It is summertime, and one of the hottest songs in hip-hop comes from a Queens, N.Y.-based MC who emerged from the mixtape circuit with the backing of a controversial multi-platinum artist.See Also:
Following in the footsteps of G-Unit brother and label head 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks made a name for himself in hip-hop circles before widening his audience with a popular single--in his case, "On Fire."
The MC is looking to capitalize on this recognition with his debut solo set, "The Hunger for More," which is due June 29 from G-Unit/Interscope.
With initial shipments expected to be in the 750,000-1 million range, the album likely will be the summer's first big release.
But will it catapult Banks to 50 Cent's level of success?
"There is a huge buzz for anything G-Unit-and Banks fits closest into the 50 Cent mold," Vibe music editor Erik Parker says. "He made his name on mix tapes, stamping each track with sizzling verses -- as did 50 Cent. And like 50 did with 'Wanksta,' Banks utilizes a polished club record like 'On Fire' to make a splash."
Ron Gillyard, head of black music at Interscope Geffen A&M, acknowledges the similarities between 50 Cent and Banks (as well as fellow G-Unit member Young Buck). However, he is quick to point out that each artist is unique
"50 is 50," Gillyard says. "His [audience] anticipation came from a whole lot of other things-you had his history, his upbringing, his alleged beef [with Ja Rule]. All these other things played into that, and then you had monster records. With Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, 50 will be to them what Eminem and [Dr.] Dre were to him. It's about validation."
"On Fire," the album's lead single, provides further validation. Produced by Eminem and Kwame, the title is No. 6 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and to No. 15 on the Hot 100.
Banks recorded most of his album in a studio-equipped tour bus while he was on the road with 50 Cent.
Describing the process for "On Fire," Banks says: "Kwame did the beat, and after I laid the record down I sent it to Em. He just did one of those things where he laid his magic on the record, and it had that feeling."
Banks says he has as much control over the business aspect of his career as he has creative control over his music.
"50 speaks to me as if he's speaking to a brother," Banks says. "That's the difference between a business relationship and a business business relationship. When you're dealing with these dudes and you're signing record deals, a lot of times they only tell you what they want you to know at that time--as opposed to 50 telling me what he feels I need to know.
"That's why I am able to be hands-on with my project," he adds. "I know who to call when something isn't going right, and whatever idea I have I can bring to the table. And for the most part, the only person I have to ask about anything is 50."
The special collectors CD/DVD edition of Banks' debut features a bonus track, exclusive "My Buddy" animated video, "Smile" video and day-in-the-life clips of Banks and Young Buck. The label will print the cover and booklet on U.S. currency paper stock and limit production to 100,000 copies.
But for Banks, the music inside is the key.
"The [songs] that I picked are the songs that I thought were my best material," he says. "A lot of people hold things back-they make 'to be continued' videos-and they plan too far in advance. I don't have a plan B, and I'm not guaranteed tomorrow, so when I made this album I laid everything on the line."
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008
Trina Introduces Pink Diamond Clothing, Launches Website
Xzibit's Newborn Son Passes Away Suddenly
The Story Behind Kanye's "Flashing Lights"
Tony Yayo Doles Out Props To Lil' Wayne
Combs Turns Screenwriter
Festival Postponed Over 'Snoop Dogg Gang Violence'
Teenager Who Murdered Juvenile's Daughter Indicted