interview LLOYD BANKS & TONY YAYO (June 2008) | Interview By: Lil Jay

We're one week away from the release of G-Unit's new record "Terminate On Sight", due out July 1st. With the always-working-formula "beef and drama" dominating the past few weeks and stealing the focus from the actual album, the anticipation for the new record isn't at an all-time high (not just around here).

So it's only right that we confront and sit down with partners in crime Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo for an indepth interview. We discussed the entire creating process of the new album as well as the recent mixtapes, of course the latest happenings with the Young Buck situation and the rest of G-Unit records, dealing with industry hate, touring the world, and much more.  

As always we have both the transcript and the audio for you to check and please feel free to send any feedback regarding the interview to: liljay@dubcnn.com



Interview was done by phone in June 2008

Questions Asked By : Lil Jay

Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Click Here

Full Interview In Audio: Here


Dubcnn: You guys got back from touring in Africa and Australia not too long ago. Now that you've probably toured most countries by now, are there still special moments on the road that you expierence for the first time?

Lloyd Banks: Most definitely. Some of these places, I'm going to for the first time. A lot of them I've been to with 50, and some I've been back to by myself. But this trip is my first time going to Angola and Tansania. Everywhere else I've been before, but even then, like Yayo, this is his first time coming to a lot of places. So that has a significance in its own right there. Cause it's one thing just being out there and not having nobody to experience the time with. And then it's another thing to be out there and have your crew there. So those were the things missing that are here this time. First we went to Australia to Sidney, Brisbane, Golf Coast, Melbourne, and New Zealand. And then from New Zealand we went back to Africa. From Tansania to Angola, and Cape Town where they kept Nelson Mandela locked up for 27 years. We got a chance to visit that prison. So it was a very interesting trip.

Dubcnn: How was it different to perform for audiences in Africa?

Lloyd Banks: Shit, the audience is.... Yo man, let me tell you something: When you go overseas, the further you go, the more you are appreciated. It's because they don't get a chance to see you as much as the local town. So when you go out there it's a surprise that you even came and they don't know when's the next time you're coming back. So they're giving equal energy, because you don't know when's the next time you're gonna be back to those markets. So when you get there you're performing your heart out. Our requirements to be on stage is an hour, and sometimes we end up on stage for over 2 hours. And that's due to the energy that we get from the crowd. It's an amazing thing that music breaks language barriers. I've been through China, Korea, Japan, Africa, Europe, Russia, so many different places. And you hear them speaking your words, it just shows you how far you've come.

Dubcnn: Speaking of touring, a good promo tool y'all been using on the road is the ThisIs50.com outlet, so it's even easier for you to showcase new music and videos. How would you compare the avenues of a new artist nowadays, compared to 15 years ago when they didnt have all that help?

Lloyd Banks: It has its flaws and its pluses. The plus is that you're actually able to benefit off of the same audience that was bootlegging and downloading anyway. So you take them and you feed them now. It's the same thing in the streets when people couldn't afford to go pay $16.99 for a cd, they would pay four to five dollars, maybe even three dollars, from the local bootlegger. And now it just converted to the actual PC. More people are on computers than they watch TV, which is giving them music on-demand on their computer. So they can just take one record off the album that they like without even having to purchase the album. So with ThisIs50.com, it's giving people ideas of how to take the negative side of downloading and turning it into a positive thing with being able to feed them directly. And it also gives an opportunity for the people all through the UK, South America, everywhere, to actually hear the music the same time that New York City is, because it's being launched on a world-wide base.

But it changed! Like you said, 15 years ago, I don't even know what the business was. I was still in school! But I know now that you just have to adapt. The same way we went from vinyl to tape to cd to mp3 to iPod, you just gotta stay on your toes and find the best way to capitalize off the way technology is changing.

Dubcnn: The G-Unit crew is down to its founding members again; Fifty, Yayo, Banks. How was the chemistry during the recording of this album?

