50 Cent talks, a lot. Sitting in the middle of a couch up at the G-Unit office, book ended by Lloyd Banks to his left and Tony Yayo to his right, the G-Unit maestro effortlessly dominates the convo, meandering from Young Buck’s departure and Game’s jawing to independent labels and, of course, G-Unit’s upcoming album T.O.S. (Terminate On Site).
When OG G-Unit members Banks and Yayo do chime in, their commentary is pointed but insightful, buttressing their de facto leader’s ever-quotable commentary. The dynamic witnessed is likely a glimpse into the roots of the old friends from Queens’ success; friendship and loyalty making for a united front against all their enemies. Oh, and the dope music helps too.AllHipHop.com: Alright, so the new albums T.O.S. (Terminate On Site). How did you settle on this name? You went through a couple of names, no?50 Cent: Yeah, we went through Lock and Loaded and Shoot to Kill. And then T.O.S was a better title for the project because it actually related to the first project which was Beg for Mercy which was a message to the artists who put themselves in the space and became enemies. Creatively T.O.S is the sequel to that. Those other titles were too aggressive for certain markets that didnt make sense for us to lose like Walmart might have an issue and just from the business standpoint it didnt make very good sense to alienate [them].AllHipHop.com: You got the Return of the Body Snatchers mixtapes out there right now, is there going be another mixtape before the album?50 Cent: Yeah, theres gonna be a third one. Return of the Body Snatchers the first one was like actually, they came out too close together. But it was extremely effective in the timing: the second release was [timed with] Fat Joes release date. I had the opportunity to meet and speak to some people that were like, We wasnt done with that one [Return of the Body Snatchers, Part 1], we were still riding to that and the second one came and it was like, Yo, this is one is hot too and I didnt know which one to really be listening to. But its cool. When you really maintain a consistency to delivering a certain grade of quality, the people develop a comfort in purchasing the product that you created. People have been assured that theres something worth anticipating, the full body work not just commercial singles. A lot of artists at this point are delivering that one record or that one cut off the actual record that generates some interest, but its not safe to go out and buy the whole record; so you see the ringtone is doing great for the first single and then the album sales are not matching up.AllHipHop.com: So are a lot of the joints on the mixtapes, besides the current stuff addressing Fat Joe, is this material you had on stash from recording the album?Lloyd Banks: Thats just how I feel about this fat n***a. Put that out right there.50 Cent: Those mixtapes are literally two days, Saturday and Sunday, but what happens is it takes a lot longer to accumulate the right music to rap over. So we be finding pieces and then were using someone elses work so Im listening to an old record seeing if theres something we missed that we could have did over and bring that new beat back like on Return of the Body Snatchers there was a joint that was an interlude on Mos Defs album [The New Danger] called The Panties [You Need Me on Return of the Body Snatchers]; we actually took that, did that over. He had some other flavor on there The Boogie Man Song. Like, our actual audience is hearing this for the first time because theres people who listen to G-Unit who dont actually buy the Mos Def joint [or] Talib Kweli joint cause everybody has their own personal preferences in what kind of Hip-Hop music they actually buy. Those are places you can find something thatll be received new because their audiences arent so big that everybody got a chance to check them out.[G-Unit “Good To Me”]
AllHipHop.com: Now how is the album going to differentiate from the mixtapes.50 Cent: Just knowing the response to the mixtape puts you in a cool enough mind frame to make good judgments on what records should stay and what records should go. We always pretty much over record projects. Theres always excess [so] we can put a mixtape out right after we decide what the album is, but thats all original material that we hold onto because the production may become dated but the concept, it wont. You can always rephrase things and rewrite the concept and melody, and its still dope.
