What’s it like to be G-Unit’s youngest in charge? Lloyd Banks has been flying around the world all year, making hits, making money, making time with the ladies. Lots of ladies. But as his new album says, he’s still Hungry For More. Get up-close and personal with a man on fire.

Words Vanessa Satten
Images Jeffery Salter

During this month’s cover shoot, Lloyd Banks sliced open his right forearm on the corner of a metal table. “I’m suing
XXL!” he said, dripping blood. “Get 50 on the phone, he’s better at that shit!”

Bandaged and clotted three hours later (he was just joking about the lawsuit—he’s gangsta, it was just a flesh wound), G-Unit’s Boy Wonder sat in a rented Mitsubishi Spider with Deputy Editor Vanessa Satten. By now, XXL readers are certainly familiar with Banks the artist (mixtape champ, punch line king, lyrical dynamo, etc.). Here’s a chance to get to know Banks the person—his feelings on his money, his family and blowing up in the game. Who would’ve thought he’d be so cool? And (hey, ladies!) he’s single.

XXL: Look at you—two videos on MTV. Two videos on the 106 & Park countdown.
I’m the first one to do that, I might add. I don’t want to toot my own horn but: Beep.

50’s pop success was so phenomenal. Do you feel pressure to sell something like, say, six million albums?
I feel I can, but I don’t necessarily think it’s gonna happen on the first album. With 50’s situation, he was blessed. But look at Twista. He’s been rapping since I was in elementary and he just now made it. He could’ve been quit.

Not really an “Overnight Celebrity.”
Far from it. He’s an over-decade celebrity. People say, “You’re gonna blow because of 50.” When people say that, it really makes me mad. Because I know how much work this takes. I know how much work he does. 50’s sold 10 million records worldwide and he’s still doing mixtapes. When he’s up thinking, I’m probably asleep. When I’m going to sleep at 7:30 a.m., he’s waking up. And for me to slack back ’cause he’s gonna pick the slack up? I may be lackadaisical, but it’s because of the habits that I had over time. Right now, I’m probably more focused than ever. 50 works in the system. He’ll tell you everything that you need to know. How far you take his advice will determine how far you’ll go.

I really, really have a lot of faith in 50. Because I never followed anybody. I’ve always been a leader. But to be a good leader, you have to be a follower at some point. You know how you got that one person that can override your decision? I’ve always been right, but 50’s also right a lot too. He’s the one that can overturn my opinion, ’cause he makes me look at something a whole different way.

But fuck him right now. It’s about you.
It’s all about me, but you know what? I tip my hat to a lot of new artists, the ones that did it by themselves.

Do you think the quality of the music is downnright now?
I think the production is at an all-time high, but there’s a lack of artists. New York City specifically, ’cause it’s hard to stand out. New York is one of the markets where you have to go to boot camp. Somebody can come from St. Louis and have one record and that’s enough. Why? Because somebody in New York will accept you, ’cause they don’t know your background. If you come from NYC and you ain’t hit the mixtapes, who the fuck are you?

It tripped me out. I was watching Puff Daddy’s Making The Band, and they was like, “We don’t want to go to the studio.” I’m like, “What the fuck? You must got a plan B.” This is not a hobby for me. I don’t know how to throw a football, so this is it. And it became what I like to do. I like to create music. I like to see people’s faces when they hear my music. But this is a job as well as something I enjoy.

What made you realize you’d blown up?
Snoop was my favorite of all time. Doing a song with Snoop made me feel like it was possible to have recorded with Biggie or Tupac. To be watching him since elementary school, and then to have this record with this dude, that makes me not count myself out. It makes me just look at myself and go, Whoa, it’s a possibility for me to be the best. 50’s got it, though. If you ask me who’s the King of New York: him. Regardless of what the past was, look what he did. But the people won’t give him that title. If you asked a bunch of rappers, “Who’s the King of New York?” you’d get so many different answers.