Lloyd Banks: Oh the chemistry, it's a beautiful thing. It's the chemistry that I've become comfortable with, it's the only chemistry I really knew because I never really recorded with too many artists outside of my core and the people that I came in the industry with. Not saying that I wouldn't, but we've been having so much success on our own and we never really stopped touring. So it was no opportunities to even be in the studio with producers. So the point we're at now, we're coming back to that same core. It's something new also, because Yayo was incarcerated so he wasn't here. So that's a breath of fresh air all over again. Unfortunately, Buck is not [part of it anymore] due to the fall out with Fifty. He's still on G-Unit Records and he's still on three or four records on the album. So his performance is still there. But hey, nothing stays the same. It's back to the three men that got us here, so it's time to take it from here to another level.

Dubcnn: How would you compare "Terminate On Sight" to "Beg For Mercy?"

Lloyd Banks: It has similar content. We come from the same vein, we grew up together, so it doesn't really matter if we're recording in Africa or wherever. The songs are always gonna be based off where we're coming from. The vibe is kinda the same, cause situations don't change man, only the faces. We're going to the same struggles and it will all be through this album. The only difference is that on the first album it was really me, Buck, Fifty, and Yayo was on like one or two songs. And now it's kinda like the opposite, with me, Yayo, Fifty, and Buck is on a selected few records.

Tony Yayo: I can tell you all that. For the "Beg For Mercy" album I was incarcerated on Rikers Island. I wasn't really on the album, I was only on two songs. On "Terminate On Sight", which is coming out July 1st, we were in the studio all together. It wasn't no Jimmy Iovine or anybody telling us what to do or to make radio ready records. These records are straight from the streets. We got a couple of joints for the clubs from Swizz Beatz and Dangerous LLC. And me and Banks really A&R'ed the project, so I think that's the difference. And Yayo is on the album! I was only on two songs on "Beg For Mercy".

Lloyd Banks: But at the same time, we are creative. We make records like "I Like the Way She Do It", "No Days Off", "Death Around The Corner", "Party Ain't Over", fun records like "I Get Down", the Swizz Beatz record. You have to be creative in able to make a complete record. Ladies looking for music too, you know? You gotta have records that cater to all kind of markets. But for the most part, the bulk of the album is agressive. And I think it's the time, like Yayo said, it's the time. Crime is up, murder is up, everything is up. Economy is down.

Tony Yayo: Yeah, it's a struggle everywhere. When we go to markets like Angola, these dudes is bumpin' joints off my album and Fifty's album cause it's agressive where they from. When you go to Africa, they not poppin' and snappin' like that. They're going through everyday struggle, they're fighting for shoes and hats and stuff like that. So when you see three dudes that came from the bottom, and become the number one group in the world - and don't forget what we did for L.A. and Down South, because we created artists like Game and Buck - for us to branch out all over the world, you know G-Unit is gonna give you some good product July 1st. You already know. Like "Rider Part 2" (sings) was a mixtape record that went straight to the radio on its own. And then "I Like The Way She Do It", everybody loves that. The new producer Stereo, we're giving new producers chances. I mean come on, look what we did for the mixtape game!

Dubcnn: Did the feedback from the recent mixtapes give you any extra inspiration on what direction you wanna go with the album songs?

Tony Yayo: Of course, I'm glad to hear the fans telling me I stepped my game up. But sometimes I take it as a smack in the face, cause I feel like I been hot. I just feel like they didn't have a chance to hear me. Because "Thoughts Of A Predicate Felon" sold 800,000 records while I was on house arrest. So the feedback from "Elephant in the Sand" and "Return of the Body Snatchers" was crazy. But when I'm in the studio with monsters like Fifty and Banks, I gotta go hard. To me, that's my biggest competition. Fifty and Banks, Eminem and Dr. Dre. When I'm in the studio with these guys and they go hard, I go hard. And you gonna hear the hunger on "T.O.S."

Dubcnn: Who handled the production on the album and who you got on there as far as features?

Tony Yayo: Well you got Polow Da Don on there, Dangerous LLC, Swizz Beatz. You also got a lot of new producers, shout out to Stereo, he's on there. And collectively we got a couple of surprises on there. But you got Lloyd Banks on there, 50 Cent, and me.

