Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
12/16/2003 6:00:37 AM
Tags and topics realted to this article include G-Unit, 50 Cent, Ja Rule and Lloyd Banks.
If your ship sets sail you're not going anywhere without your crew — this is a rule in rap music. We've seen it with Busta Rhymes and his Flipmode Squad, Eminem with D12, Nelly and the St. Lunatics, Nas and his Braveheart buddies, and now 50 Cent is bringing his G-Unit brethren Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck into the spotlight. But a few things separate this crew from the other rapper cliques.
First off, being led by 2003's top-selling hip hop artist doesn't hurt, nor does production from Dr. Dre. But those credentials don't guarantee hit records and platinum albums in this fickle industry (just ask Roc-A-Fella's less-than-successful State Property or Ludacris' floundering Disturbing The Peace clique).
Africana caught up with G-Unit charter member (and Craig David look-alike) Lloyd Banks while he was promoting the group's debut album, Beg for Mercy. We discussed the album, the origins of the group, the latest in the beef with Ja Rule and Murder Inc., and how incarcerated group member Tony Yayo is fairing in an upstate New York penitentiary.
How did you and 50 initially connect?
I grew up in south side Queens; me and Yayo lived on the same street and 50 lived around the corner. I'm the youngest, 50 is older than me and I've been rapping for a long time. The stuff I was rapping about…I wasn't going through the things that 50 was going through at the time, I was young, in junior high school. I wasn't really into the street, and 50 was older, he was already in the street. Me and Yayo were going through things that were totally different because we were closer in age. So as we got older our experiences changed.
Then 50 got shot and when he got shot a lot of people turned their back on him. A lot of your friends stay away because they don't know if whoever shot you the first time is going to come back and try it again. So a lot of true colors come through. And I had gotten shot too so I was in the same frame of mind as him, so I rode with him. I was like, "Man, if I can get into the rap game…" The rap game is like the crack game, you're taking the street approach to the game, not everything is done by the book. So I thought if I'm going to get into a business where it's shady and things can happen, I'm gonna get into it with somebody who would take it with me, and vice versa. So you know, this is genuine, this is not something that was put together, we grew up together. If we were on the block hustling, we would ALL be on the block hustling. If we were stealing cars, we'd be stealing cars together. That's what separates G-Unit from a lot of the groups out there. For example, look at Nas' situation. He had Cormega and Nature. What happened to those dudes? I think they admired Nas more than they respected him. They admired Nas' position. They wanted to work with him. As soon as they got their little buzz, and you heard people calling Nature and Cormega, they felt like it was time for them to do their own thing, not for the group but for themselves.
So what's the current situation with Tony Yayo?
I actually went to see him not that long ago and he's doing good. I haven't been able to see him a lot lately because it's an eight-hour drive upstate to go see him and that's like your whole day gone. That's a long ride. I mean, I love the brother but damn! It seems like he's been gone a long time but he'll be home real soon. He's cool though, he knows what he's coming home to.
How'd you find out that Beg For Mercy was being bootlegged?
I had got word that the Jay-Z Black Album and the G-Unit Beg for Mercy album were on the Internet. It had leaked the night before, so I kind of knew. Once the album goes to the pressing plant, it gets leaked out, that's just the way it goes. We knew it was going to get leaked. The original [release] date was
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