A debate about the best entries in G-Unit’s catalogue should generally begin with Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and end with The Documentary. However, one oft-overlooked G-Unit merits at least an honorable mention amongst the aforesaid titans: Lloyd Banks’ The Hunger for More. The 2004 release featured stellar production and memorable cameos. Banks himself lived up to his reputation for being the Unit’s top lyricist with his special blend of nihilism and playboy mentality.
Few of the same accolades could be extended to Banks’ 2006 follow-up, Rotten Apple. Whether it was due to the initial iteration of the album being scrapped, Banks’ mother’s health issues, or a Shady/Aftermath camp in disarray for a number of well-documented reasons, the sophomore effort just didn’t match the debut. No longer on Interscope, Lloyd Banks has returned to the album that started it all – but does The Hunger for More 2 follow in the first’s traditions, or did the Queens rapper simply catch sequelitis?
“Take ‘Em to War” is loud, synth and drum-laden, and energetic – the perfect way to kick off festivities. An unusually animated Banks comes out swinging, and passes the mic to Tony Yayo for a textbook give-and-go. The street talk carries over into “Unexplainable,” which features the always-gully Styles P. The track’s low, ominous keys allow provide the perfect canvas for the two veterans to talk shit. “Home Sweet Home” features a chilling verse from Pusha T, callous even by his standards, and the results are show-stealing: “I never understood Martin Luther with his speech / With the whole world watching, me turn the other cheek? / Never, so there’s one left to die in the streets / ‘Cause the long arm happens to connect with his reach / Try to kill you then / Them near-misses? God’s kisses / …White stones, black steel, cold chrome / The city’s my doormat, bitch, I’m home sweet home.”
Following “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” Banks’ biggest hit since “On Fire,” What looks like an obligatory track for the ladies seems to crop up with the Ryan Leslie-assisted “So Forgetful.” However, it turns out to be a pleasant surprise, as the track is more Too Short than it is Drake. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of “Any Girl” an excruciating “club-ready” fiasco featuring Lloyd. Any hope for a good closing seems remote, as next up is “I Don’t Deserve You” featuring Jeremih, but an assist from Raekwon on the soulful and gritty “Sooner or Later” is a saving grace.
It’s true that The Hunger For More 2 suffers from the law of diminishing returns with regard to the excessive number of featured spots, but most of the guests bring their A-game. Also, a few quality control issues – no one should have to listen to “on the double,” and “Start it Up” is does not make good use of the presence of Swizz Beatz and Kanye West – prevent the album from truly remaining for its entirety. Despite this, HFM2 does indeed revisit the original roots. The execution isn’t as good the second time around, but Banks has reestablished his sound, and made clear that he is still a major force to be reckoned with in the Rap game.