all kinds of cars in his driveway and I remember us not  having none of that. Like 50 said, “We never bring home any trophies, we just bring home the checks.” So, you know, I’m happy.  Me, Banks, we onboard right now, and 50 and Buck onboard and we go to the studio, and like Banks make me go hard. We just been in the studio for like two or three days. Maybe did like 18 records.  So, it’s like when me and him is in the studio, that’s what make me go hard. Not no management, not no A&R, nuffin’ there. There’s nobody there, just us in the studio. Fif is running around doing his CEO thing. Me and Banks go down there, roll up, and we go hard like we don’t got money. That’s how we go hard.   Young Buck: I know during the time, a lot of fans, alot people in general was thinking, Buck was a fill-in for Yayo. A lot of people wasn’t aware that I had a relationship established with Yayo before his incarceration came about. So I felt the loss a little bit more than the average person will feel being that that he was my homeboy before I actually was on a record.  You know honestly, [laughs] when I first met Yayo, when I first met 50 Cent and Lloyd banks on some real talk, I mean they were chasing music but it was really like in a different way. You know homeboy moves real militant. So honestly I’m not even going bite my tongue, when I met Yayo, Yayo had a tenth of crack in his pocket my dude. Just to be real with it. You understand? So to actually watch from where Yayo come from and to watch to be taken in incarceration, it was hard. You know what I’m saying? It’s definitely a good feeling to have Yayo around. Yayo delivers energy that I couldn’t deliver, that Banks or 50 couldn’t deliver. You know we all have our own distinctive good points. There’s certain things that Yayo can do that I can’t do and vice versa through the crew. Yayo has that energy that is definitely needed amongst G-Unit and outside of that he keeps that brotherly love. He keeps a lot of the family part of the situation together too. It just feels good to have us all back as one and to be able to work together.  Although Yayo wasn’t there, financially (laughs) Yayo wasn’t missed. Because 50 is a real ni**a. He was like one of those ni**as, where in the beginning when Yayo’s incarceration came about he was like, You know we’re gonna walk out and like do everything we got to do and give Yayo his cut as if he was still here. Sh*t when Yayo came home he was richer than like you’re average platinum artist, my ni**a, just to be f*cking real.  It’s just about enjoying it.  The minute where any of us stop enjoying this sh*t then we’ll find other things to do. But were loving this sh*t man and the unit ain’t going nowhere period. And it’s just about getting in this. In the studio, delivering another one of these f*cking multi-platinum albums we putting together now.  It feels good to have Yayo home my ni**a and he’s smoking again so you know I love it.50 Cent: I just think the project itself is going to be something that they can look forward to. There hasn’t been an album that’s come out that actually captures aggression or street content that was good, the full body of work. Or we can look forward to what Jay is going to do with American Gangster, but outside of that. Even on that project, those singles aren’t making me say “I can’t wait to hear it.” I want to see what he actually did with the rest of the record. Because I’m sure he’s gonna have something on there that excites me.    AllHipHop.com: I wouldn’t take that as an aggressive stance even

though the title is pretty aggressive. I think that of it as the Jay-Z

album, you know? 50 Cent: Yeah but when you say “American Gangster”, he’s saying he’s influenced by the actual film and you know that will be aggressive content. That’s what I’m hearing. So that will make me look forward to hearing what he actually got from the film that inspired him to write those songs and to see what direction he will go in. Because that’s saying that it’s not his actual mentally, it’s saying that it’s creatively what he wants to put together right now. That gotta make you say I want to see what he came up with cause I know the possibility are when we start using our imagination there’s no limit. So I gotta see exactly what that record is. Like for the person that is out there that is feeling like “I heard ‘Blue Magic’ and the second record and I ain’t really feeling that” or whatever, cause I’m hearing that, for them what I’ve been saying to them is you gotta hear the actual record. You gotta buy the record and hear the actual album and see what you think. Cause it will have something in those pockets that will get you through this time period where there’s nothing. You got a lot of artists out there that ain’t capable of delivery anything outside of whatever single they get that connects. This is why we are in a ringtone era, where that one song pops and we absolutely have to figure out a remix. The only remix I did of any record I put out was to launch Beg for Mercy, I did a “P.I.M.P Remix” with Snoop. That was the only remix I did in my entire career prior to “I Get Money”. A lot of the things I hear from people when I’m just passing, like I have homies that stay in the barber shop so they hear what people think. And the audience is real fickle. There’s absolutely no loyalty in what we do. I don’t know what to expect performance wise from this actual record as far as American Gangster, but I’m looking for it. Because I’m looking for it creatively to see where he went.    