We recently had the opportunity to have a one on one sit down with Lloyd Banks at The G-Unit Offices as he gears up for the release of his Highly Anticipated Mixtape, “Cold Corners Pt. 2.” Currently promoting his third studio album, “Hunger For More 2,” we got all up in his head as we discussed everything from Fashion, Hip Hop Politics, his dream Collabos, and even his love life!!
Take a peek at our convo as we dug a little deeper into the mind of 1/3 of G-Unit, Banks, and check out his “Any Girl” video ft. Lloyd!!
1. What makes you Stuff Fly People Like?
Im Stuff Fly People like because i’m a chameleon. I always blend with the times.
2. What does the term “FLY” mean to you?
I’ve seen people buy brand new shit and don’t know how to put it together, so I think it’s something i’m born with. For one, it depends on who you’re asking because coming up, you could have influences. Like when i made the decision to rap, i put all the things together i thought would make me dope, whether it was the clothing, the jewelry, money, cars, or whatever. But your attitude has a lot to do with it, and confidence, your character, period. Once you put the clothes on, it’s kind of what makes it sometimes. So i think it was a mixture. I never really did too much. It’s funny because you could categorize all of the boroughs. It’s a little different now, because back in the days, Queens looked like Queens. Brooklyn looked like Brooklyn. I’m never one to get out of pocket. So if swag is what you would call it, it’s more like a “cool calm swag.” I’m not an attention seeker, but to each his own.
3. So, what was up with 50’s track, “I’m All Turnt Up,” a track dissing the members of G-Unit at the end?
You talking about the April Fools joint? It’s funny because I did an April Fool’s joke and told them my mixtape was coming out midnight and then i realized it was April Fools, and earlier that day i caught them real good. So i guess 50 came out right behind that with his own April Fools joke and that’s what it was. It aint nothing there.
4. What were your initial goals when you decided to pursue rap as a career?
To get my mother a house.
5. So being that you got your mom her house, what are some of your current goals?
Well you’re kind of like the last person to understand what you mean to people, to the business, or atleast i was because i was always more humble than the average person, so i always pushed myself. So my aspirations now are different. I aspire to be respected in my field, and what it is i do. It’s not so much about the money, because i’m able to manage it now. Like, you dont even buy alot of the things, or waste money on things anymore, that you would have when you 1st came into the business. And at this point, im just more into the music than i’ve ever been. I remember, back in the day when i first came out, there were so many other things to distract you and there was no time to fully appreciate the music. It was like, “do the show, do the record, chase the girls, get the money.” It just felt like it was never going to stop. Like it was going to be that way and never change. I never thought there was going to be a downtime, or anything like that, so you kind’ve live a little reckless.
6. You dropped out of school when you were 15. Did your mother place pressure on you to complete school at a later date, or to atleast obtain your G.E.D?
I got kicked out of school and that school was my zone school so i couldnt really go to no other school, unless it was like Sattelite or one of those programs for kids who were messing up. So yea, i got my G.E.D when i was 16. You know, the school part was cool. I met alot of people that i still keep in touch with. Alot of my friends i grew up with, i met them in High School. Thats where i met alot of people from Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, they would come to school in Queens. I wasn’t too good in school, but i took what i needed, reading and math especially, because i knew i would need to know how to count my money and read my contracts. I didnt really want to know how to cut a frog open, or no shit like that.
7. So in comparing your latest release, “HFM2” to your first release, “HFM,” how have you seen yourself grow as an artist, and as a man?
I’ve grown alot. Every day im growing, to be honest with you. Music wise, i’ve broadened as an artist because i’ve seen more, and i have more knowledge, so i can speak on different things. I no longer feel a need to fill a void because i feel i’ve done that already. As far as my core base goes, i feel like i created myself so now i can make different kinds of records and more collaborations, and take more risks.
