Lloyd Banks has been quiet lately.
Since the October ’06 release of Rotten Apple, the baritone-voiced MC hasn’t said much. Not even the infamous February ’07 phone conversation between Cam’ron and 50, in which the Dipset chief scoffed at Banks’ record sales, resulted in a peep from the punch-line king. A lack of response to a public diss didn’t sound like the same rapper that would lyrically assault Ja Rule at every turn during G-Unit’s beef with Murder Inc. years back. For some reason, the Southside killer opted to remain silent. That is, until now. It’s around 9:30 p.m. when the 25-year-old MC saunters into 50’s “Gucci room,” plops down on one of the plush designer couches, leans back and starts talking.
Why haven’t we heard from Lloyd Banks in so long?
When all the little bickerin’ back and forth with Cam’ron, and every other rap crew that had a problem with the Unit was saying shit… To be honest with you, I wasn’t thinkin’ ’bout that shit.
Why not? G-Unit is known for welcoming beef.
I was going through a lot at that time. My pops had just died, like, two weeks after [Rotten Apple] came out. I’ve had a lot of close friends of mine who’ve passed since I got on, but if you’re still in that environment, that’s nothin’ new… But when it happens to your mother or your father, it kinda affects you in a certain way.
Damn. How exactly did your pops pass?
He passed of a cocaine overdose. He had heart conditions… My mother was in the hospital, after suffering from two heart attacks in the same month. I had all this shit going on, and then you still gotta be held to that “bad guy” aura that’s around G-Unit… After my father passed, I just needed a couple of months of alone time.
That’s totally understandable. Do you think fans took that into consideration?
50 told me all the time that this industry has no remorse. They don’t give a fuck about none of that shit. They just wanna hear the record. You can look at it as a mistake for fallin’ back, but that is not some shit you plan for.
The music is better now, though. I’m active now. You gonna hear me on remixes, whether it’s done legit or if I gotta jack it myself. My goal this year is to expose what’s really not hot. People are gettin’ lyricist credit that they don’t really deserve… I’m not lettin’ up off of nobody. What they consider to be hot—that shit comes to me like that [Snaps finger]… If you got a lil’ record that’s gettin’ spun, I’m lookin’ forward to gettin’ on it and doing it better than you. And anybody that got anything to say, I’m on ’em. By the end of the year, they’ll say that that nigga Banks is no joke.
How do you feel when people say they were disappointed with Rotten Apple?
You’re never gonna make another first album. Music marks time. So when that album comes out, you’re gonna know where you were in your life and what you were doing. I didn’t wanna do another Hunger for More. I felt, lyrically, that I was better than ever—and I feel like I’m better at this point. Nothin’ stays the same forever. I just think that people expect to hear some shit to blow their mind every time. I guess sometimes you may amaze niggas, and other times you might not.
There haven’t been mixtapes before any of the last few G-Unit releases. Why do Body Snatchers now?
To be perfectly honest, man, nothin’ else would be accepted. People wanna hear that shit. They wanna be reminded why we hold the position that we hold. It wasn’t by mistake. It came from the grind—not havin’ a Plan B. We go into the studio with that same mentality. That’s what incites me.
The new material is very aggressive. Will you be addressing the rappers that came at you last year?
Believe me, they’ll pay this year. ’Cause nothin’ falls upon deaf ears. If you’ve never shook my hand or never had any altercation with me, then don’t say nothin’ about me. Everybody is competition. There ain’t no more, “He ain’t worth it.”
Tony Yayo’s never been quiet.
If he’s in the vicinity, chances are you’ll hear him before you actually see him. At 11:15 p.m., having just wrapped a scene for one of the several videos being shot tonight, the clique’s most troublesome member holds court in the lounge area just in front of 50’s personal discotheque, Club TKO. Cracking jokes with the film crew, Yayo’s infectious laugh travels around the many corners of his boss’s abode. Based on his jovial demeanor, one would never guess this is the same man who was just facing nine months in jail (again) for allegedly backhanding the 14- year-old son of The Game’s manager, Jimmy “Henchmen” Rosemond, in March 2007. (In February, the charges were dismissed, when G-Unit associate Lowell Fletcher accepted blame for the assault. Yayo received 10 days of community service for harassment.)
With a shot of Hennessy in one hand and a freshly rolled blunt in the other, the self-proclaimed “Talk of New York” ascends the spiral staircase up to the theater room. Taking a seat in the front row, he fires up the chronic. “You can talk to me about whatever.” He exhales. “Fat Joe, Game, Henchmen… I don’t care.”
Since you brought it up, what happened with the Henchmen case?
I never did it in the first place. You know, niggas make scandals, and it’s crazy how newspapers was slayin’ me, yo. Sayin’ that shit was close to child molestation, and everybody had me guilty before they even knew what the fuck happened… I didn’t smack him. I’m a fuckin’ millionaire, and I got kids myself…I’m aware that, if I smack somebody, I’ma have a lawsuit. So why would I do it?
Did you hear that Henchmen’s baby mama wants a public apology and said that 50 shouldn’t associate with you because your actions are “despicable”?
Why should I give a public apology for somethin’ I didn’t even do? And a lot of people think 50 shouldn’t associate with me. Who gives a fuck? Fuck what they think. I’m me, man, and I’ma do what I wanna do. Fif is my nigga. I’ma listen to Fif. He’s the businessman in this shit. If a nigga got a problem with Fif, he got a problem with me. Any nigga. Fat Joe, Game, Henchmen—the list goes on and on.
Why do you think people started hating on the Unit?
Because niggas didn’t make it. Look at Fat Joe fat ass. I remember hearing Jealous Ones Envy eons ago. And, truthfully, niggas financially don’t have this [Spreads arms out]. I’m not tryna brag about what I got, ’cause I feel like God blessed me, but niggas don’t have movie theaters and strip clubs in they crib. Niggas don’t have Bentleys outside… See, the thing about a lot of these niggas is they RNs. Not registered nurses—they regular niggas. Me, 50, Banks, Buck—we special kinda niggas. I know I’m definitely a special kinda nigga. ’Cause the shit I been through, none of these niggas could walk through my shoes. None of ’em.
Recently, the Internet’s been buzzing about problems between Buck and 50. What’s your take on all of it?
I think sometimes Buck just be buggin’ out and makes excuses for shit. Just to be honest with you. Because, we all have luxury cars, luxury women, and take luxury trips. There’s nothin’ to really complain about. Me? I’m a gangsta. I came from nothin’. I came from a 9-by-5 cell right into this shit, so I look at shit totally different from other niggas. And you know Buck is my nigga, but sometimes niggas make mistakes.
If what Buck was doing was wrong, how come he didn’t get booted out of G-Unit, like Game?
Because Buck is more of a family member to us. Game was more of a business situation. I look at Game as a faggot-ass nigga, but Buck’s like family. Everybody make mistakes, but the nigga’s back, and we doing our thing. The nigga never went nowhere, truthfully.
People would look at 50 as the bad guy. But compared to all the other CEOs and the people that run businesses—the Diddys? Them dudes is coldhearted. They’ll get rid of you [Slaps hands] like that. 50 never did that to none of us. Really think about it.