In an era of so-called swag rap, picturesque, narrative-styled rhymes often play the back to narcissistic non-wit. But pair a punchline-hurling rapper like Lloyd Banks with storytelling lyricist Raekwon and the plot (literally) thickens.
It's exactly what happened when the Wu-Tang general sent Banks the unfinished, Scram Jones-produced "Last Train to Scotland," a gritty track from his upcoming LP, Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang (out March 8).
"Soon as I heard [Raekwon's] verse it was on some storytelling shit, so I already knew what I had to do with it," says the G-Unit MC. "Rae is one of the best at that, so his verse opened up my mind. It wasn't like I had a blank beat to go off of."
Banks, who's strayed from the storytelling-style rhymes more common early in his career, says the verse helped steer him back into that rhyming direction.
"It’s crazy because I’d already planned on going back into the storytelling thing on my next project... that's a cool start for me," Banks reveals. "It’s actually easier for me to paint pictures as far as stories because it’s less punchlines, it’s more out the mind. It’s different than having to break your brain to come up with a witty line."
While Lloyd Banks' latest record with The Chef helped reignite his narrative baritone, he has their first collaboration—"Sooner Or Later (Die 1 Day)" from his own well-received album Hunger For More 2—to thank for his invite onto "Last Train to Scotland."
"I had the beat [for 'Sooner Or Later'] for a minute, just rocking, vibing with it," he says. "I wrote about three verses to it and the sample, the beat—everything just reminded me of the Wu-Tang sound... So I was like, it’s gotta be somebody from the Wu. And I really respect what Rae’s been doing recently. He killed it."
Look for Banks' usual flurry of lyrical punches sprinkled with 'hood tales on his forthcoming, as-yet-untitled mixtape, which Banks expects to drop in March. His fourth solo album is slated for release later this year. —John Kennedy