With the recent decline in G-Unit’s popularity, and more importantly; sales, Lloyd Banks has been put in a “make or break” situation. The first G-Unit artist not named 50 to go platinum, the weight of his label is put soley on his shoulders. With recent flops from Mobb Deep (an album that has yet to go gold), and the extremely popular “G-Unot” campaign still in full effect, does Banks have what it takes to bring back the once powerful label? Or does he even have enough savvy punchlines and slick hooks to top his well received solo album, “The Hunger For More”??? He answers these questions with his sophomore effort, “Rotten Apple”.
1.) Rotten Apple feat. 50 Cent, Prodigy: After a very climatic intro, the title track opens with with 50, Prodigy, and Banks sticking to the original Guerilla Unit formula. This track works suprisingly well. Bank’s punchlines flow smoothly over this grimey New York instrumental.
2.) Survivor: Another mellow beat follows, with Banks harmonizing the hook (wonder who he learned that from?). Bank’s punchlines are again on point, but this track is nothing more then mixtape material. Nothing stands out, and that’s what ends up hurting it the most.
3.) Playboy 2: The original “Playboy” (featured on “The Hunger For More”) is a classic track in every sense of the word. A very intimidating bassline backed up with Bank’s punchlines and smooth delivery made it perfect. The sequel lacks in every aspect. The beat is another bland instrumental lacking punch. Bank’s hook is uninspired; and makes for another track you’d expect on one of Bank’s mixtapes.
4.) The Cake feat. 50 Cent: A very well put together track, features a clever sample, and Banks turns it into a great track. 50 does well here also, as this makes for one of the better tracks on the album.
5.) Make A Move: Live drums are blended with the beat, as Banks croons and sings the hook again. His flow is put to use on this track, and really puts the shine on him, strictly because of it. The beat is up tempo, and works well for the G-Unit soldier. Good track.
6.) Hands Up feat. 50 Cent: Featuring production from Eminem, this is your typical G-Unit single. 50 singing the hook, and Banks inviting everyone to come party with him. Verses are suprisingly good here; as Bank’s showcases his punchline savvy to a national market. Doesn’t save the track though. Very dissapointing choice for a single.
7.) Help feat. Keri Hilston: A very smooth track for the ladies, featuring a relaxing piano influenced instrumental. Banks shows the ladies he cares with an impecible flow. Good choice for the second single, and video. Top notch track, where Banks shines the most.
8.) Addicted feat. Musiq Soulchild: Just looking at this track, I expected a perfect collaboration. While it is decent, something’s missing. The beat isn’t on Soulchild’s level, as Banks spits more bars about his clout and wealth. Average track at best.
9.) You Know The Deal feat. Rakim: Despite the tracklist, this DOES NOT feature Rakim. It samples him perfectly, however, as Bank’s showcases his best flow on the album, that really lets you “know the deal”. Great track; and is Bank’s in his purest form.
10.) Get Clapped feat. Mobb Deep: Boring production, and Prodigy’s lackluster flow ruin this track for the most part. Havoc comes correct, and Banks is in typical punchline fashion, but makes for an unworthy track.
11.) Stranger: Yet another song that finds Bank performing his own hooks. While it works sometimes, in this case it doesn’t. A very monotonous hook, and average verses (at best) make for a fairly boring track. I expected more out of Banks, at this point.
12.) Change: A little bit of improvement is shown on this track. Bank’s growth as an artist is apparent, and if more tracks were made like this, maybe he’d be able to branch off on his own.
13.) NY NY feat. Tony Yayo: “NY NY” features another track produced by Eminem. Good track none the less, and finds Banks and Yayo spitting good verses. More of a track I expected out of an album titled “Rotten Apple”. One of the album’s highlights.
14.) One Night Stand: Very, very good track. Soulful hook, and is once again something I’d expect out of Bank’s. The end of the album proves to be the best. Great track.
15.) Iceman feat. Young Buck, 8Ball, Scarface: Attempt at appealing the southern audience, Banks falls out of place here, but manages to save the track with appearences from southern legends. Catchy hook, smooth bassline, and great guest appearences, make for a good track.
16.) Gilmore’s: Although failry short, this track (while not the best to close out an album) is very catchy and has an addicting beat. Pretty original concept, and the hook is above average for the most part.
So did Bank’s live up to the hype? In my opinion: No. The reason for this is, he’s so concerned with keeping it street on this album and saving good songs for his mixtapes, that it hurt his sophomore solo. While not terrible, this probably won’t go down as Bank’s best work down the line in his career. While some tracks are superb, some tracks are terrible. My advice to the Unit, if you’re looking for somebody to re-kindle the flame, Bank’s isn’t your best choice right now.