Lloyd Banks: I mean that's enough right there. Myself, Fifty and Yayo. Plus, we don't really look what other people are doing. Fortunately, we've been touring and on the move a lot. So there's not a lot of time to go fly to Miami or to Atlanta meet with these producers. With the exception of Swizz Beatz, all other records got done in the studio with us there. We're not gonna force any features or anything like that. We just stick to the core.

Tony Yayo: And you know, we let Young Buck eat still, so he's on like three songs.

Dubcnn: Was Buck originally on all the songs and was later on removed?

Tony Yayo: What happened was, at the process of doing this album, Buck was just bugging out. So the songs he was on were left there, nobody took him off any songs. He was doing what he wanted to do, while me and Banks was in the studio working. I guess he just did what he wanted to do, moving on to do his solo projects. Cause he's still on the G-Unit label, just not in the collective. Him and 50 is going through their things, but to me, I feel like he was bugging out. This guy is crazy sometimes. Sometimes people let money, women and fast cars get to their head. But you should never forget who you are and where you came from. Because I remember being on the corner in Southside with Banks dreaming about this. So, Fifty took Buck from UTP, because nobody even knew him when he was around Juvenile. That's a blessing right there, not just because of the million dollars he made.

Lloyd Banks: I mean, you gain and lose to a certain extend, because it was a time that existed before him and after him. Of course the groundwork he's put in is evident, he's been around for five years. But when you say that it just makes you wonder, like, how the fuck did he just go left field so fast? Nobody planned this, nobody planned that one day we're gonna wake up and Buck is not gonna be involved in the group.

Tony Yayo: I mean, I don't understand how people just can't see the situation for what it is. I guess the guy is tired of being who he was in his career, tired of being around the Unit. He wants to focus more on himself, so let him focus himself. It's not like we told Buck to get out of here. Dude sits around and wants to be Fifty, while Banks and Yayo want to be themselves. I don't wanna be Fifty. Fifty is him, Eminem is his own entity, Dr. Dre is his own entity. I don't wanna be them. I would love to sell as much records as they did, hey, I wouldn't mind! But a lot of statements that Buck made in his career were dumb, a lot of stuff that he said in the media was dumb. Like when he said he's gonna sell more than Eminem and Fifty. It's good to think that, but sometimes the things you say in the media, you should think before you talk. He gets on the radio and claims Fifty doesn't call him. Jay-Z doesn't call Beanie Sigel or Freeway when he tells them he's dropping them off Roc-A-Fella Records. Some of them dudes don't even know what his couch looks like! As for relationships with Fifty, Fifty embraced everybody. From M.O.P. to Mobb Deep to Hot Rod to Spider Loc. They all got love, they all came to the house before and popped bottles.

Dubcnn: Did all of the talk about Young Buck leaving the group influence the album at all?

Lloyd Banks: I don't think it changed the tone of the album. If you listened to "Beg For Mercy", it was really a New York sounding album, as far as the production is considered. So it's kinda in the vein of the New York feel. So I don't think that too much of that sound is missing. If anything, it's just from the artist that people have come to know as Young Buck, that's what's missing from the album. Outside of that, we're still in the same vein. We grew up together, come from the same neighborhood, share similar experiences. So, everything happens for a reason.

Tony Yayo: I don't think it changed or influenced any direction at all. Because Banks is hungry, I'm hungry. You ain't heard of us in a while, we got something to prove. It's always been G-Unit against the world, so I don't feel it changed anything. Honestly, I'm getting really tired of Buck questions, because I feel like that's the most media Buck ever got in his life. It's either you're with the Unit and get publicity or you're against the Unit and get publicity. That's why I don't talk about Game really too much anymore, because I know his game plan is to get publicity. His only strategy is G-Unit. That's why when XXL comes out with a magazine, the next magazine, instead of having Snoop or somebody on the cover, they throw Game on there cause G-Unit was just there. So it's like, these dude go against us just to get publicity, cause it's the most publicity you guys give them in their life. And y'all wonder why I don't do it! Because I'm not gonna sell my soul to the devil for publicity or the industry. For nobody! I'ma be me and enjoy my life.