How do other rappers treat you?
I don’t really conversate with a lot. I’m not looking for friends. A lot of so-called beef is not beef, but misunderstanding. If you don’t know how to say “What’s up” to somebody, that turns into, “Why he didn’t say nothing to me?” A lot of times they want to be cool, but I don’t wanna be. I’m in it for the business. I got my friends. I don’t want to create no buddy system. You’re gonna get charged the same thing if I don’t know you. I don’t want to be so cool that we’re doing a swap, or you want to take that one for free. Nah, nigga, that’s what I’m in this for. If it was my choice, I’d keep it to the same circle I’ve got now, forever. I don’t need to know you. I do get a lot of respect from other rappers, though, as far as how they embrace my music. It’s cool ’cause I have rappers that I respect. And that’s all I ask for, outside of what the people would think.


Tell me something interesting.
I smoke a lot.

Okay. Well, I heard you’re half-Puerto Rican. That’s interesting. But you don’t rap about it much.
I don’t talk about being Black either. I’m not [rapping]: “I’m Black and I’m Black and I’m Black. I’m Black, I’m Black!” That’s something that would come up in a conversation with a female, most likely. I always initiate the question first, like, “What’ s your background?”

If she’s brown-skinned with slanted eyes and all this other shit, I’m like, “There’s something— so what are you?” Then she’ll ask me. And I’ll be like, “One-half Black and one-half Puerto Rican.” They need to know. That’s what makes me. If you looked at my mom you’d be like, Whoa. She’s real light, freckles. Do you get into the “mami, papi” thing? I love to be called “papi.” That’s when I’m like, “You know, ma, I’m Puerto Rican.”

What do you spend your money on?
I spend a lot of money on jewelry. As well as my mom’s jewelry and my grandmother’s. That’s the only thing that I can bring with me on the road. Everything else, I don’t see why I should rush into that.

You didn’t run out and get your own place?
50’s got a place and it’s got 60-something rooms, so no. I want to buy me a little spot near my mom’s crib, but they [my mother and my
grandmother] don’t wanna move. That house is all my grandma has to show for herself. It’s hard for her to leave. She’d rather me hook that house up, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Have you rushed out to buy a lot of cars?
I got one car, a 600 Benz.

But you don’t even drive. You get driven around everywhere.
Yeah, but when I get back off the road...You’re never getting off the road. I don’t know who you think you’re fooling. You ain’t gotta break my high! Just let me feel like I’m getting off the road so I can drive this thing. I want to chill for a minute.

Did you get killed with taxes?
I cried. You know why? ’Cause I’m stingy. I caught myself saving. I ain’t spending shit. I think Yayo coming home will make me spend more money.

So you won’t just be spending it on the fam?
It’s even worse now, ’cause now my mom wants everything possible. You see how Puffy’s mom is out there?

Are you gonna get her a blond wig?
I won’t let her do certain things. ’Cause she’ll get out there, she’ll be having the big-ass heels. I won’t allow her to go all the way out. Honestly, I really cannot tell that woman “No.” At the end of the day, that’s what I’m doing this for. My grandmother knows everywhere I’ve been. I can call from New Zealand or Switzerland from a certain town and she’ll go, “That’s right next to... You should ask them to take you to go see...” I don’t get to go, but recently I’ve been giving her the money to go wherever shewants to go.

Do you have brothers or sisters?
I got two brothers. The older one is 15, the other one is eight.

Imagine if Banks is your brother and you’re just some kid. Kinda funny, right?
If I wasn’t his brother I would still be his favorite rapper. So when he looks at me sometimes I gotta smack him in the head like, “Hey nigga, it’s me.” And he thinks he’s a star now, being in the videos. Both my brothers was in the “Smile” video as me growing up.

