Lloyd Banks has been content to lurk in the shadow of 50 Cent
for the past 18 months. Taking his turn at bat, Banks did something
unexpected — he made Hungry For More, an album with
loads of personality .
Banks’ voice rumbles far beyond raspy and deep; it sounds
like the man has a subwoofer next to his larynx. His flow spawns
long verses packed with hissing threats and flashes of real
storytelling. But instead of the five-minute yarns Banks has spun
on countless mix tapes, listeners have to settle for sixteen bars
before settling into a chorus.
And what grinding choruses they are. Banks’ hefty voice
mumbles over the usual themes of masculinity and rage for a few
seconds before plunging back into his stream-of-consciousness
narration. He just doesn’t sound comfortable singing the
hook. If someone else handles the chorus, such as the sample vocal
on “When the Chips are Down,” listeners get an cleaner
sense of Banks’ lyrical ability. The usual complaint about
hardcore rap is that it portrays a lifestyle no one actually leads,
but Banks evades criticism by acting as a witness to the occasional
horrors of urban life, not playing cartoonish super-thug.
But there are no real smash cuts on the album. The first single,
“On Fire,” is unsatisfying, and the all-star
“Warrior pt.2” with Eminem, 50 Cent and Nate Dogg
doesn’t have chorus hypnotic enough to stick. That aside,
most of the songs are polished, especially the snapping
“Playboy” and “Til the End.”
As the recording behemoth behind Banks prepares to reload with
an upcoming release from Young Buck and another 50 Cent album, rap
fans would be wise to pray for Banks’ emancipation from the
G-Unit factory. The man needs space to roam, choruses and club
bangers be damned.