Young Buck: I’m gonna do whatever I got to do as far as with this album. Because I know a lot of lives on this album: me, Banks, Yayo. We all know for us, we take every project that we’ve ever done, any material that we ever been on, we take it and treat as if it was our last one. We make sure that it’s right. This is a chance for us, to actually give [fans], as a group collectively, to give them the opinions of what it’s been. What shocks me is that the 18 records that we’ve recorded is possible records that won’t be used and they are f*cking ridiculously crazy.  You know the level that we got to go to. All I can do is tell you to expect the unexpected. 50 Cent: What surprised me is that, there was a point where I was hearing people say that G-Unit was over. For a short period of time they kind of felt the 50 Cent backlash. They so closely associated with me there’s a point where they decided to go against you just for you winning so often. I’ve been a consistent winner for the last four years, it feels like ten. We’ve only been on since 2003.  Young Buck: 50 you made f***ing [with] more money I think outside of the music game than Interscope generated as a label the whole entire year. So honestly that’s one of the realest things I’ve ever hear you say is like we all what they always grown to love, but the fact we’ve won so much so quick, I think its almost not the fans, but the ones who sit behind the table that feel like let’s give someone else a shot.  But the fans…They gonna get G-Unit. “We’re tired of this water downed sh*t that’s going down. We need the Unit”. And we’re hear to deliver. 50 Cent: I say a lot changed with one record.    Buck: Straight up and down. If you go outside of the music, speaking from being a true homeboy of 50 Cent, trying to count 50 Cent pockets you’re gonna lose your brain.50 Cent:  I think when “I Get Money” came out they just changed their minds. I’ve watched the messages on the blogs just change. “Oh they’re back. G-Unit is back”. It was real quick. It was one record.AllHipHop.com: But that’s the nature of our audience.  50 Cent: But it’s amazing to me that you’ll say that one camp is done based on one record. Like how you do that?  If they say “Straight to the Bank” is lukewarm. That’s what they called it. They said “Amusement Park” was lukewarm. Now both of these songs spun 3,000 times. We were talking about Jays’ project, “Blue Magic” didn’t break 3,000 spins. What does that mean? Is that cold? Neither one of those first tw singles didn’t do that. I don’t gage it on that. I say let me see what the record is. And I’m looking forward to the actual album coming out. They’ve given me resistance because they created this—well, I’ve created the bar with the material that I delivered in the past—but they’re holding me to it. So what I think is going to be interesting is the next go round, the pressure that like Kanye just entered that realm. The pressure is going to be; deliver what is hands down the best record right now or we don’t want you no more.   Young Buck: I can only agree with it because I’m watching it happen.   50 Cent: Do you agree with me that “I Get Money” was that vocal record at that point?  AllHipHop.com: I mean even Kanye addressed it and was like “When he dropped ‘I Get Money,’ it raised the bar”.   50 Cent: It has the moment, a feeling where it reminds me of “In The Club”. The response to the record. And you don’t do that everyday. That something that happens organically. It just happens in the studio you find something that works. Initially when I was creating “I Get Money” I was writing it like it was a mixtape, a freestyle. I wrote the first verse like this is too good to throw away, let me just finish it.   Young Buck: Ni**a when you put it out it wasn’t even mixed or mastered!50 Cent:  It wasn’t. It was just put it out and see what happens. AllHipHop.com: So now lets go to G-Unit, the song with you and Lil Kim, was that the first G-Unit release?50 Cent:  That was the first record that we released to introduce that the G-Unit album was coming this year. I have a hard time resolving issues with people. Once I have the issue, I don’t usually initiate it. People usually hear what I’m saying first so they feel like I’m starting it. Like I’ll watch someone doing something that makes me uncomfortable behind the scenes for a period of time, then I’ll say something to them because it’s making me uncomfortable. And because the public is paying more attention to me than they are these artists, it feels like 50’s just jumping on these artists. And then at the end of the day in Kim’s space, I didn’t have a problem with Kim but the man she was with at the time. And she is who she is rolling with whoever she’s down with. You’ve seen her go to jail with rolling with who ever she’s down with at the time. She’s an extremist. Instead of saying “Yeah I know him but I don’t know what happened”, she says “I don’t know him, I don’t know nothing”. And has to go to jail for it. That’s who she is. It’s a similar response I was getting while I was having an issue with the person she was seeing at that time.   AllHipHop.com: How did y’all squash it and get together? I mean this is pretty big.  50 Cent:  It’s easy. Cause when I think about it and say I really don’t have an issue with her, it was really him that I had the problem with. All I got to do is say “Kim I need for you to come to the studio and do this record”. And she wants to do the record.   Young Buck: She didn’t really have an issue herself. She probably saying like sh*t I’ve been waiting for a way to get at you to resolving on her own. But hey at the end of the day, it’s a good fuckin record.    