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Lloyd Banks: Pass The Keys

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. That’s just the kind of man he is. Fortunately, Banks remains a viable artist who isn’t 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. There’s a genuine excitement for where the brand is headed. Oddly, Banks – not 50  – is the main generate of the electricity this time around. Perhaps he’s 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 I’m saying. 

Lloyd Banks: Again. It’s okay to say it. [chuckles]

AllHipHop.com: Okay, so none of the Cam’ron /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, I’m the most loyal cat that’s around. I’m 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 Cam’ron, who am I to say how serious it is? To me that was music. That’s rap, that’s being competitive and, they came in the game around the same time so, I’m pretty sure there’s a respect there. That’s what the game is built around, the competition; positive or negative, but, we past all that. We’re here to take the torch, bring it to another level. It’s good for New York City Hip-Hop. It’s 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 won’t be the last time they hear us.

AllHipHop.com: New York City needs that unity. First of all, I’ve 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 wasn’t really hearing Snoop on nobody else’s 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. 

That’s kind of how G-Unit was. So it was like, I’m was a record with Prodigy, or I’m 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 didn’t want to work with other people. And it wasn’t that, it’s just me as a solo artist today I still feel like I haven’t achieved the success that I’m going to. 

“A lot of artists are sitting there when you first get signed to major label and the massage you like you can’t live without them. It’s a beautiful feeling to be independent and to be able to make money directly though iTunes or ringtones.”

-Lloyd Banks

AllHipHop.com: It’s important to note too, as far as your personal growth, there’s 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 doesn’t take away from the talent that you have as well. 

Lloyd Banks: Yeah it definitely doesn’t, and at the same time you’ve 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 I’ve 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 I’m Richie Rich.  Like I’m one of the artists that’s going to be good, well off regardless if he’s successful or not, and that’s not the case. I think time is everything. When Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out 50 was my age now. 

That’s 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, what’s a good show, opposed to what’s a okay show. Being on 50 city tours with Eminem. All that came from me being around that situation, so I can’t really look at it one way, you’ve got to look at it both ways. Because I still have the opportunity, being 27 years old, to go out there and do everything I’m 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, it’s a new beginning like Wu Tang.”

-Lloyd Banks

AllHipHop.com: You mentioned shows. One of the most refreshing shows I’ve been to was when ya’ll 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 it’s crazy. Not to go back on the topic, but sometimes I feel like the business aspect of G-Unit kind of overshadowed the talent. They’re forgetting the talent is what opened up the doors for these people to want to sit down in a suit and talk business. You ain’t 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 it’s one thing to succeed when everybody feels you..it’s another thing to do it when they count you out. And I felt I was being counted out to a certain extent. 

AllHipHop.com: What’s 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 that’s considered one of the best albums of the year. I think the climate was changing and people were looking for us to maintain. Everybody’s 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, everybody’s felt the affect. Even the record label. That’s 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.

AllHipHop.com: Right.

Lloyd Banks: One record can change the tone. Before 50 dropped “I Get Money,” people were expressing their little doubts. It just feels good. I’m 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, it’s a new beginning like Wu Tang.

AllHipHop.com: How hard is it to be loyal to 50 Cent?

Lloyd Banks:  I don’t know what people don’t 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 ain’t 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, it’s going to be what its going to be. You know that boy can’t f**k with me. Fat Rick Ross…you need about three of them n***as. The whole Triple C’s.”

-Lloyd Banks

AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the whole Rick Ross thing now, in hindsight?

Lloyd Banks: I’m going to speak to my music. All that blogging…I ain’t with that. When we see each other, it’s going to be what its going to be. You know that boy can’t f**k with me. Fat Rick Ross…you need about three of them n***as. The whole Triple C’s.

AllHipHop.com: What about your legal situation? You had an incident in Canada.

Lloyd Banks: I can’t elaborate on that too much, but what I can say is I’m here. It hasn’t put a damper on me as far as my music goes. It’s helped me focus more on my music. Right now, I’m working on my album. Everything else will iron itself out.

AllHipHop.com: For the album, I heard a summer release?

Lloyd Banks: Yeah, we’re aiming for a summer release, late summer. Its not a stamp date, but that’s where I’m headed for. This is my year. That’s 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: We’ll see in the very near future, it’s a very smart option. Based on the response that I’ve 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 can’t live without them. It’s 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 won’t speak on the percentages of the [revenue] split, but its nothing that I would get with a major. It damn near feels illegal.

 

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