8. So do you feel like commercial success is based on who you work with?
Yeah, to a certain extent. Like i’ve said, its a relationship driven business, and that’s just how it goes. Right now theres someone out there super talented that the industry just hasn’t hooked up yet. In my case, it was a little different because i already had the relationships. It’s that the relationships i had were dominant at that time. I think we were so close knit since we came up together as friends, so it was kind’ve hard for people to see where they fit in. In my opinion, thats what made a resistance. Our peers didn’t see where they fit in, because we came in together. Like Dipset were all friends. So they’re the only ones that could break that up. Same thing with the Unit. Just through time and maturity, things change. You just see things from a bigger picture. I’m not trying to be 40 years old with a “rap beef.” I can’t see myself on the Red Carpet with my kids and see a dude i been beefing with for 15 years, making records about eachother, and i’ve never even saw this man in person, gave him dap, or anything. Back in the day, rap beefs were more personal. “Nigga, you was in my basement, i let you use my turntable!” There was a story behind it, you know? Now a dude is just beefin with you because he wakes up and feel he’s better than you.
9. Do you think these current beefs are more about selling records?
At the end of the day, the public is so smart. They’re aware of so many different things now, like SoundScan. They can critique the artist more than they could back in the day so I never understood that, if you know that it’s reaching. That’s why they call it a reach. So it’s obvious that the person reaching is just trying to get some of the attention that the other guy has. And once you become successful, you don’t feel the need to do that anymore. The need to respond to anything, or to even pick something. It’s the rapper syndrome. All rappers feel like they’re the best rapper.
10. But G-Unit is known to be the “King’s of Picking Fights.”
Name one time we picked a fight.
11. 50 Cent came in as a bully, with his 1st record, “How to Rob.”
Biggie Smalls had “Dreams of F***ing an R&B B*tch.” That could have been taken disrespectful. He was saying, “Mariah Carrey’s kinda scary…” He was talking about grown ass women so if i made that record now, and was talking about Beyonce, Ciara, or Rihanna, it would have the same shock. You gotta understand, Biggie was already coming up there when he dropped this record. 50’s record was more of “Hey, you’re gonna recognize me!” That was it. He was speaking in metaphor. It was a concept record. He wasn’t saying it was a personal beef. It was from the perspective of someone who was in the street, hungry. He’s now worked with most of the people that were named on that record. So it wasn’t the same thing. The first words on the record was, “yo, we just f***ing around…” That’s the difference. But you can’t pinpoint a time where me, Tony Yayo, or 50, started an issue. But i could tell you about 5 other instances where other people started with us, but i won’t give them no light!
12. Okay, so who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Mobb Deep, as a group, they were my favorite group. I was following them since “Juvenile Hell.” Before that, it was like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, so many different names. MC Lyte was one of my favorite MC’s of all times. So i was hip to alot of different things. At that time, it was surreal to me. I didn’t ever think i was going to see or meet any of those people. Then it wasn’t until 50 got signed that i started to see it. And RIP Freaky Ty (of The Lost Boyz), me and him went to school together since like 3rd Grade. I was around in the earliest stages before they actually popped. So those were my main influences. To see someone be around all the time, and then to not be around anymore, or better yet, not be available. That was up close and personal to me, to see him make it. And then 50 got the deal, and he lived right around the corner from me. So when he signed with Jam Master Jay, and Columbia Records, it was like, “Wow, this is happening to people who live right here.” So that was like the strongest influence. But other than that, it was Snoop, Biggie, Nas, and Mobb Deep.
13. So how do you feel about the current state of Hip Hop, or what people call “The Ringtone Rap?”
I feel like there was always different kinds of music. I dont think the consumer should have a complaint. I never understood that. How do you complain about something that you breathe life into? The same people who complain, at one point they were giving CPR to that shit. Hip Hop changes faster than any other culture, any music, any genre, period. Thats what Hip Hop is. It’s about Reinvention. It’s about being new. So i feel like today it has to have those things that we didn’t have then. When i was young you had, “At the playground, that’s where i saw her…” Man, that was my shit back in the day. I listened to that everyday after school. Everyday, but that’s because that’s all i had. We didnt have Lil Bow Wow, or Lil Romeo, or Souljia Boy, or Lil Mama, we didnt have none of those artists. So all you had was Another Bad Creation, and looking back, they were actually ahead of the game, but it took a little longer. Even with the female rappers, when you look at Nicki Minaj, i’ve seen her come all the way up. So it just shows you that she’s going to open the doors for other girls that want to rap. Whether they want to be like, or rap like her, is another thing but she’s definitely going to be responsible for a whole era of females rappers.