Your interview skills are better than when we first met. You have to have a real personality now. Have you been practicing for this?
Before I say the wrong thing, I won’t say nothing. Back when 50 first came out, everyone was asking me things and I didn’t want to answer questions prematurely. They asked me, “Is he only gonna be a good artist on mixtapes?” “Can he make songs?” I want that question to come now when my album comes out on the 29th of June, 2004. I didn’t need to answer that question on the 29th of June, 2002.

So you’ve been plotting and planning this?
Say that I’m just completely shy. What are the odds of you being one of the most popular artists if you never want to show your face and you don’t want to do interviews? Those are the sacrifices that I have to make. You might hear me be more outspoken than before. And it’s because I have to be.

Do you cater your music in the same way? Like, who do you rap for? The ladies?
I’m rapping for everybody. I never catered to the females. That was something that I did real good because of my personal experience with females. You’ll know when I’m doing it.

But guys like the shoot-’em-up, bang-bang shit. With girls, you’re gonna be talking about some other stuff.
That’s why I throw a twist on. My record that might cater to the females is still not the loveydovey side. It’s gonna give you the real, so a dude could be driving his car and still feel it.

So say you and I are getting intimate and I want to put on R&B, right? I mean, does the rap love song work? Like “Smile.” Can rap be romantic?
Yes, it can. I have a monotone [voice] so when I’m doing a record like that, it stays to one pitch, it doesn’t go too high or low so it’s relaxing. I don’t use a lot of melodies in those kinds of records. I usually have an R&B artist come in and do the cadence. If I was singing it in my voice it would still be monotone. Rap can be romantic. Everything doesn’t have to be R. Kelly or Ginuwine.

So you have sex to rap all the time?
I don’t listen to music when I do it. Sometimes girls ask me to, but I’ll be like, “No.” You know why girls do that? They want the music on so you can’t tell if they’re breathing heavy. Nah, lights off, everything silent. I’ma hear you moan inside.

You get girls like crazy now, I’ve seen them hanging off of you. Did you always get girls or just since all this?
I always got girls. I never approached females. The majority of numbers I got were from females that gave them to me. I would probably let a girl pass by. She might’ve been the one, but I would let her pass by before I would say something. I was the one that if you were in the room, I’d be in the corner. But you’d most likely end up talking to me first because I seem like the one to talk to.

So what do you look for in a woman?
I like attitude, but I’ve always been picky. I’ve always been attracted to a pretty face. I’m a booty man too. I like breasts too, a lot. There’s nothing wrong with titties. Titties are beautiful. They’re put here for me.

Especially for you...
And the woman. So they’re shared. They’re really yours and mine. They snuggly and cuggly and all that.

You never just want one woman?
I feel like that’s something that can find me. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a lot of female friends. ’Cause I’ve never had to lie to a female, ’cause I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had to tell a girl, “Oh, I was with my homeboy last night.” I could just tell a bitch, “Look, I was with Sonia last night and that’s why I couldn’t come see you…” My mother is 39 years old. The reality is she may never get married. And knowing is half the battle. When you accept that... Just because you stay a virgin ’til you’re 21 doesn’t mean that you’re gonna find your Prince Charming and then you’re gonna get married with a big white dress and your family there. You might just have someone who’s your soul mate and you have kids with them and that’s what it is—the way my moms and my pops did. I’d rather somebody be my friend and watch me make my mistakes as opposed to me lying and saying, “You’re the only one.” I don’t want to do that. I got enough male enemies. I don’t need no female enemies.

So you’ve got the money, the girls, the talent. What’s missing?
I want to have kids. I’m really good with kids. I love kids. I need to have kids. Like now, for real.

So you’re on a mission to find a baby’s mama?
No. I’m gonna be the biggest hoe in hip-hop until I find her. But if I could say that there’s one thing missing, that’s the one thing.

Any last things you wanna say?
Young Buck coming out of Ca$hville July 27. Hottest thing coming out of the South— period. And I’m still single. Ladies, holla at me if you feel me. And I want to say thank you to 50 for really giving me the opportunity to show the world what I can do.