The music business has evolved in the last 5 years or so. In short, it's less about music and more about business nowadays. Branding, to be precise, is the cornerstone of today's industry. G-Unit? Psshhh, that's a brand name. Like Pepsi, that’s a brand name. They stand behind it. They guarantee it, even if you don’t know them any more than you know the chairman of Interscope. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you G-Unit.Fellas, congratulations on your second album, Terminate on Sight. Yayo, how do you feel going into this album?
Tony Yayo: Thank you, I feel great. Beg for Mercy was an album that sold 3 million copies worldwide. I was happy to even have my picture on there while I was incarcerated, you know what I mean. 50, Banks, Eminem, and everybody else held me down. Basically, I'm just happy to be on the project as much as I am. You haven't heard from me since Thoughts of a Predicate Felon. You haven't heard from Banks since Rotten Apple so it's going to be crazy.
What's the main difference between Beg for Mercy and Terminate on Sight?Lloyd Banks: The first album was recorded in the process of recording my solo album, The Hunger for More. And Buck was recording for his solo album Straight Outta Cashville. Also, there was a lot of material that was not used from 50's first album that ended up on Beg for Mercy. And it was crazy for a lot of different reasons just because that record put me on as a solo artist. It took me from the club straight to the stadium, 'cause I had 3 or 4 songs. The importance of the T.O.S. (Terminate on Sight) album is kinda the same because the last single might just lead into the next solo album. Now we're in a state of hip-hop where the person that was No.1 is the person that's getting seen the most. You don't even have to be the hottest, you could just be out there the most. That's what the album does: it bridges the gaps between albums.
Interesting. You mentioned that Buck was part of the first album. How will his exit change the dimension of the group?Yayo: It's better for me. (Laughs)
I mean, that's just more space on the album for me, so it's better for me. I mean, truthfully it's not affecting me. I look at Buck like...I kind of lost respect for Buck.
Being the only southern artist, he brought a peculiar flavor to the table. Will his absence take away from the album?Yayo: I don't think that'll take away from the album. He's on 3 songs on the album and he's still on G-Unit Records. He just had to go do his solo album. I mean, I lost respect for him in the way he did it. I wouldn't have done it in that manner. To me, I think the album is even better.
2007 and 2008 have been rough for everybody in the Unit. Banks lost his father; 50 Cent was going through what he was going through; My mother's house got shot up. And basically, we're still putting out music -- we got issues. It's G-Unit against the world. As for Buck not being on the album as much, I don't think it's affecting anything. I think it's showing people what kind of skills that Yayo has that you don't get to hear. A lot of people have been telling me that they love my performances but Beg for Mercy and Elephant in the Sand is the best they ever heard from me. You know, I took it as both a compliment and a diss. I just feel that people ain't get to hear Yayo as much. You know, Thoughts of a Predicate Felon, I did that whole album on house arrest. I had an ankle bracelet on and still got 800,000. I couldn't go to BET or MTV and promote what I had to promote because I was on house arrest.
With all the tragedies that you guys faced recently, what type of life lessons do you draw from these experiences and how do they affect you when you step inside the recording booth?Banks: I mean, it's not really a lesson. The situation with my pops, that's something that's promised -- you never beg for it. Anything you do for a certain amount of time becomes a habit. Days go by 24 hours, but ours go by 12 hours a day because we live so fast. So, you never really buckle down to think about those kinda things because you're always on the move. The issues affect you, and everybody has a right to deal with it in their own way. Some people can deal with it by going out and venting and just bugging out and sh*t. But with me, somethings have to be kept personal. My mother just got out of the hospital from the car wreck. She totaled the Escalade and cracked her skull in two places, so she'll be kinda like in the bed for the next month.
Sorry to hear about that.Banks: It's OK. The roughest part is, I was actually in Africa like a day before my birthday. So, all this is going on at the same time and it's hard to maintain with the media and deal with that kind of sh*t. That's why I fell back a little bit. It's just evident that you never know when things are going to happen, so I just cope with it, man. I don't let it get to me.
Obviously you were going through difficult times and seeing some success at the same time. Do you ever stop and take it all in?Banks: I've never been on a vacation, yo. I've never been on a vacation. I've been in places where they vacate at, but to this point we never took a vacation. I'm not lying. Like wherever we go, we got a concert or something going on there and we make the best of it. But I never took 5 days or 4 days to just relax. We're in the studio most of the time. People don't understand. I think the success and the business sense that goes along with G-Unit overwhelms and overshadows the love we have for the music.
Beef. Is it a distraction or an advantage?Yayo: I don't even think these dudes want beef with us. It's just competition, you understand. Like Fat Joe's fat ass, we chased him out of MTV last time he said something smart out of his mouth. So, I don't think dudes really want beef. When they see us they know what it is. It's always been competition. Hip-hop has always been competition from KRS-One and MC Shan, from Whodini and KRS-One, from all the battles that we remember.