50 Cent’s 2003 debut album, Get rich or die Tryin’instantly made him one of the biggest musicians on the planet, but instead of immediately following it with another solo endeavor, 50 took advantage of his newfound fame to make his next release. According to him is the team effort: Beg for Mercy, the first studio album by G-Unit, the rap group he formed in his native South Jamaica, Queens, with his friends Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks. Where 50 is the charismatic leader with a connoisseur-like ability to play pop even on mixtape tracks — and Yayo’s silliness has been chopped, imperfectly, into 16 bars – Banks is an excellent perforated rapper, raising his reputation to two – four-bar bursts of wit and puns.
In the nearly 30 years since the Bank followed up Beg For Mercy with his solo debut, 2004 The Hunger For More, the rapper has tried to refine and deepen this style through a passionate songwriting regime. “You think I’m here for talent?” he asked about a song from The Course of the Inevitable 2, his fifth solo album, comes out today. “It’s repetition.” GQ spoke to Banks over the phone about his childhood in Queens, his adjustment to the first wave of G-Unit fame, and moving away from music to focus on family.
You mentioned engaging in various creative mediums in your youth: music, poetry, visual arts. What activated your brain?
There are many elements in hip-hop. My uncle used to take us out to Brooklyn, and I’ve seen them break cardboard, break a bunch of boxes, and be right in the square. And then graffiti got me into tagging, maybe in schools where I wasn’t allowed to do it, or outside, or just in my notebooks. I was drawn to graffiti art, which led to me drawing characters and things of that nature. Even Boondocks I’ve been in the newspaper, I’ll take mental snapshots and then create my own characters. And then poetry began to take shape when I fell in love with hip-hop. I fell in love with a lot of lyricists, Rakims and Big Daddy Kanes and Nas’s. I want to be a writer. When I was in school, when I had to work, or if I finished my work fast enough, I would start writing. And then I walked around, reading the dictionary. So I can’t really point one thing out, I just feel like I’m an art heavyweight in general.
What name are you tagging?
Like to hike?
No – I’ve never told anyone this except the real person I take my name from, but it’s Layzie Bone. I’m a huge fan of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Actually, the night 2Pac died was the first big concert I went to, at the Nassau Arena. These are Nas performing, The Firm, The Fugees, and Bone Thugs. It was my first time watching them perform. A couple of years back, in Texas, I actually toured with Bone Thugs, and I had a chance to tell them I took the name from there.
https://www.gq.com/story/lloyd-banks-course-of-the-inevitable-2-interview Lloyd Banks, Rap’s Master Technician