But as far as the Buck situation, I don't speak to Buck period. He doesn't even know what my new son looks like. So there is really nothing to talk about. I feel like the relationship I have with Banks and Fifty was way different from the beginning, cause Banks lived right around the corner, I knew him my whole life. I know his mother, I know his grandmother. I can go over there and get a slice of cake when he's not there. Fifty as well, I know all his family. Buck was put into a good situation while I was incarcerated. I feel like he should be more appreciative towards Banks and Fifty, cause to me, those are the two people that made him. Like I said, when he was on a bus with Juvenile on UTP, you didn't know Buck. They was calling Buck Yayo! Sometimes I look at it as a smack in the face when the media says "Yo, why did y'all kick him out the group", cause he's making it seem like we're the bad guys. How are we the bad guys when you collectively made over five million dollars. How are we the bad guys when you owe 350,000 right now, cause you're having tax problems. How are we the bad guys right now, tell me! We were focusing on the album while you were running around focusing on yourself.

Sometimes people let media get to their head. But not me, cause I say F. the media, I say F. Interscope, I say F. everybody, except for Banks and Fifty. It doesn't matter to me, cause that was the circle from the start. I think they forgot that me and Banks helped make this empire, before Buck was around. So when he goes around pleading for sympathy from the media it kinda upsets me, because you shouldn't be pleading for nothing. Your house in Cashville that you have is because of Fifty, the girl that's braiding your hair is because of Banks, the babysitter that you got is because of G-Unit. Everything that you have is collectively from the Unit. Basically, that's what it is. But it's no love lost with Buck. It is what it is.

Dubcnn: The beat to "Rider Part 2" was originally 40 Glocc's "Hammers" track. What's the story behind it becoming a G-Unit track?

Lloyd Banks: Yeah, 40 used the record before, he never purchased the beat though.

Tony Yayo: I think it was just a coincidence. It happens a lot. On this album, the joint "T.O.S." that's on the album, it's produced by Ty Fyffe, shouts to him. So Banks had to be in his studio, Fifty had to be in his studio and I had to be in my studio. We did three separate records in different places and came together and just made one song, that's what makes that song kinda special to me, cause we all picked the same beat.

Dubcnn: G-Unit started expanding a lot after the success, and now in the last year or so it kinda shrunk again. What do you think is the reason behind that?

Tony Yayo: I mean, contractually, everbody is still signed to G-Unit. From Hot Rod to M.O.P. to Mobb Deep. Shout out to Prodigy, he's incarcerated now at Downstate Correctional Facility. Havoc is still making beats. As far as M.O.P., they had their little issues and they have to get that together, but contractually they're still on G-Unit. As well as Hot Rod and Spider Loc and everybody else. It's not shrinking, it just goes back to the original format where me, Banks, and Fifty is in the studio going hard. Buck is still on the label too. So you can believe anything you wanna believe, but he's still on the label, he's still on the Unit. It's like, nobody disrespected Buck, he made the moves that he wanted to make. He complained about royalties, but I never had a royalty or publishing problem ever in my life. I never had any complaints about it. I live in a million dollar home and have nice vehicles. I live the life that you're supposed to live on G-Unit. We live in a nice neighborhood like half an hour away from the hood. So I get to jump in my car and go to the hood to see what's going on, and the same people are still on the corner!

But for me to be where I'm at, I'm happy man. If I die tomorrow, I'm good where Tony Yayo's career is at and where G-Unit's career is at. We'll always be remembered no matter what. I feel like G-Unit is the number one rap group in the world. I feel like we came from nothing and y'all seen us from the transition of having something. And then you know, more money, more problems. That's why we talk about the issues we have in the streets, cause ain't nothing changed, we still got issues. Banks' father passed, I went through some things, my mommas pad getting shot up last year, gotta bail people out, friends getting in trouble. It's more money, more problems.

Dubcnn: So would you say it's true that the more success you have, the more hate you get?

