Terminate on Sight, the new G-Unit album, is dropping in July 1st. Why did you guys push it back?
Tony Yayo: 50’s shooting a movie with Sharon Stone for six weeks, as soon as we got off the tour from Angola and Africa. So we didn’t have a lot of time to promote and do radio promotion and we believe radio promotion is the best promotion.
Is radio promotion as important today as it was before the internet took off?
Tony Yayo: Yeah. Radio’s going to always be important because with spins, MTV and everybody else, they go by BDS spins on the radio. So whatever is spinning on the radio, that’s when MTV and these other stations pick up your record. If your record isn’t spinning on the radio, it will not be playing on TV.
Lloyd Banks: Exactly. “Ryder Part 2” is actually a freestyle that the radio played so much because there was such a demand for it that it turned into one of the first singles.
Did the success of “Ryder Part 2” catch you off-guard?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. You never know [what is going to be a hit]. If you release it on your own without the help of the radio…We make a lot of material. We put out two mixtapes before this album, Return of the Bodysnatchers and The Elephant in the Sand, both of which have 16 records on it. You never know which one is going to do it, but that one just happened to be “Ryder Part 2”.
Do you have to let your hits happen naturally as opposed to forcing them?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. A lot of artists are fools and they’ll go to the studio and think the bigger the studio, the bigger the record. It’s not about the environment. When we lock into the studio, it’s me, Yayo, 50 and the engineer.
Tony Yayo: That’s it.
Lloyd Banks: You really don’t need anybody else’s influence or a bunch of girls around or anything like that to make the record. It just depends on what mood you’re in. We grew up together so usually we’re in the same vein at the end of the day.
How come you guys don’t usually have the producers in the studio with you?
Lloyd Banks: It’s proven that every big-time producer’s every record is not a big-time record. That just goes back to us knowing exactly how we want the record to sound and you can’t be biased as an artist. You have to give the producer the same opportunity that you would want as an artist.
Tony Yayo: And you have to look at their track records. “So Seductive” was done by Punch, a new producer. “I Get Money” was by Apex, a new producer. Look at “I Like The Way She Do It”. These producers come from the basement. It’s just that one beat might cost $50,000 and one beat might cost $3,000. There’s no difference there expect for the price.
Is Terminate on Sight head and shoulders above the first G-Unit album Beg for Mercy in terms of quality music?
Tony Yayo: I would say, for me, in my opinion, I would say it’s better than Beg for Mercy because Tony Yayo’s on it more. It’s everything we went for. I feel like Beg for Mercy was 50’s Ready to Die and now this is Life After Death around here, the second album. It’s crazy because Banks went through a lot of things last year and I went through a lot of things and so did 50. ’07 was a crazy year for us. We put out at least two mixtapes and a lot of people hadn’t heard anything from the Unit. We got over a million downloads on both mixtapes on ThisIs50.com. Come on, man. And now you go to the club and all you hear is “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” You don’t hear nothing else.
You mentioned how ’07 was a challenging year for G-Unit. Being that you’ve all already made a ton of money, is it difficult staying hungry?
Tony Yayo: Once you have a house for $1 million, you want a house for $2 million. You want to keep going and keep going because you never want to go back to the ‘hood. Me, I stay hungry. I know Banks is hungry and I know 50 is hungry. These guys never sleep.
What was it like for you guys touring throughout Africa and Australia?
Lloyd Banks: That was a good experience. Certain places were familiar to me. I had been to a couple places in Africa, like Johannesburg, prior to this trip. This time it was a lot different because I was with 50 and Yayo and we were going through Angola and Tanzania for the first time. We also went through Australia. We hit New Zealand and Cape Town. It was a real, real crazy trip this time, man. We had cameras following us throughout the tour. You can go to ThisIs50.com and you can get a glimpse of what was going on at that time.
Tony Yayo: And I didn’t get to meet Nelson Mandela. I’m still mad about that.
Why didn’t you get to meet Nelson Mandela when 50 Cent did?
