After a lacklustre serving of The Rotten Apple, Lloyd Banks has bounced back with a worthy sequel to his début album The Hunger for More (H.F.M). H.F.M.2 is just as gritty as the original, packed with Banks' trademark array of punchlines and one-liners delivered over layers of beats produced by lesser known names such as Cardiak and Prime. Unfortunately for Banks, H.F.M.2 like the first, also appears to have been slept on. It was always facing an uphill challenge to be noticed when its release week coincided with Mrs. 'much over-hyped' Minaj's debut let down Pink Friday and Kanye West’s critically acclaimed masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Sadly this was reflected in H.F.M 2's chart performance.
Nevertheless this album deserves your attention. Its opening tracks are reminiscent of G-unit in their hay day. 'Take em to War' manages to be defiant,arrogant, nonchalant and even soothing at the same time. It is made complete by a customary feature provided by G-unit's, and perhaps the worlds, worst lyricist Tony Yayo, a rapper who has once delivered the line: “..which rapper want it?/which trapper want it?/my house is haunted”. Indeed Banks' decision to include the pitiful Tony Yayo on his record shows his undying allegiance to the G-unit cause, an admirable quality. This loyalty is rewarded by 50 cent when the head honcho provides an insanely catchy chorus for the aptly named track 'Payback'. All in all the first few songs are a throwback to classic 'Stunt 101' G-unit, and my £4 illegally burnt CD days of year 8.
After reminding us of what put the G in the unit, Banks goes on to recast himself as the groups loveable brother and does so with definite success. He bravely steps outside his Shady/Aftermath comfort zone by including features from the likes of: Styles P, Kanye West, Raekwon, Fabolous, Ryan Leslie and one-time dipset rival Juelz Santana. This gamble has paid off in the clubs. No self respecting DJ would dare complete a set without including H.F.M.2's stand-out club banger 'Beamer, Benz or Bentley'. This is a track whose pervading melody alongside the occasional sample of a submarine horn provides a tasty insight into how a rave on-board a U.S Naval ship may sound, supposing Jay-z or P-Diddy make it to the Oval Office. Moreover, 'Start it Up' too provides a competent soundtrack to a party looking to escape the repetitive sounds of bashment and funky. This track sees Banks display his lyrical prowess yet again. He rhymes the exact same syllable for around half of his verse without sounding ridiculous (Tony Yayo take note). As usual Mr West provides some well delivered humour on this feature when telling us about the time he: “met a MILF at the All-Star,getting action/ a cougar with more rings that Phil Jackson”
This is very much a serious album as well. Banks speaks potently of his immortality, his failed relationships and his childhood. A personal favourite is 'Father Time' in which Banks raps at great speed yet manages to retain 20/20 clarity in his diction. This track speaks of his attempt to arise from hip hop mediocrity (a task I believe he achieved with H.F.M) and of his hopes to be remembered amidst a fickle music scene that provides very few with time to be noticed. The sheer clarity of his words, alongside the fact that Banks himself sings the chorus shows us just how much of an emotive reflection on his career this song is. This self-analytical tone is continued in the closing track 'Sooner or Later'. Over a beat akin to something you may hear at an African- American funeral service Banks decides to comes to terms with his immortality and solemnly reflects on the death of his friends. Prior to this Banks has already provided a surprising apology to a special lady whom he has wronged on his latest single 'I Don’t Deserve You' ft Jeremih. Banks' moment in the psychologists chair is now complete.
It is safe to say that this albums poor sales are by no means an indication of its quality. For some reason or another Lloyd Banks has failed to gather sufficient hype around himself as to create a commercially successful album. Nevertheless this album is a hidden gem, which on discovery provides the listener with much to think about and to dance to. This album surely sees Banks regain his original form and revert of his G-unit best.