After four years of waiting, it's finally here; Lloyd Banks' third solo album.
Considered by many to be the "second-best" G-Unit member over the years, Banks has worked his way to the top of the food chain ever since 2008 when he started dropping otherworldly popular mixtapes in preparation for The Hunger For More 2. Although 50 Cent is still clearly the more recognizable member of the group, most feel that Banks has eclipsed him in terms of pure rapping ability.
Banks officially introduced himself to the hip-hop world in 2004, releasing his debut album, The Hunger For More. Actually, it wasn't truly his introduction, as he was present on G-Unit's several mixtapes and the group's debut album, Beg For Mercy, prior. However, people wondered how Banks could hold up on a project all by himself, and hold up he did on The Hunger For More. Backed by the hit single "On Fire," the album went platinum, and Banks gained instant notoriety in the rap game at the young age of 22.
Two years later, still fresh off the success of his debut, Banks dropped his second full-length album, Rotten Apple. Unfortunately for Lloyd, it didn't even come close to approaching the fortune of The Hunger For More, as, to this day, it still has not been certified gold in the United States, leading some to believe that Lloyd Banks was already finished.
After laying back in the weeds for a couple of years, Banks launched the 5 & Better Series, a series of five critically acclaimed mixtapes that spanned from September '08 all the way through December '09. Banks had his buzz back, and he then exploded when he dropped "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley," The Hunger For More 2's first single, in February. The song itself, which featured Juelz Santana, went gold, and prompted countless artists (Joell Ortiz, Eminem, Maino, and even Warren G, to name a few) to come out with remix versions of the cut. Banks would then drop his own remix featuring Jadakiss, Ludacris, The-Dream, and Yo Gotti.
Banks would go on to release two more singles for the album ("Any Girl" and "Start It Up") before it dropped. Not only that, but beginning in September of 2010, Banks started a weekly project called "Blue Friday," where he would put out a new song every Friday leading up to the release of The Hunger For More 2. All of this has led to Banks being revitalized, with some, like Kanye West, for example, dubbing him a top five rapper in the game.
So, I won't keep you waiting any longer. Here is the official review for The Hunger For More 2.
1. Take 'Em To War
The album opens up with some great production from Cardiak, as Banks spits: "What kind of fool do you take me for? Eye for an eye, time to even up the score," on the hook. The beat here is truly sick, possessing both a soulful and aggressive nature. Tony Yayo is featured on the track, and despite the fact that he is easily the most ridiculed G-Unit member, he actually does a solid job and adds a nice touch. Great, great way to start things off.
I never thought I'd see the day G-Unit and The L.O.X. collaborated given their history, but that's exactly what happens here, as Styles P teams up with Banks on this Cardiak-produced banger, and when I say banger, I mean banger. The beat here is ridiculous, as is the hook by Banks. Not surprisingly, Styles rips his verse and really steals the show, displaying that as much as Banks has improved as a rapper, Styles is just on another level in this game.
3. Payback (P's and Q's)
This is the only cut on the album where 50 Cent is present, and I was somewhat disappointed to find out that he only raps the hook (I was looking forward to a verse from the G-Unit general). That said, Lloyd Banks holds his own here, and 50, changing up his voice a bit so it sounds even more vicious than usual, kills the hook. The production, by GrandzMuzik, Bliz Money, and Buda Da Future (three producers for one track? Sheesh.) is also great on here, and I just had to include this line from Banks: "I shut my doors on 'em like Jehovah's Witness, I done made it to the top like I said, I told you bitches."
4. Home Sweet Home
Oh man; the production on this cut, done by Nick Speed, is ill. It really is the perfect street track, and it reminds me a little bit of "Southside Story," which was a record off of The Hunger For More. Pusha T of Clipse makes a guest appearance on here (why is Pusha always the Clipse member who gets chosen to rap on other artists' tracks? I've always thought Malice was clearly superior, but whatever.), spitting: "Try to kill you then, them near misses was God's kisses, true Hollywood story, ghetto tie bridges." Banks outshines him, though, rapping: "Paying crowds, hunger screams, pressure crumbles teams, fuck being humble in the jungle where they fumble dreams." Damn.
5. Beamer, Benz, or Bentley
Now that this song is about 15 years old (well, more like nine months, but you get the point), it has lost a lot of its pizazz. I didn't really like it when it first came out, then it grew on me a bit, then I loved it, and now I'm tired of it. Go figure.
6. So Forgetful
I think anyone could have pointed this out as arguably The Hunger For More 2's worst song as soon as the official tracklist dropped about a month or so ago. That's not to say that Ryan Leslie, who is featured on this cut, is a poor artist, because he really isn't, but his beat just sounds amateurish and doesn't really suit Banks at all.
