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The Rundown with Aryez

Have fans been starving for Banks' "Hunger..." part 2

Lloyd Banks

The Hunger For More 2

When you think of mixtape artists there tends to be a stereotype that most of them typically aren’t capable of making quality LPs because they are raw talent; deriving songs mainly from freestyles and “battle” rap that is frowned upon by the mainstream. Every once in a while though there comes an artist whose musical strengths lie in those facets and turns those same qualities into success, and Lloyd Banks fits this exception. With a 2004 Mixtape Artist of the Year award, a BET Best Collaboration award in 2006, and having a debut album (The Hunger For More, LP) certified as double platinum by the RIAA, the mixtape game has definitely proven to be solid ground for him to tread in order to prepare for his commercial run. In this edition of The Rundown, can he prove that he is still the starving artist he was since his 2003 debut verse on the now 50 Cent’s classic album “Get Rich or Die Trying” on “The Hunger for More 2”?

 “The Hunger…2” kicks off with that gritty but fast-paced G-Unit sound on the Cardiak (Joe Budden, Lola Monroe) produced “Take ‘Em to War” featuring Tony Yayo. This song could arguably be the perfect soundtrack for any “Dead Presidents” and “Set If Off” heist scene. For the DMX fans, if you enjoyed “Number 11” on his 2001 “The Great Depression” album you can respect “Unexplainable”, again produced by Cardiak and features Styles P. “Sooner or Later” is also a notable track that features Raekwon that has both emcees reflecting on the hardships of the streets and chasing the almighty dollar with a “make it or take it” attitude proclaiming, Why run? It’s gon’ come, til the day it does/ I’ma hold my s*** down, take it in blood, outsiders get no love. As far as production on this particular song, the listener could say it’s a mash up of Eminem’s 2004 “Like Toy Soldiers” from the Encore album and Cam’ron’s 2000 “Loosin’ Weight” on “S.D.E”.

 Where street-bangers have routinely worked for Banks- especially matching his metaphorical bar-for-bar delivery, he has now begun to consistently garner the audience of the club scene. For example, “Beamer, Benz or Bentley” in a year alone has become a “hood” classic (not to mention the video, full of vixens can’t hurt promotion for the guys). The song pits Banks and Juelz Santana styles against one another as they flow in a continuous, water-pouring unison with the beat. “Start It Up” which features Kanye West, Swizz Beats, Fabolous and Ryan Leslie is showing similar reaction from listeners for the same popularity as they spit catchy lines such as They say good things come to those who wait/ so I”ma be about a hour late, and Baddest b**** in the state/ half Spanish, half Training Day, complexion Henny straight.  Another club banger to keep an ear out for is the overly excited “On the Double” produced by the Watchers, (When first listening to this track, you’d swear it’s a Swizz Beats track, with its heavy drum snares and looped samples, but apparently it isn’t). And, of course these days you can’t complete a club banger without the R&B touch which is why he recruits singer Lloyd for the bass heavy “Any Girl”. Other features throughout the album include Pusha T, Akon and Jerimih.

 Banks energy and tone undeniably match that of the original “Hunger…” He maintains his ability with his delivery to any production which helps diversify his sound as an artist. Another plus is that he is making a relentless effort to insure listeners that he has come out from 50’s shadow, establishing himself as more that just a hype-man or a tag-along in G-Unit.

 Something to take notice to is that he seems to stray somewhat from his use of metaphors and similes that we’re typically use to hearing. He relies more on being direct to get his point across and this would probably be considered a disadvantage to the project since he has mainly been known and well-respected for being a “punchline king” among artists such as Fabolous and Ghostface. Another setback is that there are too many features on the album. Banks is seasoned enough to hold his own, especially having a hip hop heavyweight (50 Cent) as a mentor. The times he rides solo on a song turn out well for him i.e. “Father Time” and “On the Double”, and his audience may want more of just Lloyd Banks.

 Overall, “The Hunger for More 2” can be considered a continuation to his 2004 original and an entrée that may not satisfy every taste bud, but it is enough to fill the listeners appetite for a solid, east-coast rap crave.    

 -Aryez  

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