Tony Yayo: He’s 90 years-old, so he wakes up really on his time. 50’s road manager called my road manager and told him I had five minutes to get ready. I was sleeping, you know what I mean. We had just come from a 24 hour flight. 50 and them ran out real quick and got a chance to meet Mandela. I didn’t get a chance to meet him though.
Banks, did you meet Nelson Mandela?
Lloyd Banks: Nah, I was knocked up. We had just come off that trip. I smoke, man, and I do other things.
What do you guys think of the parents of the kid who snatched 50’s chain in Angola turning him in?
Tony Yayo: I didn’t even know about that. I know that the show that night was crazy. It was crazy out there. I mean, it’s a third-world country and a lot of rappers don’t even perform there. So for 50 to want to go to Angola, he’s crazy. I’m crazy. Banks is crazy. You know what I mean? Angola, we got love for it. We’ll be back.
Are you ever surprised when fans in countries that you think won’t be familiar with your music actually are?
Tony Yayo: I’m surprised that they know Yayo and they know Banks and they don’t even know English!
Lloyd Banks: It’s kind of crazy out there. I can’t even tell the driver where I want to go but he knows every record that we ever did.
Tony Yayo: And he knows your name. Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo!
Lloyd Banks: And the aka’s. Every time we go out there, they just give us another reason to want to go back out there. They want to know when you’re going to come back. Every time you’re out there, you’re giving 101% and you have to or you’ll get booed like other rappers that tried to go there.
What was the craziest moment of the whole tour?
Lloyd Banks: For me, I had my birthday in Angola, so it was a good thing on two sides because it’s a birthday I’ll never forget and it’s the best thing to do what you love on your birthday. I would rather be on stage in front of thousands of people any day than drinking champagne in the club and bullshitting.
Banks, some fans have noticed that your voice is changing. Have you heard them talking?
Lloyd Banks: People only notice after they complain. All I used to hear was “why doesn’t his voice change?” The moment they hear anything that they feel is a little bit different, they complain about it, so I’m a little bit puzzled about that one. But I’ve grown as an artist. The first time you probably heard me was the first time I was in the booth. I was used to rapping the street and not really knowing how to use my voice. What people don’t know is that after every studio session, I had to drink tea for, like, two or three days straight from straining my voice. I didn’t know how to use it. But the more you’re in the studio, your comfortability grows and your tones change up a little bit. But people just complain and it’s evident that they were in love with what they heard.
How seriously do you guys take fans’ criticism?
Lloyd Banks: You gotta listen to it all, but you gotta learn the difference between constructive criticism and hate. It’s about what applies to you, you use and whatever doesn’t, then you just leave it where it’s at.
Tony Yayo: I agree with that right there. I can take the criticism, but when fans say, “Fuck that bitch-ass nigga,” I’m skipping that right there.
Lloyd Banks: It wasn’t asking you how you felt about me, it’s how you felt about the record.
Tony Yayo: First of all, if a blogger doesn’t have nothing good or bad to say, just talk about something else. If I’m on a computer and I don’t even like Lloyd Banks or Tony Yayo, I’m not even gonna listen. Don’t even waste your time. All you’re doing is wasting your time on something you know you’re not going to love. A lot of bloggers are miserable old people with nothing better to do, or miserable young people in their house, who have nothing better to do. I don’t have time to blog on somebody I don’t like, like Game or Fat Joe.
Lloyd Banks: I respect everybody who does come on and leaves their honest opinion. As long as your opinion is honest, man, I can respect it.
Tony Yayo: And if you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t. Don’t go on there saying, “Fuck Tony Yayo. Fuck him and fuck Tony Yayo’s mother.”
Lloyd Banks: Don’t do that, man. Come on, man.
Tony Yayo: You know what I mean? I don’t want to see all of that.
When I interviewed Game two weeks ago, he said he wasn’t surprised at all that Young Buck got kicked out of G-Unit and that Lloyd Banks would be the next to go. Banks, what do you think of that?