7. Father Time
Back on track. This cut is sick, containing a banger of a beat and a phenomenal hook from Lloyd Banks. Unfortunately, the producer of this track is not known at the moment. When the tracklist first came out, it said that "Father Time" was produced by Jake One; it then changed to a G'Sparkz; now, it doesn't even have a production credit. Nevertheless, I don't care if Britney Spears produced this, because this beat knocks no matter what, and Banks simply murders it: "Energy's my ammunition, like AK shells so think about that when you plan on dissin'," then rapping: "High and low I am no thing you tamper with, made the plan you should cancel it, make examples I trample shit, drop you here I am cancerous, answer this who can handle this? Scandalous, I dismantle these ants and piss on a trucer." Phew. This is the album's best record.
8. Start It Up
This was the album's third single, and while it certainly has a single feel to it, it just isn't a very good track. The beat, once again done by Cardiak, is kind of annoying, and none of the feature artists (Kanye West, Fabolous, and Swizz Beatz) bring anything to the table. Maybe it just has something to do with the fact that I've always thought Kanye has pretty much, well, sucked, but he just sounds awful on this. His voice irritates the crap out of me.
This was supposed to be the third single, but then "Start It Up" leaked, forcing Banks to make that the third single, and it's unfortunate, because this cut is crazy. Say what you want about Akon (who is featured on this track), but he makes sick hooks. I especially love the end of the track when he repeatedly says, "Ain't nothin' changed nigga." Like "Father Time," the producer of "Celebrity" is unknown at this time, but this beat is so damn ill. Lyrically, this is a typical club track, as Banks mainly spits about how much money he has, but who cares? It bangs either way.
10. On The Double
When the tracklist first dropped, it said this cut was produced by Havoc, so I got incredibly excited about this one. Turns out, it isn't, as the beat was made by The Watcherz (who?). Honestly, this sounds like something Swizz Beatz would produce nowadays, and that isn't a good thing. It's a street anthem, but I just didn't like it too much.
11. Any Girl
Unsurprisingly, this was The Hunger For More 2's second single. It's a little bit better than "Start It Up," but not by much. Lloyd is featured on this Dready-produced cut, and he does the hook. The bass in this is crazy, but the production as a whole is very generic.
12. I Don't Deserve You
The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League drops a pretty solid beat for Banks here, who, predictably, raps about a girl whom he feels he doesn't deserve. Jeremih does the hook and drops his own verse at the end of this, but there is a version that leaked in September where Banks does the hook himself. If I were you, I'd go and download that one instead, because Jeremih just sounds terrible on this. The original was pretty good, though.
13. Sooner or Later (Die 1 Day)
I think this is the track most people were looking forward to. Why? Because Raekwon is featured on it, and what a surprise? "Sooner or Later (Die 1 Day)" turned out to be one of The Hunger For More 2's top two songs. The beat, produced by Frank Dukes, suits Rae perfectly, and he murders it. While Lloyd Banks certainly does his thing here, it's The Chef who takes center stage and wrecks this.
14. This Is The Life *
Okay; this cut is ridiculous. Young Seph and Cardiak produced it (Cardiak is one heck of a producer, huh?), the song having a constant, grimy piano pattern, and Banks wrecks the track: "Southside is where I get my style at, right where they file at, my future's fucked up, and crying ladies want they child back, born into combat, I get it spend it more behind that, this holy mind crack, contagious, avoid contact."
15. Stuntin' *
If you've listened to this yet, I'm sure I don't even have to tell you that Swizz Beatz produced it. It seems like Swizzy wouldn't know a good beat if it smacked him right in the face anymore. This cut really is terrible. Turns out "So Forgetful" isn't The Hunger For More 2's worst song, after all.
16. Kill It **
This beat, produced by Lab Ox, almost has a Middle-Eastern-type sound to it, and I'm not digging it. R&B singer Governor is featured here, but the beat is too poor for him to make any kind of impact.
17. Where I'm At **
The much-hyped Eminem cut that turned out to be overhyped. The beat, co-produced by Boi-1da and Em himself, is kind of boring, and Em just sounds out of place on it. So does Banks.
* FYE bonus track
** iTunes bonus track
The awful Swizz Beatz track aside, The Hunger For More 2 has "album of the year" written all over it, and I'm not just saying that because I am, admittedly, a Lloyd Banks Stan. Despite the fact that most of the producers on this project are guys I've never heard of, the beats are crazy, and Banks' lyrics and delivery are on point, as well.
It is very evident that Lloyd Banks has drastically matured as an artist since the Rotten Apple days. His wordplay has advanced considerably, as has his lyrical content in general. I also thought it was impressive that 50 Cent only made one appearance on this album, and that it was only on a hook to top it off, as 50 was very prevalent on Banks' first two LPs. This clearly demonstrates that Banks is his own artist now and can navigate through the ins and outs of the rap game without the aid of his mentor.
The Hunger For More 2 is, without a doubt, Lloyd Banks' best album to date. While there may be an overabundance of guest artists scattered about the record, nearly every one was a good choice, particularly Styles P and Raekwon. Also, even though I may have criticized a few of the songs on the project, "Stuntin'" is really the only one I would recommend that you skip, as even the worst cuts aren't bad at all.
I will certainly be buying this the minute it officially drops.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. Father Time
2. Sooner or Later (Die 1 Day)
4. Home Sweet Home