Lloyd Banks: I really can't call it like a honest hate, because the people listen to the music. I can't remember the last group you call washed up, but get more attention than any other rappers out there. Usually when you're washed up, nobody wants to talk to you. Nobody wants to talk to you or interview you. Did you interview Ja Rule anytime?

Dubcnn: No.

Lloyd Banks: Yeah, exactly. That's when you're washed up and nobody wants to talk to you. We're not washed up, we're just the most hated.

Tony Yayo: G-Unit against the world!

Lloyd Banks: It is what it is baby, but you can't stop this. This is a god given talent that we're sharing with the world. This is gonna keep going until we decide for it to stop.

Tony Yayo: I view it the same way. Like he said, you're not interviewing Ja Rule or all the other wack MC's. You're interviewing the number one group in the world. We created the mixtape game when you really look at it. Mixtapes were always there, but nobody ever did it in that same format and with the guns on the cover. Nobody did that, nobody! We're the ones that turned from guys wanting to beat up bootleggers to guys wanting to hug bootleggers, because they blew their cd up in the store. We're the guys that took the mixtape level to a whole other plateau where everybody else wanna put out mixtapes. We're the guys that took a DJ [Whoo Kid] and turned him into a universal DJ, he's in Dubai and Bahrain doing shows. We're the guys that sold over 30 million records. We're the guys, come on man, you know we're the guys! I sold records on house arrest sitting on my toilet, I sold 800,000. We're the guys that our mixtapes get downloaded online now, so anybody who does the online thing copied it from ThisIs50.com. We get over a million downloads on mixtapes, we sold more than Fat Joe's album! "Elephant in the Sand" sold more than "Elephant in the Room" online.

We're the guys that tour non-stop. I haven't had an album out in 2 years, and I'm tourring non-stop with Fifty and Banks. We're the guys that's definitely gonna give you a guaranteed hit. We're gonna give you "On Fire", "So Seductive", "Just A Lil' Bit". We're the guys that made Game, we're the guys that wrote six records for him. We're the guys that made Buck also. So look at what we've created within Hip Hop. And you know what? We're the guys from the bottom, that's the main thing. We're from Southside Jamaica, Queens. Now I drive around in Bentleys, Banks just bought the Lambo. We didn't have no money and now we collectively made millions. You gotta look at that.

[But as far as the hate goes], I think our drive is why G-Unit always been hated from the beginning. When Fifty did "How to Rob", he got blackballed from Ja Rule and Irv Gotti when they was on top. Banks always talks about the resistance, and it's always a resistance with G-Unit. Our records are the ones that's gotta be super super clean. We get different treatment than anybody else. But to me, I wake up in the morning and I always look at it as G-Unit against the world. It's been like that ever since I came home.

Dubcnn: How often can you drop an album without losing quality? You know, they say your debut album is the strongest.

Tony Yayo: Listen, let me explain something to you: They just feel like that because it's something new coming out. That's my opinion. But Banks can explain it to you better than me, because he had a second album come out.

Lloyd Banks: I think music marks time. So the way you felt about your favorite album when it came out, it's because of the time and the place your life was at. If you was dead broke and you had two pennies to rob together, Biggie came out with his shit. He was saying similar things through his music and he was telling you about his struggle. So the significance to you and him might be a little stronger than it is for artists that already had the money. So it's the same transition when you take an artist going from that. When Biggie did "Life After Death", that was after the money came. He was making songs like "I'm Going Back to Cali" and "Hypnotize" and "I'm Fuckin You Tonight". He was in a different space, he wasn't talking about "Gimme the Loot, Gimme the Loot" and "Suicidal Thoughts". So as your artist grows, you have to grow with him. And it doesn't mean the quality is not the same, it just means the subject matter changes a little bit. But like he said, more money, more problems. And everytime I go through my neighborhood I see somebody that reminds me of how hard I worked it. I can't say lucky, because we put the work in, but how fortunate to actually be in the position to sit here and talk to you over the phone.


Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Click Here

Full Interview In Audio: Here


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