“I wasnt happy about the way the music was received and I was dealing with a lot. That had me a little disgusted about the game.” -Lloyd BanksAllHipHop.com: Now Banks, hows your life going? You had slowed down correct me if Im wrong but it was almost like your mind wasnt in the game. What were the steps you took to get the fires back?Lloyd Banks: I always feel comfortable in the studio, I got a studio in my house so a couple months, you know, I was back in the studio recording fore I was actually back in the public. It was a lot going on that led into that. Prior to that my mother she was in and out the hospital.50 Cent: She had a heart attack.Lloyd Banks: I was doing promos and interviews and some s**t like that and she had the first heart attack and I was there. So I actually had to get her into the ambulance and then the second time it happened I was there also, so this is going on before I gotta make my way into Manhattan to actually do the [AllHipHop Week 2006 Concert] and do all these other things and then on top of that after the album came out the 10th, I got the call on the 27th [Banks father passed away], I was in Vegas at the time.50 Cent: He was already in a slump Lloyd Banks: I wasnt happy about the way the music was received and I was dealing with a lot. Those are the reasons that had me a little disgusted about the game. I was watching the s**t go on and it was confusing and then all this on top of it just made me not even want to even be part of that s**t for a good minute.50 Cent: The expectations of G-Unit is higher than the average person based on the success weve had prior to this. People expect the best of the best from them [motioning to Banks and Yayo]. And meits the best competition I could actually be inIve been competing with my own body work since Get Rich Or Die Tryin. Get Rich or Die Tryin was perfect for that actual time period and my other bodies of work I feel were as exciting. I felt like I put the energy into them to make them good enough for that actual time period to be embraced and they werent all received the same way. Theres 12 million record sold on Get Rich or Die Tryin and 9.8 million sold on The Massacre and during the time period that I was creating material for The Massacre I also created Westside Story, Church for Thugs, Special, How We Do and Hate it or Love It. I made those first. If yall remember correctly I said I recorded about 12 records and then scrapped them and recreated, restarted the actual album. Those first 12 records to me were from a perspective of my experience and putting a little bit of vulnerability into the actual music and that was a change. This was when I was coming up with, Comin up I was confused my mama kissin a girl, you know, and I moved away from that cause I wasnt sure that my actual audience wanted to hear that from me. At that point and I went to a female audience; I created Disco Inferno, Candy Shop, Just a Lil Bit, those hit records. [G-Unit “I’m Leaving”]
Overall its the timing and how I actually feel its going to be perceived by the public. Curtis I felt was very well executed, the album is the right length. What I mean by that is if you look at those albums that you can call complete classics none of them are actually as long as Get Rich or Die Tryin like that album had 19 cuts on it so I was just dead smack right on that recordthere was a void.It went through a time period where there was things like what Ja [Rule] was creating, Nelly was smokin hot at the time period and they werent as aggressive as the material I was offering. [People] were ready for it. I seen that cycle happen before that with DMX when Get At Me Dog came and exploded and also Onyx. We went through the process of having [fans] interested in material that expressed the harsh realities in a new way. You get that record that can go straight to Top 40 and crossover radio. Some of them theyre not even made for a Hip-Hop consumer like Superstar [sings hook to Lupe Fiascos Superstar]. Thats poplike thats a big record but its almost like theyre sitting there saying were gonna make a record thats huge, they dont have intentions of directly marketing that to who we would consider our traditional Hip-Hop consumer. Theyre trying to take it a step further to a broader audience in radio and hope that equates to record sales.AllHipHop.com: Yayo, with the legal trouble you had around how did you keep your head? Yayo: What dont kill you only make you stronger man. I mean they were tryin to give me a year in jail but I beat the case out in Newark you know what I mean so basically it was just goin home doin my regular shit man. I really wasnt crying, we got n***as that aint comin home from my hood. I know it sounds ignorant but being in jail it really aint a big deal to n***as in the hood, to me too I still feel like. And I know it sound ignorant but thats how I look at it, if I gotta do a year I gotta do a year, Im not gon cry about it, it is what it is.AllHipHop.com: For all of yall since 50 Cent is the Future until now it flipped, from underdogs to most hated on, were you ready for that or did it catch you off guard?50 Cent: I think it happened to them faster than it should maybe me. Maybe I deserved that backlash but they got it because I was utilizing myself to keep them in a good space. I would loan myself to their projects and their situations [and] it would feel like its another hit for 50. So Seductive was Yayos record, On Fire was Banks and that provided the finances for them at that point. To the public, they looking at it like its another hit [from 50 Cent] so they got a backlash at a time period where I dont think they actually deserved it at that point, but thats the cycle of entertainment. Entertainers know theyll destroy you for the sake of entertainment. They want to see you go up, they want to see you come down and are actually disappointed when you dont come down. I look forward to disappointing.[G-Unit “Rider 4 Real”]
AllHipHop.com: With Young Buck having departed how is that going to affect the album?50 Cent: It doesnt really affect the project. Even if I didnt tell the public where we were actually at cause I could have just not said anything. To be honest, I think its more healthy for him to remove himself and directly focus on what he really wants than stay in the position where youre kind frontin. AllHipHop.com: Was there a straw that broke the camels back for you?50 Cent: Well I accepted some things from him that I wouldnt even accept early on. I let him get away with saying he would be cool with somebody that he didnt know whether I was actually cool with them or not. I was explaining it to them [nods to Banks and Yayo] like, Yo hes doing it out of desperation. He didnt make sure his financials was right, it means that much more to him to have his record be a success. So he would do things like get on the radio and say hes gonna sell more records than 50, Jay-Z, Eminem and everybody. I said maybe thats the mind frame he needs to be in to help market and promote himself at this point so let it go, its cool.And then there were things like hes been in legal trouble before so he knows that youre not supposed to actually talk about the case. But there was a point he was on the Angie Martinez show and mentioned the Yayo situation saying s**t that would make people feel like he could possibly be guilty cause the public, the newspaper declares you guilty; motherf****er you did it until youre proven you havent done it.
