The Hunger For More
The juggernaut continues to roll with Lloyd Banks
being the newest Shady/Aftermath artist to rule the charts and
airwaves. Best known as 50 Cent's right hand man and one-fifth
of the Guerilla Unit, Banks carved himself a nice identity
alongside 50 in their mixtape
heyday. Through 50's explosion and the success of G-Unit's
album, Banks has become a household
name without a solo album. And so the hype will continue.
Banks gets way too much credit as a lyricist; while he is certainly a capable emcee, he never strays beyond the standard gangsterisms and certainly doesn't do it with the panache that others can. Similar to his G-Unit general, Banks' strengths come in the form of his penchant for good hooks and a nice linear delivery. Of course, an album full of good production doesn't hurt a damn thing. So much like the last three albums from the Shady camp, we get the single "On Fire" - nice and accessible, ready for Hot97, MTV and clubs across the world. You can just hear the marketing machine at Interscope working as you make your way through the album. Of course we the obligatory sensitive thug love song "Karma." Much like 50's "21 Questions" it is straight booty and not the least bit convincing. You've got the gangsta anthem with "Ain't No Click" featuring Tony Yayo fresh out the pen. There is the light-hearted ready-for-radio "I Get High" featuring 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. Who could forget the posse-cut remix of "Warrior pt. 2" with Em, 50 and Nate Dogg? Plus you've got the very dope "Playboy" just begging to be a street single.
You'd be wrong if you think I am implying all of this is bad. Sure, it is really predictable, but it is all done quite well. I have to admire how easily they can play the market with such a simple formula that so few others can seem to grasp. Even more impressive is that I think they have actually done a much better job with this album than they did with 50's. Not just because Banks is the better emcee, but because it is much tighter at just 14 tracks. And while there isn't anything that will come close to "In Da Club" in terms of popularity, there are more potential singles here. Any of those mentioned above could get serious burn; the same goes for "I'm So Fly," which is a perfect example of his ability to write a good hook. For that matter, just listen to "If You So Gangsta" and "South Side Story," he just puts that shit together really well. I can't forget to mention the grimier shit either, "Til The End" is really some ill shit. It is likely Banks' best lyrical effort, and the beat is just lovely. "When The Chips Are Down" is good shit too, with some really good production from Em again.
I'm sure some are gonna hail this a classic, and some are gonna hate it 'til the wheels fall off. Neither side is right. This is a really good album; nothing more and nothing less. Being that it will go at least double platinum I'm sure Banks will be under heavy scrutiny (bka hate), but I really can't see how you can deny this album unless you didn't have your expectations in check. I wasn't expecting a Hip Hop epiphany, or even a gangsta rap one. Just enjoy it for what it is, a dope debut LP.