ATLANTA — When platinum-selling rapper Lloyd Banks was dropped by Interscope Records, he didn't get the support he expected from his boss 50 Cent. But the lack of success left him hungry for more in his career.
“When you win, we all win together. When you lose, you lose by yourself,” Banks recalled 50 Cent's telling him after he was dumped by Interscope in 2009.
The harsh words created a feud and motivated Banks to prove he could find his way without 50 Cent, the leader of G-Unit Records that is also co-founded by Banks and Tony Yayo.
Banks is back with his third album, The Hunger for More 2, which was released Nov. 23.
It's his first album since 2006.
“Those words haunted me,” Banks said of 50 Cent's remark. “But it's the truth. [50 Cent] is supportive, but to a certain extent. He couldn't overextend himself. I was confused at the time. But it's what I needed. I became more hungry.''
The 28-year-old rapper said the past four years taught him the difference between his true friends and the hangers-on.
“Things changed. In the studio it would just be me, my engineer and my weed. Before there was more,” he said.
Banks' first album The Hunger for More, debuted at No. 1 in 2004, sold more than 450,000 copies in the first week and ended up selling over a million records. But the follow-up effort, Rotten Apple, was a flop for the rapper from Queens, failing to reach gold status with just over 350,000 copies sold.
When he was dropped by Interscope, Banks said, he saw his large entourage shrink to only a few people. One of the few who gave him continuos support was Tony Yayo.
“He would always tell me that I'm one of the best doing this,” Banks said. “He called me one of his favorite rappers of all time. That's all I needed.”
Banks said he and 50 Cent are still “cool.” He's still with G-Unit Records and signed with EMI to distribute his music. He said it's a better situation for himself, giving him a new start and more control of his music.
Over the past year, Banks has released two mixtapes and his single, Beamer, Benz, or Bentley, featuring Juelz Santana, peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs. His newest single, Start It Up, features Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, Ryan Leslie and Fabolous.
Banks finally believes he's back on track.
“My goal was to turn all over the negative comments into positive ones,” he said. “I see myself as a flashlight in the dark. I'm not trying to be overlooked anymore.”