The Gotham City Gangsters… Whatever you want to call them—it doesn’t matter, I simply want Lloyd Banks, Fabolous, and Juelz Santana to put out a group album.
Now before you throw a hissy fit and say it won’t happen, I need you to be quiet and listen carefully. These days, everyone is making super groups. Jay-Z brought in Trey Songz and Jeezy for his newly minted Mob Squad. Lupe Fiasco enlisted Asher Roth, B.O.B., Wale, Charles Hamilton (assuming he escapes the institution), Blu, J. Cole, and the Cool Kids to form his All City Chess Club. CRS consists of Lupe, Kanye, and Pharrell. We already know about Slaughterhouse. Apparently, there’s a group called Ocean’s 7, which is made up of ringleader Jermaine Dupri, Nelly, Usher, Trey Songz, Johnta Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox, and some other guy. And, don’t forget about Mos Def’s Center Edge Territory, which includes Jay Electronica and Currency (sorry C-note, but I’m not typing the dollar sign in your name, it’s not a good look. What, you don’t believe me? Okay, then tell me how it worked out for All $tar).
Now going back to the Gotham City Gangsters or GCG for short. Banks might be on the verge of retaking the mainstream with his Hunger For More 2 album, especially after BBB and his work with Kanye. However, Fabolous has been quietly suffering from lackluster sales lately (stop spending all of your time on Twitter and get into the studio!), while Juelz can’t put out a hit record for the life of him (see “Days of Our Lives,” “Back to the Crib,” “Mixin Up the Medicine”).
I think that with the hype he has right now, Banks can make this trio happen and get NY back into it. Jay’s “Empire State of Mind” was the launching pad. We need someone to take the baton already. Fabolous’s career started off hot, but he has since stalled like a ’98 Explorer leaving the Yankee Stadium parking lot after a playoff game. Grieving music was okay, but does not compare to his Clue days.
Juelz doesn’t have the same respect as Banks or the same history as Fab, but he has potential. He gets slack for his “nursery rhyme” lyrics, but his delivery is one of the best in the game. The problem with Juelz is that he struggles when he’s not competing. His best work was I Can’t Feel My Face with Weezy. I’m absolutely convinced that if one were to lock Juelz into the studio with Banks and Fab, the punch lines would explode out of him as if Big L himself descended from the heavens into the session.
Red Café would need to be an affiliate. He’s the realest rapper from New York. We know this because when listening to his drug trade lyrics, one gets the feeling that Red knows exactly what he’s talking about. What he lacks for in lyrics, he makes up for with truth.
Now imagine the production side of this group. I’m assuming a super group of this stature would have its choice in producers. (Speaking of super group stature, the word super group has been bandied about too recklessly. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Slaughterhouse, as well as, uh, Center Edge Territory…)
I would not want Kanye, Dre, Pharell, or Timbaland. Why? Because they wouldn’t bring out the best from the GCG. I would definitely go with Just Blaze, for at least four or five tracks. I have yet to hear Banks over a Just track, and both Fab and Juelz have done well with him (“Breathe” and “Second Coming,” respectively). It could be dope. Additionally, I think Needlz would be good for a few gritty cuts.
Now before you say “Premier would be perfect for this album,” let me remind you that people always want Premier for every New York rapper. However, I feel like Premier isn’t always the best fit. While he does represent NY hip-hop from a production standpoint, his collaboration depends on the artist. For Nas and maybe even 50, he would work. But in a bar for bar type setting in which tracks would be punched out like Arturo Gatti in the ring, I’m not so sure.
The surprise producer who might be a risk would be newcomer Lex Luger. Imagine this trio spitting over a dark Luger beat? I know the kid is new, but his beats from Flockaveli were absolutely filthy. That they carry a Southern taste would make it so much more interesting. Sure, it’s a risk, sort of like when you’re like at the supermarket parking lot and you finish packing the items from the cart into your car, you roll the cart toward the cart depot, all the while hoping that it doesn’t crash into another car with the owner walking towards you. But if you successfully roll it into the depot, it’s a very satisfying feeling. Risky, but all the more satisfying. That’s sort of how it would be bringing these three guys into the booth with Luger. It would also help give the album some Southern appeal, this way the Confederate States don’t feel left out.
The one issue with this group album might be the contracts. Luckily, Fab and Juelz are both on Def Jam. So it would be up to Banks, and probably depends on the type of contract he signed with EMI. So I ask the rap gods, please make this album happen. If not, I might be subjected to, gulp, Ocean’s 7. —Shlomo