Is Lloyd Banks a legitimate solo rap star, one of the best microphone controllers in the game,...
DJBooth Album Review
Unfortunately for Banks, it’s a question that’s unanswerable – unless the unthinkable happens and he severs ties with 50. Fail, and the haters will say, “see, told you he was nothing.” Win, and the haters will say, “it’s not him, it’s 50.” And so Banks finds himself in hip-hop’s purgatory, rarely on anyone’s worst rapper list, but also rarely on anyone’s best rapper list (except, apparently, for Kanye’s). But maybe his new album, The Hunger For More 2, will finally be the firm answer we’re been waiting for. Maybe it will be either so incredible, or so terrible, that we’ll finally be able to place Banks in his deserved position. Maybe all those years of debate are over. Maybe, maybe, maybe….
There’s no doubt that Beamer, Benz or Bentley was the hit of the summer, along with B.M.F., but there is also doubt about who deserves the credit for BBorB’s rampage. Could anyone have rocked over that ridiculously catchy beat and have it smash? (Will I ever stop asking rhetorical questions? Nope.) Well, maybe not “anyone”, but the plethora of subsequent freestyles suggest that the beat was capable of transforming decent rappers into dope ones. We might have better luck with Start Up, a joint that, if you can get over the sound of a grown man making “vroom vroom” noises (cough Swizz Beatz cough) is a guaranteed head-nodder that finds Banks putting in work next to certified elites Kanye and Fabolous. After repeat listens, I’ve got Lloyd as the third best rapper on the track, but trailing Yeezy and Loso isn’t anything to be ashamed of. The comparisons are far more direct on the Styles P assisted Unexplainable, Pusha T affiliated Home Sweet Home and the darkly pacing Sooner or Later featuring Raekwon, all of which for my money find Mr. Banks placing a close second to his track mate. Still, so what? I’m not deducting points because an album is filled with dope guest verses.
Banks is rarely alone on THFM2, but when he is, it’s easier to hear the rhyme work that’s earned him acclaim from some quarters. That trademark raspy flow is on full display on Father Time, an epically dark joint that strips away the accessories and concentrates instead entirely on his often more-intricate-than-they-might-appear-at-first lines: “Murdered half of yall on my mixtapes / Come rap up in my wrath / Now I'm laughin look at ya rib cage.” As hard as the man can obviously come, he’s also proven to have a certain way with the ladies. In fact, it appears that he can tell a woman she’s a dime a dozen and they’ll still keep calling. At least that’s what So Forgetful would have us believe. By contrast Lloyd (the singer) makes Any Girl almost sound romantic, turning the pounding beat into something almost smooth. The combination is more than enough to find Banks back on the charts, and with the Akon collab Celebrity waiting in the wings, it likely won’t be the album’s last hit.
I know it seems like I’m waffling more than Roscoe’s but the truth is that The Hunger for More 2 is a hip-hop Rorschach test; you’re going to hear what you want to hear. If you’re a diehard G-Unit loyalist Banks has given you no shortage of ammunition to fire at the haters, and if you’re a hater, you’ll be able to fire right back. As for me, and everyone else who doesn’t feel compelled to choose sides, you’ll listen to the album for a few weeks, have a good time, and then more than likely watch it fade into the background. Lloyd Banks, solo star or beneficiary of fate? We may never know for sure. You’ll just have to listen and decide for yourself.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Dec 01, 2010
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