50 Cent:  And it was the first thing we put out to actually introduce…and it’s own built in controversy about it because of the whole history of me and her not getting along. It’s a conversation piece. Go out there and say “Yo, you heard that record with 50 and Lil Kim?” They want to hear it again. There’s no one actually out there that’s generating interest that’s speaking from a female perspective. So it’s important to actually hit that record. You’ve heard Trina’s new single? I listen to Hip-Hop music. So when something new comes out, I’m like one of the first people to actually hear the record. I’m like let me hear it. And I hear it and she’s like I’m single again. That record is not hot to me. That’s not hot. I think it sound like she was trying to make a pop record. When she can give them who she was when she came with Trick [Daddy] in the beginning. That’s what’s missing. The girl that can mix in with the actual guys right now. That’s like a whole other girl. I wanted to hear Eve like she was in the middle of Ruff Ryders. That’s what I miss about the female actual artist. Like Fox when she was with Jay and Nas. When Kim had them around her. I like Remy. When she’s with a group of hard artists, she can hold her own for real. She’ll get right in there, she might take the verse and end up stealing that actual song if you don’t come for real. I like to see people try to make Kanye West records cause I see them trying to make 50 Cent records. I see them, the melody now all of a sudden on a record. How they actually do things that come from this influence that I’ve been doing on mixtape circuits and what I may put out. AllHipHop.com: We talked earlier about the aggressiveness. That wasn’t aggressive. It was cool. It was mellow. I mean ya’ll was taking about grabbing a**, it was still street but it was a soul sample, it was a little easier. It was something where people will really sit there and say that’s a different look for G-Unit. 50 Cent:  What you just saw on that “Feel Good” was what “You Should Be Here” was for 50 Cent Is The Future. We’re taking it back to what the mixtape was initially, and we’re creating a new vibe, a new sound for them to actually rock to on the street. We go back to that but its important to have a presence virally. Every magazine company, every commercial format that you will utilize to promote an artist prior to this now have an online component.  Magazines are getting smaller and smaller.  AllHipHop.com: We talked specifically about the digital age, how it effects new artists. Even marketing.  50 Cent:  It’s a new approach. I won’t give it away until after I use it because it will create a traffic jam but there’s a new way to actually set a presence. Everyone wants to actually go and make a mixtape. They get that from me. When you get a guy that says I want you to hear my mixtape and you don’t know him from no where, he got that from 50 Cent.  When you hear a rapper write in song format and call it a freestyle, that comes from us. That comes from G-Unit. Prior to that, a freestyle was 36 bars. What I brought was song structure. I was reprimanded for not having a strong song structure [by] Jam Master Jay. So my discipline was to stay in that actual zone. Everything we did from the beginning  was in song formant. If you listen to early G-Unit records, freestyles, I did every hook. Cause they still weren’t conditioned for that yet at that point. They would do the verse and sit back and say watch what I’ll do to you on the next one, with the next verse. I got the idea. And L’ll say, we’ll do what we got to do. But the portion of the freestyle that people learnt and said repetitively was what I came up with. The actual chorus. You have some guys who are good rappers and  develop into great songwriters then you got guys that can rap but they just won’t ever get it.AllHipHop.com: What about online? Will you consider a digital label?  Everything is towards residing online in the next years.50 Cent: Everything’s online now. Soulja Boy was in the black before he actually came out.  The money he made off of ringtones made his album alright to go out and go on sale. AllHipHop.com: The ringtone is what we were doing years ago with the CD single or even the cassette single. There was a time where there was nothing there and now it’s the ringtone. It’s digital now. Wouldn’t it be best if someone like you delve into it and just said this is what its got to be for now on?50 Cent:  It would probably be great for people from the artist perspective but it wouldn’t be good the traditional music business. Cause once they see me do that then the other artists, soon as they reach the point where they’ve fulfilled their requirements, they would leave. AllHipHop.com: Then there’s something wrong with the structure then.50 Cent:  Well its just gotta change. Technology changes a lot. When those little iPod screens stop playing music videos and start playing movies full time-cause bootleg movie comes out before the film too-but there’re not as many movies circulated. But you can download an album right there cause it’s just the audio. But when you have both the audio and the video it takes a lot more to download. So once the technology gets you up to speed where you can just get the movie, what makes you think they’re gonna pay for the movie? If they’re already conditioned to get their music that way, films are next. I believe there’ll be a point when we’ll watch films the way we watch pay per view boxing. Thursday at nine we are sitting around waiting to check out the new movie. Cause they can just put it up and everybody can just pay to see it. And people gonna pay to watch it, wherever they are.          

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