Lloyd Banks
As one of the main driving forces behind 50 Cent’s G-Unit, Lloyd Banks has secured a name for himself in the rap industry. Ranging from his chart-topping first single “On Fire” to his new Eminem produced single “Hands Up”, he knows the right formula to make hit record. Check out this exclusive interview with Lloyd for WHO?MAG as he speaks on Eminem, Proof, and his new album “Rotten Apple”.
interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: What makes Lloyd Banks different from other MC’s?
LLOYD BANKS: I feel I got my own name and recognition and I solidified my spot. I feel I have a voice in hip-hop. I am very creative. I feel my material speaks for itself from my underground material all the way to my commercial success. I feel that I got my spot in hip-hop at the same time. My first album did well so I’m just looking forward to my second, my third, fourth, and my fifth and creating a legacy.

WHO?MAG: How did you get down with G-Unit?
LLOYD BANKS: I was actually bred into that. As far and me, Tony Yayo, and 50 Cent, we all grew up together. That’s how I got down with G-Unit. We all knew each other from the hood and we decided to do things together and we have been together ever since. Now we’re about 4-5 years strong. That’s how it came about. It came from childhood friends and then we made it big. I actually feel blessed to actually be in this industry. It’s good to be around people who you know all have your best interest and vice versa.

WHO?MAG: Tell us about your new album “Rotten Apple?”
LLOYD BANKS: “Rotten Apple” man. You can expect that September 19th. It is actually the album that people have been waiting on whether they know it or not. This is the album that takes it back to the essence of New York City hip-hop. It’s the hardcore with the mixtape material. Everything got mixed into this album. The difference between this album and the first album is basically growth and the music is better as I get older and experienced and also by having a studio in the comfort of my own home. It gives me the time to be a perfectionist. I can change what I want and do what I want. Those kinds of things don’t come easy when you record your album on the road like I did the first one. This time I had the opportunity to really sit down and focus on the material.

WHO?MAG: Who are some of the features you have on this album?
LLOYD BANKS: As far as production goes, I have Eminem on there. I got two joints from him. I am trying to squeeze a third one in there before the deadline. I also got two from HAVOC and two from Ron Browz. He actually did a record called “Playboy Pt II” for people familiar with “Playboy” off my first record. I got Fatin who did the “Cake” record, I got Timberland, I got Nicksby out of Detroit, I got Black Jeruz, Sha Money XL, the production is tight! I rather make a big time producer than a producer make me because it’s just another lane that lets critics to criticize you based of that success. I kind of just wanted to stick to the format that I have been sticking to. I wanted to have my own sound. I didn’t want anyone to dictate how I sound. I don’t want to have a sound; I just want to have quality material. As far as rappers are concerned, I have pretty much my whole crew. That doesn’t leave much room for other rappers. But outside my circle, I have Rakim, Scarface, 8 Ball, Musiq Soulchild, and a few more I don’t want to speak about now. I have some key features, man.

WHO?MAG: Tell me about your new single “Hands Up”.
LLOYD BANKS: Hands up. That’s Eminem’s track. He did it again. He actually produced the first single off my first album “On Fire”. So it was only right for him to do the first single off my second album. Rest in peace to Proof now while I’m on that subject. I was down there for the funeral services. Em was going through that situation and it was very sad and unfortunate situation that took place. It’s hard to get over things like that. Once Em got back into the studio, one of the first things that he did was make my record. I tip my hat off to him. He’s a creative genius. It came out sounding like something no one else has ever done. I just shot the video two days ago in Los Angeles and it will be premiered on “Access Granted” as well as the “Cake” record. Expect to see the preparation for both separate videos soon.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about the music industry right now?
LLOYD BANKS: I feel that at the end of the day that the music is growing. It is just growing as a whole. You hear a lot of new artists coming out. It’s a beautiful thing. I can’t complain. I am confident and content in what I do. I feel that I will be relevant no matter how many different changes hip-hop takes. As far as New York City hip-hop is concerned, I feel that this album is really going to set the tone for the rest of the year and whatever artists comes out after me from NYC, they have a reference of what a good album will be because this is a good album and I am going to prove that on Sept 19th with “The Rotten Apple”.

WHO?MAG: What’s your process for writing one of your rap songs?
LLOYD BANKS: I don’t rush anything and I don’t dwell on a record. That’s the best advice I can give anybody up and coming. Don’t dwell on a record because you never know, it might not be a record. You have to have 2, 3, 4 or 5, hit records to become a successful record. Don’t put all your focus on one particular record. I also pick my own music; therefore I can dictate the pace. If I have a lot of good records coming in, I can pick real fast. If I don’t have as many hot tracks coming in, then it won’t come out as fast. When I am in the studio, I always keep in the back of my head where I am from and how hard it was to get here and how much I don’t want to go back. Those are the things that go through my head when I am making my music. That’s why we take it so seriously because it ain’t too hard to mess up and go back. It takes more than just one album of success.

WHO?MAG: What’s your take on the MP3/bootleg era?
LLOYD BANKS: Wow! I have been a victim of that with my first album. I had over 200,000 downloads of my album before it even came out. And that’s not even including the album’s bootlegging. At the same time, if the music is quality, you’re going to still go get it. You can’t really blame the fans. If you’re not important, then no one is going to download your music. If you have an Ipod or MP3, then you must have some money, so either way, your spending money. You’re going to see a turnout anyway, if it’s in record sales or in show tickets. The bootleg market is the same market that has gotten me where I’m at so I can’t turn around and knock them. But I do give them mixtapes. I have a mixtape out in the streets right now with DJ Whoo Kid. I put it out there in the street myself just to give the streets something to hold on to so when I come out, it won’t be so heavy on the album bootlegging.

WHO?MAG: Who do you listen to for inspiration?
LLOYD BANKS: I listen to Biggie. I listen to Pac. I listen to them because those records were hits to me when they first came out when I was in high school. There are some things that I am catching when I listening to them now that I didn’t catch when I was 14-15 years old. Those are the artists that I listen to. Also my whole crew. If 50’s success isn’t going to inspire me, then nothing else would inspire me. We come from the same neighborhood and the same block. He’s the dude that came straight out the gate and sold 11 million records.

WHO?MAG: What’s next for Lloyd Banks?
LLOYD BANKS: Immediately after the release of “Rotten Apple” on Sept 19th, I will be gone. I actually start my promo tour shortly. Expect to see me in every club, in the grimiest clubs in the city. The same grind that I am used to the past couple of years. It’s going to be de’ja’vu all over again. I have a deal on the table with Playboy and hopefully step on the big screen soon. I rather walk up a ladder than walk in quicksand so I am going to take my steps slow and take the opportunities as they approach. I would rather be the Gary Payton on the championship team than a Kobe Bryant on a losing team.