Fans of self-proclaimed "Punchline King" Lloyd Banks will be pleased to learn that he's mapping out a comeback plan that doesn't include slinging mud at every big enchilada in the industry. With a new album tentatively slated to arrive this fall, Banks says he's as focused on music as ever.
In the meantime, he's putting aside vulgar rhymes to play HIV-awareness advocate alongside G-Unit ally Tony Yayo. Banks sounds off on Hunger For More 2, kicking old habits, stage-crashing fans, and G-Unit's internal rivalries.
Rocks Off: How did G-Unit become a part of the HIV Awareness concert? Did they reach out to you or did you reach out to them?
Lloyd Banks: I'm not sure about the ins and outs of how it all went down. All I know is that I'm definitely for it. I don't know anybody personally that's been touched by AIDS. Regardless, I'm all for the awareness concert. As a man and woman, you gotta be careful about everything you do these days.
RO: What's going on with Banks these days?
LB: I've been doing very well, I released a single, "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley," in February. I'm about to receive my gold plaque.
RO: A gold plaque for that single?
LB: Yeah. I'm also shooting a video for it tomorrow. My new single is "Any Girl." I'm looking to drop my album, Hunger For More 2, in the 4th quarter.
RO: We saw a video of you and 50 Cent when a fan tried to attack him in Brazil. What happened there?
LB: It's no different from prior situations. He just got his ass on the stage for whatever reason. Muthafuckas are fast as hell. For an artist, you're not aware of that because you're focused on your performance.
RO: Why do you think 50 always finds himself in those awkward situations?
LB: It's the energy of the group. The energy that you bring is what you get back. The last song that we performed that night had the energy of the first song we performed. We take it as a blessing. It's important to go back and catch that flame.
RO: Do you still get nervous on stage?
LB: It's not so much that I get nervous, but I do get antsy. It's just the anxiety to perform. For me, the bigger the venue, the better. When you can actually see like the first five six rows, it's more intimate. TV shows is another thing.
RO: How do you get yourself to focus in those situations?
LB: I listen to music regularly. I'm usually writing new music to keep my mind clear. I used to drink and smoke before shows. Maybe, in the past three or four years, I haven't smoked before a show.
RO: Yayo told me he's the biggest drinker in the group. Is he telling the truth?
LB: Hell yeah. Yayo was the biggest drinker before the group [Laughs]. I was always the smoker.
RO: G-Unit hasn't been relevant in years. How important is it for you to regain your footing as a group?
LB: Music doesn't stay anywhere for anybody. There's probably ten other groups you can ask that same question. All you can do is appreciate the success you've had. You can't duplicate the energy you had as a group, whether it's Bad Boy or No Limits.
RO: What's the most surprising thing about 50 that people don't know?
LB: He doesn't drink or smoke. He doesn't do anything at all. To actually not have a want for anything in life is amazing. He's always been that way. Hopefully, I'll be saying the same thing about myself in a few years.
RO: Which G-Unit rival do you despise the least?
LB: You know what? I really analyzed what it is the other day... I don't have a certain way of thinking to any of them. I was telling Yayo this the other day. I got too many issues to think about, especially when you're recording to my music.
I got a whole lotta stuff going on. And I sit back and think about it, when we're 40 years and we go to the Hip-Hop Honors, we got beef? We gon' be 40 years old scrapping on the red carpet? I really don't care.
RO: What does the future hold for Banks?
LB: Hit records make people quiet. If you got a record that's popping and the audience is popping, it quiets everybody. So, I'm just focused on music right now.
RO: If you could pick a starting 5 of all-time greatest MCs, who would you pick?
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LB: Definitely Biggie Smalls, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, um...2Pac. Pac was a great songwriter, and Snoop. Snoop had a laid-back flow. That's how I was when I first started.
RO: How do I become a member of G-Unit? I can spit and I can scrap.
LB [laughs]: Those are the two requirements, right? You just gotta be nice.
The 4th Annual Hip-Hop For HIV Awareness concert takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 31 at Reliant Center. Musical performers are G-Unit, The Party Boyz, Just Britney, Dallas Blocker, Z-Ro, Paul Wall, Bun B, and Plies. See www.hiphopforhiv.com for details.