I t's probably a safe bet to say Lloyd Banks has been with more women than your average 24 year old. The G-Unit soldier lives a lifestyle many people merely dream about, admit it or not. He's won Adult Video News awards, he's partied with Hugh Hefner, and he's just gotten the green light to star in his own TV show on The Playboy Channel. Meanwhile, his latest single, My House, a walk-through tour of Banks estate, is steadily gaining spins with DJs across the nation. Things are seemingly looking pretty good for G-Unit's boy wonder.
But there's a storm of uncertainty brewing beneath the surface of all this success. The last G-Unit release by Tony Yayo failed to achieve platinum status and Mobb Deeps acclaimed opus, Blood Money, has struggled for a place in the top chart spots. For an imprint that boasted platinum-plus sales for Banks, Young Buck and the sales phenom, 50 Cent, these struggles may be an omen of less festive times. As rocket fuel, for the first time in G-Unit history, Banks recruited some high profile collaborations from outside the camp that are certain to turn a few heads. Hes also got a diss record aimed at D-Block and Terror Squad that could shake things cataclysmicly across the five boroughs and beyond. if he lets it loose. Selling records is serious business, and ain't a damn thing funny, even for a G-Unit playboy.
AllHipHop.com: G-Unit always collaborates heavily with G-Unit. On your next album, were there any collaborations outside of the camp that you took part in?
Lloyd Banks: Actually, the album is not stamped yet - aint no doors closed to features that could actually happen for crunch time. But, as we speak now, I got Scarface on the album; I got 8Ball on the album; I got Rakim on the album. I got a few. Thats a lot for somebody who doesnt do a lot of features, you know what Im sayin? I got a couple more; I just dont wanna pull names out the hat. Id rather wait until its on paper.
AllHipHop.com: A couple months ago, some of your tracks got leaked, including a song you had with Scott Storch, and they were put on the Internet. Now, some think that leaks help careers, others think that it hurts them. How do you think it affected your career?
Lloyd Banks: I dont think it affected me because I never stop recording. Even in preparation for this album here, Im over the limit. Theres gonna be 16 records for this album, and I have over 60 records in preparation for it. I think all things happen for a reason, at the same time. If the records were leaked out, then, maybe it was supposed to be. If it didnt get leaked out, who knows? Maybe some of them would be on the [record]. It also keeps you up at the same time. You gotta have two albums, in preparation. You might not be able to clear samples. When I had the original Im So Fly, Nottz produced it. I couldnt clear the sample. I had to take the acapella and send it to Timbaland, and he came back with the [official] Im So Fly beat. Its always good to have backup records.
AllHipHop.com: There was a rumor that a groupie leaked it, and there was a rumor that a girlfriend leaked it. Which one of them was true?
Lloyd Banks: I dont got a girlfriend, so, if anything gets stolen, its some b*tch that wasnt supposed to be ya nahmean? That comes from actually doing too much, man. You got one lady over here and you got one lady over there. I dont wanna seem like a dog, but those were just situations I was in. It would be me and three b*tches in the bed at one time, and, you might have too much to smoke, ya nahmean, and, wake up and your s**t would be missing. S**t like that is [no different] from [losing] a chain or watch. Mistakes happen, and you gotta move on from your mistakes.
AllHipHop.com: So, whats up with this Bleu Hefner persona you got? I know the Hefner part, where does the Bleu come from?
Banks on Blue Hefner
Lloyd Banks: You know what it is? I changed my diamonds. I actually had a whole set of green diamonds, and, one by one, I started seeing dudes with green stones in they chains, and I started getting mad. I took it offensively because I know I started [the trend]; I know when I did it at. I was like, you know what, Im gonna change my color man. I turned it to blue, its one of my favorite colors. I couldnt be Hugh Hefner, theres already one of those dudes, so, I [became] Bleu Hefner. I actually am working on a Playboy deal right now, so, its all gonna make sense. It started off as something I was playing with. I got a million akas: Iceon Beckford, Ni**a Rachi, New Diamonds [Bleu Hefner] just stuck because I was having meetings with the Playboy people at the same time.
I already did the Groupie Love thing, and, after I won the [2005 AVN Award for Best Music], I spoke to Hugh Hefner, and he was just congratulating me and telling me what I have achieved, if I didnt know what it was, and how much impact I have on that market. Were in talks right now and its gonna all make sense. Hes Hugh Hefner, and Ill be the New Hefner. Its a dope market and its not like Im pushing it all the time.
AllHipHop.com: But, is it porn that youre pushing?
Lloyd Banks: No. The Playboy thing is not porn. Even their porn is like, soft porn. It will be more like a TV series. I would be me. Theyd just follow me on the road, you know what Im saying? I do so many shows and you meet so many women. What it is, is, now Im having a talent search while Im on tour. I felt like, Im meeting all these girls, and then at the end of the day, they gotta be worth something more than me just going to bed with them. A lot of them be looking for lanes to get into modeling or videos and things of that sort. Im also looking for actual talent as far as music goes. So, its like a big talent search. At the same time, itll be like, a weeks worth of shows following me throughout the road and seeing real situations that go on. I might put out a calendar, or, I might just have 12 different models picked out of hundreds or thousands of girls. Its something that will make [touring] more interesting. Ill have a reason to be around all those women, you know, more than one reason. I can get money off [them] too.
AllHipHop.com: With the exception of Game, you are the only G-Unit artist outside of 50 to go multiplatinum. I mean, Yayo hasnt done it and Mobb Deep, I just found out, did a worse first week [in sales] than their last album which wasnt on G-Unit they havent reached your sales record yet. How do you explain that, if you all have the same base?
