Crew Love
They made history selling millions of records as hip-hop’s most successful crew and then broke up. Now six years later, the G-Unit brothers are back together and ready to take over hip-hop again.
Compiled by Vanessa Satten, Eric Diep and Miranda Johnson

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of XXL Magazine.

The May 2008 issue of XXL featured a cover story with hip-hop's ultimate crew, G-Unit. Led by 50 Cent, G-Unit served as both a rap clique and a record label that housed the three other core members of The Unit, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck. From 2002 to 2007 G-Unit ran the rap game with their overly aggressive attitudes, energy, actions and rhymes, selling over 20 million records as a group and as solo artists. They dominated hip-hop with hit albums and a constant flood of mixtapes while traveling around the globe to perform for fans anywhere.

But their success and familial unity was too good to be true. By 2008, G-Unit was plagued with whispers of dissension and disloyalty within the group and rumors that Buck was on his way out as he was noticeably absent from the G-Unit’s then newest mixtape Return Of The Body Snatchers. He’d also recently squashed beef with some of 50’s enemies such as Jadakiss and former G-Unit member The Game. In addition, Banks stayed uncharacteristically silent during 50’s then-recent skirmish with Cam’ron. To everyone, G-Unit didn’t have each other’s back anymore like they used to and it looked as if they might be on the brink of breakup.

The cover shoot for the May 2008 XXL happened earlier in the year in February. The shoot went down early in the day in Manhattan and the interviews happened at 50’s famed 52-room Farmington, Conn. mansion that night. Both acted as somewhat of an attempt by Fif to get the guys back together, as did their mixtape Elephant In The Sand, which they also recorded that night. Return Of The Body Snatchers h the first time the core four weren’t all featured on a G-Unit release. The goal was to have all of the artists on the tape since Buck had been absent on Return Of The Body Snatchers.

The feeling in the air was hostile as the guys, mostly Buck, went out of their way to avoid each other. Ironically that frigid February night was the last time they were all together for the next six years. Less than two months later, 50 announced on New York’s Hot 97 radio station that Buck was no longer part of G-Unit. By 2012, Banks and 50 weren’t communicating, and Yayo and 50 were on the outs. But since Yayo, Banks and Buck were still contractually signed to G-Unit Records as solo artists, they couldn’t go too far.

Yet the relationships weren’t over for the rap brothers. Sure the fans had given up hope of seeing everyone together again. So had the media. Things had all gotten messy and complicated for the artists, which made it seem like the idea of a reunion was impossible.

But that all changed when 50 hit the Hot 97 Summer Jam stage this past June and surprised the thousands of hip-hop heads in attendance by bringing Buck, Banks and Yayo out onstage with him along with new member, Kidd Kidd. New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium erupted with excitement. G-g-g-g-g-g-g-Unit was back.

Photo Credit: Tom Medvedich

On this sticky August afternoon, almost six-and-a-half years since that awkward and estranged February night, XXL is once again with G-Unit at 50’s house in Connecticut. Over the next 12-plus hours, they pose for photos and answer hard questions about the drama that temporarily broke The Unit.

Spirits are high as the guys seem genuinely happy to be together; a complete 180 from that night back in 2008. They eagerly talk about new music and the release of the newest EP, The Beauty Of Independence and the upcoming EP, The Beast Is G-Unit. It seems like the real deal, like despite all the drama this true band of hip-hop brothers has found the unity once again. —Vanessa Satten