Lloyd Banks

Beats: L
Lyrics: XL
Originality: L

Since dropping his underwhelming 2006 sophomore album, Rotten Apple, Lloyd Banks has largely been confined to the mixtape circuit. For the most part, that’s been a good thing. Because as his latest street album, V.5, proves once again, that the self-proclaimed Punch Line King is in his comfort zone in this arena.

Outside of several female-friendly tracks like “It’s Going Down,” the majority of V.5 is spent celebrating Banks’s abilities on the mic. For example, over the brooding piano keys of “Who’s Your Favorite,” the Queens MC brazenly raps that he’s “about as tight as rock ’n roll pants.” Elsewhere, on aggressive attempts like “Better You Know” and “Shitty City, Pt. 2,” where he raps, “The way I come off is stupid, the last one you wanna be in the booth with/My heart cold, I just ran over Cupid,” Banks is as bold and brash as he’s ever been.

Problem is, V.5 relies more on style than substance. This leaves tracks like “I Do” and “We Remain” sounding better suited for ’04 when the popularity of G-Unit was at its peak. But, if nothing else, his raps on the soulful “Big Bully” (“Weed all on him and then it dawned on him/The niggas they be callin’ the best, I moonwalk on ’em.”) is more than enough evidence that Banks is still one of the most talented rappers in the booth. —Chris Yuscavage