Banks On Rumors G-Unit is Over Except for him
Lloyd Banks: Its a time and place for everything. If you look at the music, it all swung to the South real fast, you know what Im saying, and it starts off like a tornado. It starts off somewhere then it ends off somewhere. The Mobb Deep album is a great album. All projects dont work the same. The same way my career started off multiplatinum, some of the best artists we look up to today started off with Gold albums.
AllHipHop.com: Youre a New Yorker. Is that tornado something youre gonna have to reverse right now? Because we have a Southern trend
Lloyd Banks: I think you gotta just stay relevant. You gotta think: when 50 came out, there was a lotta other artists too. You have to just represent where you come from. Thats why the name of my album is Rotten Apple. New York City: When you see me, you see the Statue of Liberty chain, you see the G-Unit City chain. I been doing that. Thats not just now, that was when my album came out [that] I got that piece made. Its just a coincidence that, I had all those pieces done up. Theyre really looking for somebody to bring New York you know what Im saying [to] have that energy.
AllHipHop.com: So, Mobb Deep didnt do that then?
Lloyd Banks: I mean, I felt like they did. I felt like the energy was crazy. I got Mobb Deep on two records on my album. That shows you right there. Actually, theyre on the first record on my album. The pressures on me. Im not in competition with anybody, for what I do. Youre all artists. Youre all good in certain ways. I just feel like, for what I do, and my lyrical talents, I dont think theres anybody, anybody thats out there that can deal with me on any level. So, thats what Im a do. Im a make you listen to mixtape verses on the radio.
AllHipHop.com: Theres a rumor that 50s holding you back because youre nicer than him. Can you address that please?
Banks On 50 Cent Holding Him Back
Lloyd Banks: No, my album comes out July 18th [laughs]. You know what? Its crazy, but I love those people. I love all fans, man. You know what it is? At first, it was 50 Cent fans. But then, the 50 Cent fans would filter in to me and Tony Yayo. Then, Buck came along theres Buck fans that probably say the same thing about me! But, at the end of the day, believe me, when 50 hears somebody say that, it makes him smile because he created me. He gave me that lane. Hes the one that told me, No, were gonna put you out as a solo artist. I was just comfortable being in the group, cause thats how we grew up together. I thought me and Yayo was gonna be a group at one point. [50 set us straight]. We havent even sat down and made a record to date. To this day, I have yet to sit down and write a record with the whole crew, since a freestyle. All the records [we make are like] Yo, thats the beat, aight, I got a verse. And it comes together. I wouldnt say Im cheating myself, but, in a way, we are. We aint actually worked like that. I got my studio in my crib, 50 got a studio in his house, Buck got one in his crib.
AllHipHop.com: So you never really collaborate like a group, you just send verses in to each other, like that?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. When youre around each other so much man, youre always in the same vain. You develop the same ear almost, so I might [use] the same beat 50 might pick, or vice-versa. Its not that hard for us to work, man. Believe it or not, [collaborating in person] hasnt been done, but, it will happen in the future.
AllHipHop.com: Did Game click well with you also under that formula?
Lloyd Banks: I never clicked with dude. I think he was intimidated of me just based on my lyrical abilities. Its one thing to say a whole versethats cooland its another thing for n***as to be like, Hold up, bring that s**t back. What the f**k did he just say? I think he was really infatuated with that [quality I have].
AllHipHop.com: Im gonna play devils advocate and say that the songs you made with him were goodand it sounded like you clicked. Some would say youre only saying this after the fact, now that hes gone.
Lloyd Banks: He was never really crew. I think he had too many insecurities within himself. He wanted to be too many different things at one time and, the respect wasnt there, and I never clicked with him. Sometimes, I wish I would have went upside his head while he was there but, I tried to keep it crew, and embrace everybody. It was a bad situation. If you look at it now, its evident. Just look at the tattoo situation. You put a tattoo on your face and then cover it up? If I put that [butterfly] tattoo on my f**kin face, period, [even] without covering it up, my credibility is squashed. Its like certain things you cant do, and thats one of them. My mother would look at that s**t and be like, What the f**k?
AllHipHop.com: His album is dropping around the same time as yours. What do you think about that?
Lloyd Banks: Oh, thatll be exciting. You think that? [laughs] You think his album is gonna come out the same time as mine?
AllHipHop.com: It might.
Lloyd Banks: Thats cool. [laughs]. I tip my hat.
AllHipHop.com: You got a song on the next album, and from what I hear, its called Death Wish. Is that true? Is it going at The Lox, Terror Squad and Fat Joe?
Lloyd Banks: It was tied in to the preparation for the album, but its not stamped in yet. [Disses aimed at me] are like a catch-22 because the fans wanna hear your response, but at the same time, I juggle with whether I wanna put it out nationally or on a mixtape. On a mixtape, I can get on there and say what I want to say. [But] once you do it on an album, thats going out worldwide, then you giving them worldwide notoriety. All those are options, depending on what theyre trying to do. N***as hear Im coming back out, they salty cause theyre broke and dont got no album coming out [and] they might wanna say something. If they say something, then Ima drop the A-Bomb on them n***as. They havent heard me do it yet. They havent heard me go in. I will end n***as careers.
AllHipHop.com: Is that the song, Death Wish? You think thats the one?
Lloyd Banks: Only one word can turn into a diss record. I dont write no song about nothing, about no n***a. Itll just be one line and itll be enough to knock you out. Listen. Youre gonna know. Youre gonna hear about it. I aint heard s**t now, since they know Im back on the market. I was falling back, trying to get my s**t straight. Let a n***a say my name right now, at this point. Tomorrow, day after, and Im gonna publicly humiliate you. Thats it.