14. So out of all the “new” srtists, are there any that you would like to collaborate with?
Aww man, theres so many. I like Kendrick Lamar. I’ve worked with Nipsey Hussle, i always put his name out there. I think he’s dope. J. Cole, Meek Millz. I like Mac Miller. I like Wiz Khalifa, B.O.B. These are all artists i would wrok with. It’s just about the right situation. It’s crazy because after you’ve been in the game for a certain time, it takes time for an artist to know exactly who they are as an artist. Some people get it immediately, and some people come into themselves down the line. As an artists whose been in the game 10 years now, I can HEAR other artists, even when they don’t hear themselves. Sometimes you get out of pocket so much, to where the fans will say, “yo, go back to the old shit.” So me hearing records, i could just hear people on it and that’s how i pick my features. I think that comes with comfortability. Every new artist thats made an impact, that has had a number one record in the country, there was a period where they could only hear themselves. When “On Fire” came out, I heard that shit every day, all day, and everyone gets their time. Drake had his time, Nicki Minaj had her time. Everyone is gonna have that time, where it’s just all about you. So i think, later on in your career is when you start to humble up more, and you start appreciating everything else thats out there. You feel like there’s so much time for that. That’s why going into my 3rd album, i did more features because prior to that, i was sitting at home and everyone was saying, “Banks is done.” So i took my last project, and literally went about it like it was my last. Like, i dont have time to call Raekwon when im 40 years olf to do a record. Let’s do this shit now! Let’s get Styles P on the line, Pusha T, Fabolous, and all the artists that I respect, and lets work together.
15. So you name alot of Hip Hop head to work with, but what about outside our genre. Could you see yourself working with someone like Lady Gaga?
Yea, of course. I would do a Lady Gaga record. I would work with anyone who i thought was dope. Atleast try the record, and let me decide if i like it or not.
16. What are some other forms of entertainment your interested in?
I’m a big movie buff. I love movies. They give me visions, like when i’m blank, i can always just throw a movie on, but i love and respect, the the art so much, that i couldn’t think about acting until i perfected that craft. Same way if you had actors that wanted to rap, if you’re getting out that pocket, it’s going to take a little more time for people to respect you. But every now anf then, you have someone who is good enough to cross over. Like Jamie Foxx.
17. So, we asked some of our readers what they wanted us to ask you, and alot of the ladies wanted to know, “What’s up with your love life?”
It’s the same. I dont have a girl, a relationship, or anything like that. I’m just, what they say, “testing the waters” right now. My music takes up so much time that my girl would have to be so understanding.
18. You don’t think that’s cliche? Everyone uses that “I’m too busy line.”
Well, it’s the truth for me. Like, the gig is up, you feel me? If i was fronting, i would have had a girl a long time ago. I’m 28 now. It’s to the point where it’s not even cool no more to act like i’m on some mack shit. At the end of the day, i got a big ass bed, and it’s just me in that joint.
19. On to fashion, how do you feel about the current fashion sense of Hip Hop.
It’s going in a different direction, but what do we expect? When we were in 1991, or ’92, and everyone was screaming, “Party like it’s 1999,” What did you expect in 2010? I expected it to be crazy!
