Would Lloyd Banks kill somebody for 50 Cent? Strange question unless you know the adamantium-clad loyalty that Banks holds for his mentor. Then, the question is not so easy to answer. One thing is certain, Banks will ride in that G-Unit car, whether it is about to self-destruct or careen down a road to vast riches. Thats just the kind of man he is. Fortunately, Banks remains a viable artist who isnt reliant on his friend for the quality of his music these days. Look no further than Beamer, Benz, or Bentley, his street smash with Juelz Santana riding shotgun.
In the Manhattan offices of G-Unit, Banks is cool as a spring day in Alaska. The workers are abuzz and Tony Yayo is in the back somewhere conducting his own interview. Theres a genuine excitement for where the brand is headed. Oddly, Banks not 50 – is the main generate of the electricity this time around. Perhaps hes ready to hop in the drivers seat for a spell.
AllHipHop.com: So first of all your new joint, Beamer, Benz, or Bentley, has everybody excited about G-Unit again and, I mean not again, but you know what Im saying.
Lloyd Banks: Again. Its okay to say it. [chuckles]
AllHipHop.com: Okay, so none of the Camron /50 Cent beef stuff ever came into the picture with you and Juelz collaborating on that song?
Lloyd Banks: Nah, mainly because, and people should know this by now, Im the most loyal cat thats around. Im a rare breed. 50 definitely had knowledge of what was going on. He was one of the ones saying, S**t you better go and do that, make that happen. Because even his situation with Camron, who am I to say how serious it is? To me that was music. Thats rap, thats being competitive and, they came in the game around the same time so, Im pretty sure theres a respect there. Thats what the game is built around, the competition; positive or negative, but, we past all that. Were here to take the torch, bring it to another level. Its good for New York City Hip-Hop. Its Good for Hip-Hop period. You know, for other reasons to look in and see New York artists working together. So, this is the first time they heard us, it wont be the last time they hear us.
AllHipHop.com: New York City needs that unity. First of all, Ive got to honestly ask you, do you feel like G-Unit contributed to some of the dissension, because I know Fabolous had said that at one point.
Lloyd Banks: Well, our contribution was more success. I think the hate came from the amount of success that we achieved. You know, throughout them years, we were so intact with each other [we] just wanted to make everybody from our situation successful first. We had a big crew. Like when Death Row came you wasnt really hearing Snoop on nobody elses record. You was hearing them on records with Daz, Kurrupt, Nate Dogg, Tupac, Danny Boy, whoever was down with Death Row. They had a wide circle; female artists and everything.
Thats kind of how G-Unit was. So it was like, Im was a record with Prodigy, or Im doing a record with M.O.P. So, not to say we never wanted it to work, we had so much talent within our own circle. We was kind of focused on G-Unit, and I feel like that kind of created an aura like we didnt want to work with other people. And it wasnt that, its just me as a solo artist today I still feel like I havent achieved the success that Im going to.
“A lot of artists are sitting there when you first get signed to major label and the massage you like you cant live without them. Its a beautiful feeling to be independent and to be able to make money directly though iTunes or ringtones.”
AllHipHop.com: Its important to note too, as far as your personal growth, theres a lot of artists that are really talented, you know Memphis Bleek, I just talked to him a few days ago.
Lloyd Banks: Shout out to Bleek.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, definitely, and they have these larger than life personalities, you know Jay and 50 both cast a big shadow, but that doesnt take away from the talent that you have as well.
Lloyd Banks: Yeah it definitely doesnt, and at the same time youve got to know who you are as an artist. First off, 50 was the one that told me I was going to be a solo artist. At that point man I was just happy to be out of South Jamaica, Queens and doing something. I would have been good with it just being a group thing, and he presented me with the option to be a solo artist directly following the success of Beg For Mercy, the first G-Unit album. So, it could be a shadow to a certain extent to the naked eye, but at the same time Ive been prepped, more than the average artist gets the opportunity to be.
Which also I feel might have, shied some artists away from me, feeling like Im Richie Rich. Like Im one of the artists thats going to be good, well off regardless if hes successful or not, and thats not the case. I think time is everything. When Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out 50 was my age now.