It becomes unhealthy for portions of your business, then you gotta bring some clarity to the situation. So now he has nothing to focus on outside of Young Buck himself. -50 CentAllHipHop.com: What did yall think when you first heard 50 say hes [Young Buck] not in G-Unit anymore but still signed to G-Unit Records?Lloyd Banks: It wasnt really a surprise. I been out so I know whats goin on they had similar views on the same thing. Yayo just got wrecked cause of his actions for that situation on the radio. That was a direct situation he felt a certain way about. Those are the issues youre supposed to knowthose morals just growing up that it aint cool to be sitting next to somebody that Im not cool with.50 Cent: There was one point where we was actually on international tour and he was like, Im saying international tour, yall dont call me or nothing, and I understood it after he said to me the way he said it cause it was more like he had plans of going on a Young Rich Tour, Young Buck and Rich Boy. That never actually materialized but that was supposed to happen during the time period that we were actually on the international tour. Me and Banks set up an international tour and Yayo came.So because hes home and hes looking at the YouTube when its shooting back portions of the actual performance and hes seeing all three of em he felt like an outsider. People approach him, like Fat Joe approached him and said, Yo I dont f**k with them n***as but me and you, we alright, and that door was open for him to say those kind of things because he expressed publicly that he aint down with 50 Cent obviously, by saying Im cool with him. So its a point that you do it for business purposes continuing to actually operate that way until it becomes unhealthy for more portions of your business then you gotta bring some clarity to the actual situation. So now he has nothing to focus on outside of Young Buck himself.AllHipHop.com: Yayo what are your expectations for this project with you being here for this album? Yayo: Oh man it feels good, it feels real good because Beg For Mercy I felt good that I was even on the cover and 50 and Banks and Eminem as well as them acknowledging me while I was on Rikers Island. They didnt have to do that so shout-out to all of them on that. My expectations is high. Now I feel good because I aint on no federal probation or state parole. I dont got no P.O. coming in the condo breathing down my neck like, Yo you in the house by nine oclock?! No ankle bracelet going off because I jumped in my pool. I could tell you the s**t I was doin now because I was jumping in my pool when I had the ankle bracelet so it just feel good man to be all over the album man. Its a good energy.
“I never could bite the hand that feed me. I remember being locked on up on Rikers Island; having my lawyer fees paid for me, having a million dollars for me when I came home off the Roc the Mic Tour, getting paid off shows that I wasnt even doing.” -Tony YayoI feel like a new artist just a couple of months ago I got the chance to go around the world with 50. Got to go to Amsterdam for the first time checked the Red Light District. I got to go to Germany, I got to go to Moscow which was crazy because what was it 25 million people out there?50 Cent: Yeah, Czech Republic.Yayo: Its crazy out there. Got a chance to go where else Mumbai, India, first time in India.50 Cent: Croatia Yayo: Got a chance to go to Croatia, Kosovo, got a chance to go to Africa went to Abuja the capital of Nigeria got a chance to go to Angola. Maybe to an artist who been through it already it aint nothing to them but for me its like I never could bite the hand that feed me. I remember being in the situation where I was locked on up on Rikers Island; having my lawyer fees paid for me, having a million dollars for me when I came home off the Roc the Mic Tour, getting paid off shows that I wasnt even doing. Me and Banks having a condo, a big a**condo in the middle of Manhattan when I came home, so I still feel like a new artist because like Banks and Buck and Game and all of them, these guys got the experience to travel around the world, I aint do s**t.50 Cent: Game aint get a chance to go to those places.Lloyd Banks: Yeah, he didnt.50 Cent: Cause he destroyed the relationship before he could get a chance to go those places like even if Kanye had a phenomenal album but it takes time, the actual tour itself takes time to route you in a certain area. Itll take three albums for him [referring to Game] to get to that point where he covers all of those actual markets and develops a following in those bases. AllHipHop.com: So is Thisis50.com a way to reach out to that international audience?50 Cent: Yeah cause when Im touring in those markets Im able to say Thisis50.com on the actual stage. Its worldwide, its not just people from America going to check it out. What happens is when I release even a commercial single its three months behind. What we got out here for three months playing on the radio, what seems like an old song is just getting its first shot internationally at that point. So how long do you think before they received the street material? The material you put out for promotional purposes? Itll prepare them to buy the next record. The computer savvy people get the material off Thisis50.com and they pass it on. They give it to somebody else and it starts to spread. It makes it optional for me to perform mixtape material worldwide instead of just New York. Like right now I can take Elephant In The Sand or Body Snatchers and tour the northeast. I can go through the west coast, any place, cause they got those CDs, its been downloaded from Thisis50 over a million times and we know once it’s on Thisis50.com, its on AllHipHop. Anything thats generating interest from the culture period ends up on these actual sites, whether its MediaTakeOut, a blog or ConcreteLoop or Bossip. I dont not mention where the content came from. We got links to send you straight to AllHipHop.com or to the different sites that are relevant. [G-Unit “Like A Dog”]
AllHipHop.com: The album is still slated for June 24th? [Ed. Note: Well, that was the release date when we interviewed them.]50 Cent: Yup.AllHipHop.com: Now, the Game is saying his albums coming out June 24th too.50 Cent: Its not. I pushed it back.Yayo: Its that easy.Lloyd Banks: Its that easy.