20. You expected guys to be wearing jeggings?
*laughs* Jeggings? Well shit, if you look at some of the rappers from back in the day, they used to wear tight ass pants too, but the jegging thing is like the next level. I’m more conscious of how i speak on it now, because i dont want to offend anybody. I don’t know. Some things are Hip Hop and some things ain’t, but i cant weed anything out, because our Hip Hop leaks into other genres of music too. Michael Jackson did a record with Biggie Smalls. Others take from us all the time. I’ve seen John Cena (Wrestler) come out in spinning chains so i can’t be mad if Hip Hop takes from other places. I just won’t do it. I stay in my own lane. My clothing changes with my personality because i’m two different people. I’m more mature now. I just different, but i’m also comfortable with my boots and my hoodie. Im a Queens n*gga. I don’t really need to much. So i can do both, but i can’t do weird. I can’t do something that i don’t see in my neighborhood. I’m not that edgy. I’m not doing Mohawks, or no shit like that. Weird is weird. If you can’t get your phone out ur pocket, then it’s a problem. I have a pair of jeans in my closet now that are huge, and it’s like, that fast things change! In ’04 and 05′, we were wearing big ass clothes. My grandmother always used to tease me but we thought it was dope, and now i look back on it and we did look pretty stupid. But i rather wear big clothes, than super tight clothes.
21. What are your Top Must Haves at all times?
I must have my shades. I keep them with me for pictures. My eyes are real bad and the flashing lights make my eyes water, so i definitely keep my shades. I gotta have my Chukkas, my Timb Chukkas. Since 11, 12 years old, on the first day of school when everyone else would have a fresh pair of Jordans, i had my Chukkas. That was just me. Brown, black, burgundy, all colors. Field Boots. Outside of that, maybe my hat. I dont always have to have a hat. when i started making different kinds of records like, “Smile,” then you start hearing things like, “take your hat off!” I’ll be at 106 & Park and they’ll ask me to take my hat off and the girls would go crazy and i’d be like “What the f*ck??”. So certain things i started to pay attention to as my fan base started to change. Im ver conscious of that. Like if i’m doing a show and i know there would be more females there, i’d dress a little different. If i’m doing a show where its gonna be a bunch of n*ggas in there, i’m gonna dress like i just left the block.
22. Who are some of your favorite designers?
I’m not really into researching people and all that, but of course Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, the norm, but i’m not the person that’s going to be at Fashion Week. I love to dress but i dont care about all that. It’s like having a Picasso and having a regular painting. I don’t care who did it. It’s crazy but in that kind of business, they respect it more when you don’t know. My name could be tagged to something and other people might not mess with it because of it. That exclusivity is always what’s been in Hip Hop. I think that’s why people like Jay Z always stayed above, because he had the knowledge of it. You’re going to fly on this particular jet before anyone else does, and then you can speak on it. You can find out about Birkin Bags and rap on it first. I think knowing about it and wearing it is two different things. So i don’t speak about it, i wear it.
23. Lastly, is there anything you would like to leave with our readers?
Well for one, my album is in stores now, for anyone who doesn’t know, “HFM 2.” I’m independent now. Alot of people don’t know that either. I’m just mixing and moving around right now. I got 2 records in the Top 5 in New York City and i’m gearing up for a Summer tour. Europe, Canada. I’ll be making my rounds so i’m sure i’ll be making my rounds to a hood near you. I also have a Mixtape coming out the day of my birthday, April 30th, called “Cold Corners Pt. 2” so make sure you check that out. Also, my 4th single, “So Forgetful” ft. Ryan Leslie will be out soon. The video was shot already. I also shot a record called “Home Sweet Home” off the album, and i’m about to shoot “Fly In The Wind” ft. Jim Jones in a week. And probably a few things off the mixtape because i got a couple of features on there. The game changed so much. I remember when DJ’s would be on your tape, and putting your tape out, but now the scope is on me so much to where if i put a tape out, it might go past just being a Mixtape record. So subconsciously i just keep that in mind. Regardless of what people may say, it’s been unnecessary hate on my part, so even when i’m not in the race, i’m going to always live vicariously through my peers. I get a kick out of someone coming from the streets and making it. I’m a different kind of dude. So that’s all I want to do. I want to be on a shirt. When i’m dead and gone, i want to be on a T-Shirt. And not just an RIP from my homies, but i wanna be on a shirt like how Tupac was, the way Biggie Smalls and Easy E are. So yeah, it’s a continuous grind, and don’t look forward to me stopping!
Check Lloyd Banks out tomorrow nite performing and partying @ Sanders Studios in Brooklyn!!