Lloyd Banks is garnering the kind of acclaim Jadakiss earned, back in the late '90s, and for the same reasons: a series of high-profile mixtapes, an alliance with a superstar rap crew (50 Cent's platinum-certified G-Unit), and a distinct voice, cool and husky, that expresses a surprising elegance.
Banks is just as obsessed with hits as the next rapper, and he's stocked his debut, The Hunger for More, with a discful of possibilities. Some of them, such as "Warrior" or "If You So Gangsta," hit the mark, smoothly blending dark, menacing beats with restrained cockiness. But there are more than a few misses, from the plodding opener "Ain't No Click" to "Warrior Part 2," an ineffective collaboration with Eminem, 50 Cent, and Nate Dogg.
Both The Hunger for More and Jadakiss' latest, Kiss of Death, represent a decidedly uncomplicated approach to hit-making. They deal in stock themes, from party-rocking anthems (Banks' "On Fire") to groupie cuts (Kiss's "Hot Sauce to Go") and thug anthems. Unlike Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die, there are no overarching concepts to lend any sense of purpose beyond the pleasures of the rap life, however ephemeral or lasting.
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