Thats just how I look at things. I was fortunate enough to be around somebody like that and watch his Get Rich or Die Tryin’, watch his Massacre, watch him break records, how to conduct yourself in the public, how to do the proper interviews and not say stupid things and, whats a good show, opposed to whats a okay show. Being on 50 city tours with Eminem. All that came from me being around that situation, so I cant really look at it one way, youve got to look at it both ways. Because I still have the opportunity, being 27 years old, to go out there and do everything Im capable of.
“Just to prove somebody wrong, it feels good. There was never a point where if felt where I felt like it was over. If anything, its a new beginning like Wu Tang.”
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned shows. One of the most refreshing shows Ive been to was when yall performed at Highline Bar Room. The crowd was crazy, girls were going berserk for you. One girl almost broke her leg trying to jump on stage. And, people still know the mixtape joints word for word.
Lloyd Banks: Yeah they do, and its crazy. Not to go back on the topic, but sometimes I feel like the business aspect of G-Unit kind of overshadowed the talent. Theyre forgetting the talent is what opened up the doors for these people to want to sit down in a suit and talk business. You aint get in here by mistake, and the catalogue speaks for itself, but I just feel that way
sometimes. They so used to you winning that they want to feel you lose. Now, I feel the new energy, and its one thing to succeed when everybody feels you..its another thing to do it when they count you out. And I felt I was being counted out to a certain extent.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the status of G-Unit in your opinion? Some say its over and some say its back with your new song.
Lloyd Banks: The monster they see, we created. My debut sold 446-thousand units the first week. Very few people speak on it, but there are very few artists that have done that from New York City. Even my last album my last album topped off at 400 and change. Now if you do 400 and change thats considered one of the best albums of the year. I think the climate was changing and people were looking for us to maintain. Everybodys numbers were affected. You might have had a T.I. here and you might have had a Jay-Z or 50 here that have kept their numbers up to par. But, for the most part, everybodys felt the affect. Even the record label. Thats why they are offering 360 deals and a bunch of stuff I will not deal with. I came at a time when none of that existed.
Lloyd Banks: One record can change the tone. Before 50 dropped I Get Money, people were expressing their little doubts. It just feels good. Im looking for new avenues for excitement and drive. Just to prove somebody wrong, it feels good. There was never a point where if felt where I felt like it was over. If anything, its a new beginning like Wu Tang.
AllHipHop.com: How hard is it to be loyal to 50 Cent?
Lloyd Banks: I dont know what people dont understand. If this was all over today and we had to go back to the hood, we would be together. You feel me? We family. You stick with family through thick and thin. Its easier to jump ship when you aint part of the crew. These guys complain when they f**k up. But, when they were over here, they were driving $200, 000 cars, million dollar cribs and G-Unit pom-poms up. Once the parade go by, they want to complain.
“When we see each other, its going to be what its going to be. You know that boy cant f**k with me. Fat Rick Ross you need about three of them n***as. The whole Triple Cs.”
AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the whole Rick Ross thing now, in hindsight?
Lloyd Banks: Im going to speak to my music. All that blogging I aint with that. When we see each other, its going to be what its going to be. You know that boy cant f**k with me. Fat Rick Ross you need about three of them n***as. The whole Triple Cs.
AllHipHop.com: What about your legal situation? You had an incident in Canada.
Lloyd Banks: I cant elaborate on that too much, but what I can say is Im here. It hasnt put a damper on me as far as my music goes. Its helped me focus more on my music. Right now, Im working on my album. Everything else will iron itself out.
AllHipHop.com: For the album, I heard a summer release?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, were aiming for a summer release, late summer. Its not a stamp date, but thats where Im headed for. This is my year. Thats the other thing. When you are working independent, you can decide when sometimes when you are working for a label, they put you on that time clock. Sometimes, things can get forced.
AllHipHop.com: Any truth to the rumor that G-Unit Records is going independent?
Lloyd Banks: Well see in the very near future, its a very smart option. Based on the response that Ive gotten from Beamer, Benz of Bentley, the artist is more powerful than you think. A lot of artists are sitting there when you first get signed to major label and the massage you like you cant live without them. Its a beautiful feeling to be independent and to be able to make money directly though iTunes or ringtones. When I did the, Officer Down the response to Rick Ross it was already 700 800 thousand free download before we even made the deal with iTunes. Before they approached me and I still sold 60 or 70 thousand. This time, [with Beamer, Benz of Bentley] I wanted to jump on it immediately. I wont speak on the percentages of the [revenue] split, but its nothing that I would get with a major. It damn near feels illegal.