With 50 Cent becoming more and more enamored with movie trailers than vocal booths, the time has finally come for Lloyd Banks to step to the forefront. With the release of his third album, H.F.M. 2 (The Hunger For More 2), there’s an obvious focus on the commercial side of things now that the Southside Queens native is waving the G-Unit flag by his lonesome. When 50 was reigning terror on the airwaves, Banks was able to keep the core G-Unit fan base appeased with street bangers like “On Fire,” “Cake,” and “I’m So Fly” where getting money and stuntin’ were the main objectives. Now the attention is applied in varying degrees towards the fairer sex.
The Boy Wonder successfully caters to both both sets on the boisterous “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley,” the lead single that proved its staying power throughout the summer. The same goes for “Start It Up,” where assists by Kanye West, Fabolous, Swizz Beatz and Ryan Lesile make for a lively ode to the extravagant lifestyle, guaranteeing to ignite or keep a party going. After that, things get dicey with the womanizing “Any Girl.” As far as radio jingles go, by no means is it a bad song. But the saccharine infused chorus and jovial keys will probably alienate as many old fans as it does to bring him new fans.
That doesn’t mean Banks has entirely forgotten the tastes of his long-time fans. He pledges his allegiance to the grind and all that comes with the territory over the opening arc of the album. The backdrops get leaner and the tone more aggressive with cuts like “Undeniable” where Banks and Styles P. trade verses on their insatiable thirst for dinero. Lloyd’s at his grimiest on “Take Em To War,” when flanked by Tony Angel. The remaining Gorillas show the only thing more important than acquiring wealth is protecting it at all costs. Besides Banks, producer Cardiak is the constant, whose driving baselines and piano flourishes allow the MC’s to take center stage.
As mentioned earlier, Banks’ sights are focused on more than the block this go around and that extended time out of his comfort zone is where most of his mishaps occur. “On The Double,” fueled by a sped-up sample from The WatcherZ, doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album sonically and Banks’ voice is completely lost in the mix. When combined with uninspired braggadocio and rhyme schemes, the attempt for club dominance falls flat on its face. Blue Hef also makes an extended appearance again with Ryan Leslie for “So Forgetful” and “I Don’t Deserve You” featuring Jeremih. On the former, he plays with the ladies heads over a sappy set of chords from Leslie, whereas the latter finds him pulling the “it’s me, not you” card which is better suited for romantic comedies than coming from a player’s mouth.
Both are blatant radio records which once again will not please his core fans—especially if they never make it to radio. This is exactly why Banks is caught between a rock and a hard place on his rebound LP. The music he excels at isn’t quite as marketable as it once was and it is well known that G-Unit is about moving units. Despite coming up with three great singles, Banks leaves more to be desired. Ironically, it’s the hunger for more highlights that holds this album back.