It may seem opposite to say, but nearly a year after being ousted from Interscope, Lloyd Banks is at the top of his game. The 27-year-old's lead single, "Beamer, Benz or Bentley," is just about every rapper's favorite rap song with multi-regional remixes en route and an anticipated third album revved up. Banks aint for radio? How silly to doubt. Stepping aside from the hazy streets of Amsterdam, the unbent MC called VIBE to talk honest ears, feeling like a million bucks, and Trina, Kim or Nicki.
VIBE: The producer of "Beamer, Benz or Bentley," Prime, is fairly new and unknown. How'd his beat reach your hands?
Lloyd Banks: Well me, I’ve never really had someone pick through me beats. Like [G-Unit] had A&Rs and people that just sought out the music and I might get a rack of cds, maybe a 100 to 200 cds at one time and I literally go through every cd. I'm not gonna lie I filter them out, the ones I recognize up top, I throw them to the left and all the ones I don’t, I throw 'em to the right, but at the end of the day they all get checked out. And that was one of the only beats on the right side that happened to be hot.
This is your first lead single without 50 cent. How closely is he working with you on this third project?
Um, very close. He’s actually heard a bulk of my records. A lot of people don’t realize that he’s still the boss. I look to him for that guidance and when there’s not many people to turn, I can turn left and see Yayo and I can turn right and see 50. Both of their opinions matter when it comes to picking the records and vice versa. This just happens to be the first record that people have heard with me by myself. So that would probably be the only difference from the first two albums and me going into this album, that my first single is not featuring 50 cent.
Do you see yourself stretching left and collaborating with someone like Lady Gaga or Travis Barker?
I can see both of them. As far off as people see Lady Gaga. Her records are poppin' so I don’t think that would be a problem. It would just have to be the right music. I like all different kinds of music to be honest with you, even the new artists like the Travis Porters, I like that they’re having fun with music. That Roscoe, "All The Way Turnt Up"... that’s like one of my favorite records at the moment. I’ve got an honest ear.
You seem you're most confident at the moment, but were you immediately feeling that way after being dropped from Interscope? It can be daunting going from a huge label to an independent.
I was unsure about the actual climate becaue a lot of changes happened, but I was never unsure about my talent and what I can do. The powers to be were confused at the time, of course, but I look at it as if I just dropped into a bank as opposed to a pile of shit. Because at the moment, this independent thing, this comes from the g unit puss, this record was recorded in my basement, paid out of pocket, mixed, video shot the day I left to go on tour. It’s just been nonstop work and we’re approaching 800 spins independent. What I'm doing right now... all the artists you’re expecting to hit this year, haven’t done that, outside of your Drakes. But everybody else who you would at least consider my competition, hasn’t done that. What’s their single (laughs)?
Ha, I’m not going to start any controversy (laughs).
Fine. Then what about choosing from these sets of three: Money, power or respect?
Power brings all the other things.
Biggie, Hov or Nas?
They’re all great artists for different reasons, but Biggie just... he had the ability to just get on the record. He had a shock value and endless flows. Its hard to really put your finger on what a Biggie verse would sound like. So for that reason yeah, I have to go with Biggie.
Trina, Kim, or Nicki?
(Laughs) Sheesh. I would go with Nicki right now.
Yeah, she could split you a good check right now.
Yeah, I like her as an artist. We came up in the same era, we were around the same age so I'm pretty sure one of her influences was probably Lil Kim and nothing is really reminding of the impact Kim had, since Nicki came. To have a concert and have a hundred Nickies in the front row... not too many new artists come and have a following like that. So you definitely have to acknowledge that. —Tracy Garraud