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Lloyd Banks Gets Introspective But Struggles To Connect On ‘F.N.O (Failure’s No Option)’ Mixtape

After some delays, Lloyd Banks released his F.N.O (Failure’s No Option) mixtape,the first of three planned mixtapes from his A.O.N (All Or Nothing) series. F.N.O. arrives over three years after the 31-year-old rapper’s last studio album, H.F.M. 2 which featured Banks’ biggest hit in his career so far, “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley.” While Banks has released two mixtapes since then, 2011’s The Cold Corner 2 and 2012’s V. 6: The Gift, F.N.O. is Banks’ chance to show and prove what he is made of. Instead of following a similar formula and theme of his materialistic hit song, Banks takes the introspective route with this project.

Banks starts up the mixtape with the track “The Natural,” which opens with a brief spoken word passage: “Certain things you can just count on: the Apple is going to keep rising, music is going to stay grimey, and failure’s no option.” Banks’ shows that he understands that music is a war, and that if he is going to be a part of this game, he must be prepared to win and quitting—or worse, losing—are not even choices. The album continues with anthems about perseverance. He repeatedly reminds the listener of his tenacity through lyrics like “Feel like I’m boxed in, only wins will bring the comfort to me” (“Failure’s No Option”) and “In this world where everything ain’t enough and everything is a must/I remind you all it’s easy to get caught in the rush” (“Reminder”).

Although F.N.O. has powerful moments of hard-headed determination, where the project fails is its lack of progressiveness and timeliness. At best, a mixtape like this should provide a glimpse into an artist’s worldview, discuss current issues within the rap game and society, or display a new stylistic approach. While Banks takes a good shot at these tasks, his lack of vulnerability about his triumphs and failures makes too many tracks on this mixtape forgettable. There are several tracks that have potential to go below the surface, but only skim it. For instance, on “Cover Me” he says “Gucci sweater covers up the holes in my back.” But with little explanation on who stabbed in him the back or specific details about experiences of betrayal, the listener takes little away from Banks’ story.

While Banks emphasizes that winning is the only choice, he doesn’t showcase enough proof that he’s going to earn the gold. He shows how he has a heart of a lion, but doesn’t push the narrative forward enough. While many of his lines from F.N.O. will show up on Twitter for the next month as people address their “haters,” the mixtape doesn’t leave much of a sonic imprint beyond those platitudes. In a year when it seems as if every heavy weight in the game has put out a revealing body of work, Banks might want to dig a little deeper before the next installment in this series. –Ariana LaBarrie

  • popeye crunk

    first the bun b album now this
    RIP XXL

  • BillyBobJohn

    TERRIBLE REVIEW XXL NEEDS TO STEP THEIR GAME UP I BET THIS CHICK LISTENS TO DRAKE

  • JawnsOnDeck

    this is absolutely the worst review. obviously this author is not a fan of lyrical rap, or well-read in the history of hip hop as a whole. RIP to the bohl XXL

  • Taskforce Taylor

    SMH

  • FELIX

    F.N.O IS ONE OF THE BEST MIXTAPES OUT THIS YEAR

  • EvilNicca

    Y’all bitch ass niggas just some wack, gay, dick-in-the-booty Lloyd Skanks dickriders. Fuck Lloyd “No More” Banks. Dude is trash. He ain’t eating. RIP G-Unit.

  • PRINCE 18

    THIS IS THE WORST REVIEW EVER…

  • Andrew

    Who ever wrote this review shouldn’t be able to review anything again. This mixtape from banks is a classic. There is like one song on here that’s suspect, the rest of the tape is crazy. Banks is smart for some people, his rhymes must of went over this person head. The author wrote…. For instance, on “Cover Me” he says “Gucci sweater covers up the holes in my back.” But with little explanation on who stabbed in him the back or specific details about experiences of betrayal, the listener takes little away from Banks’ story. … Banks is just saying I got shot in the back not stabbed you idiot and he just making an reference that Gucci and louvie sweater cover them up now. That means he’s a good space now. That author is stupid that like banks saying 2 + 2 = 4 and then I say here you get the equal sign from LOL. 4.5/5 for banks 4/5 is still good though.

  • Steve Jaggz

    Banks killed it….XXL editors are a bunch of idiots.

  • mmcfly

    lyrics get 3! hahahaha
    Top 5 mixtape of the year, and no im not just a big banks fan that is butt hurt about this review. Its top 5 mixtapes of the year. (period)

  • bread

    this review is A JOKE….top 5 mixtapes of the year easily

  • YANKEE__MATT

    Thank God I read the comments below from REAL LISTENERS,, cause XXL almost had me depressed that Lloyd Banks album was average lol

  • WhatFelixSaid

    this DEF deserves an XL. Lloyd Banks in his prime

  • that dude

    Honestly. This was by far the best mixtape I have heard in a VERY, VERY long time. Actually he shoulda just waited and dropped this as an album. This was better than some of 50′s albums and y’all gave him a better review and a higher rating. A sad day for XXL in hip hop. R.I.P Mandela, btw!!!!

  • DLloyd1985

    SMH REALLY? THIS PERSON NEEDS TO BE FIRED FOR THIS FUCKERY! AND THE THING THAT REALLY GETS ME IS AN L FOR LYRICS? BANKS BE GOING OVER THESE SUB-HUMAN MOTHERFUCKERS HEAD! THIS IS AN XL EASILY!

  • James

    This mixtape deserves an XL at the VERY LEAST. Can’t even tell what the fuck shorty was listening to but I can’t name too many full fledged albums that were better than this tape. I don’t knock hustles but…………….retire.