You have to consider the fact that Biggie and Tupac were both really influential people. 50 Cent is really influential and Game just exists. -50 CentAllHipHop.com: Youve had issues with with your label before, it ever seem like these dates were drummed up to spark beef and boost their overall sales? 50 Cent: In that case you have to consider the fact that Biggie and Tupac were both really influential people. Problem between Game and 50 Cent is 50 Cent is really influential and Game just exists. Hes just disgruntled, hes an offspring of me. Hes something that came from me, not something that established itself somewhere else. Biggie didnt have anything to do with the success of Tupac, Tupac had nothing to do with Biggie. They were both strong enough creative forces to generate a real problem between more than just them two. Youd get your ass kicked out here for wearing a L.A Dodgers hat and vice versa. You cant just be out there in certain spots, theyll be like get out of here with that New York s**t. That was a special time and climate. [Me and Game] having to go back and forth, theres nothing to go back and forth about. That situation has already been exhausted. Its clear, Games upset with 50, why? 50 didnt write the second record, it didnt sell. Sold five million when I did it. He did it 900,000?AllHipHop.com: Yall seem to excel and thrive from drama and beef 50 Cent: Do I excel from the drama, is that you asking me a question or telling me?
First of all theres no such thing as an independent deal where youre getting seven dollars a disc or I would be going somewhere not within my contractual agreements. -50 CentAllHipHop.com: Im asking a question. That being said, do you feel the beef overshadows the fact that all of you are dropping excellent music?50 Cent: No, it doesnt. Its obvious that that doesnt actually sell records. It didnt sell Fat Joes record, right? It did nothing for his actual record sales because if the audience hasnt actually bought into you as an actual artist, I dont give a f**k how hot youre song is, s**t aint going nowhere. And hes had hit records, hes had Lean Back, and the record he just put out wasnt terrible, it wasnt good because he was on it. If they had just J. Holiday and a new artist on that it would have sold a ton of ringtones but because it was him and the public already made a decision. The major record companies have decided hes not a good investment anymore, thats why hes forced to produce the material on his own. Check this out, first of all theres no such thing as an independent deal where youre getting seven dollars a disc or I would be going somewhere not within my contractual agreements. I would sign an artist to that deal and take him everywhere I got until hes hot and make a lot of money off him. Youre not going to get seven dollars a disc thats the first lie that they tell. Now if youre taking into consideration that video cost $200,000 to shoot for him and J. Holiday, then you take into account that they just shot a second music videothat was a mistake, his albums already at 3,000 copies a week, its , its over. Its aint goin to increase in sales. The last record that I seen from a Hip-Hop perspective increase in sales, that had a rapper on it be dead…it was the Soulja [Slim] record with Juvie, Slow Motion. He just spent an additional $200,000 on the next video. Now if you say the promo tour was about $200,000 for them to move around expenses for you to do you the marketing and radio, and everythings good and you say the cost of your posterboards and print advertisement and small campaign I seen he had something going on with he obviously had to pay some money for them to run the banners thats another $200,000, that put you at $800,000. Then just the basic expenses should put you at a full million dollars. Lets say his lie is true, give him the benefit of the doubt and say were gonna give him seven dollars a disc youre at 79,000 records right now and you just sold 3,000 records this week even if you were at 100,000 [sold] you would be $300,000 in the hole. So even the independent deal that he has gonna start feeling like its not worth supporting Fat Joe. Well keep losing with this guy. [G-Unit “I’m Bout That”]