Lloyd Banks: I think he’s torn from a whole ‘nother cloth. Do you know how hard it is to pull apart a brillo pad? That’s me. When you’re shining, it’s real easy for people to get into you and that’s what happened. People get in your lives. We are not the same. By no means, we are not the same. It puzzled me when Buck was kind of, like, shocked that he reached out. Why wouldn’t he reach out? He’s looking from outside the bubble wanting to be in the bubble. I don’t have time for that, man. That’s weak. He just needs to focus on his record and his record is not doing too well, so I don’t even want to comment on that guy. And when I first made the comment telling him to do it, it is what it is, man. But I just saw him on another magazine with a pistol to his chin.
Tony Yayo: It’s funny. What kind of message are you passing? Let me tell you something. You know what kills me about the media? You wanna know? This is the most media Buck or Game ever got in their fucking life. Why? Because they’re going against 50 and G-Unit, the No. 1 rap group in the country. It’s nothing to me. I just know what it is. Dudes are doing this for publicity, man, because there’s no way…When you’re with the Unit, you get good publicity. When you go against the Unit, you get even better publicity. Now let me ask you a question. If I were to flip on 50 and Banks tomorrow, how many dot com’s and media people do you think would be calling me? How many people would be calling Tony Yayo?
Tony Yayo: Yeah, because people would be more interested in seeing one of 50’s right-hand men not messing with him no more than reading a regular G-Unit story. So it’s more publicity for Buck in my eyes. But we have to concentrate on G-Unit. He’s going to regret that he left us when we’re touring for this album. And with the Game, we don’t like to talk about him because his whole thing is us. We get the XXL cover and then the next one is Game. Why? So he can respond to what we say. So it’s not like he’s making good music. His whole thing is trying to get against us.
Have you guys had any contact with Young Buck since he got kicked out of G-Unit?
Lloyd Banks: Nope.
Tony Yayo: No.
Did it change the current dynamic of the group when he left?
Lloyd Banks: The dynamic of the group exists before him and with him. When Yayo left, Beg for Mercy Yayo wasn’t really present on that album and Buck isn’t really present on this album.
Tony Yayo: He’s still on three or four records.
Lloyd Banks: We grew up together. If I’m in Queens, Yayo is in Africa and 50 is in New Zealand, we’re all gonna find out who got shot, how they got shot, who got locked up and why they got locked up and the hot shit in the ‘hood. We’re all going to know the same thing because we associate with the same people, so we’re always on the same page.
Tony Yayo: And Buck wasn’t around for 50 Cent is the Future. Buck wasn’t around for No Mercy No Fear. Buck wasn’t around for God’s Plan. Buck wasn’t around for Semi-Automatic Gunfire. That’s four CDs and then we went on to Bulletproof and Money in the Bank and the Sopranos CD and others that I wasn’t there for. But the first CD to come out when we took over the mixtape game and nobody had ever done it like that was 50 Cent is the Future. Then it was No Mercy No Fear. Then it was God’s Plan. We was getting spins on the radio with a fucking mixtape. And then it was Semi-Automatic Gunfire where we destroyed Ja Rule’s career and everybody else that was around him. Dudes gotta remember that. And then Buck got in the picture and he got on Beg for Mercy and he did his album. My whole thing is he should have been a little more appreciative towards the Unit.
Do you guys plan on trying to end anyone else’s careers in the near future?
Tony Yayo: We just put Fat Joe in the cemetery. He did, like, two weeks on the Soundscan. As a matter of fact, pick up T.O.S. and you’ll see the next rapper that’s going to be in the rap cemetery or the rap retirement home or whatever you want to call it.
What did you guys think of Nas saying in King that he doesn’t understand what 50 is doing?
Lloyd Banks: I don’t think he really understands what he’s doing. We’re really not zeroing in or paying attention to what Nas or anybody else thinks. He’s an artist and he needs to think about what he’s doing for his project.
Tony Yayo: Exactly.
Lloyd Banks: They’re not friends. They don’t interact or things of that nature, so his opinion is just what it is, it’s an opinion.
Have you guys been working on solo albums?
Tony Yayo: We’re working, man. Banks has over 100 records and I got over 60. T.O.S. is coming on July 1st. It’s going down!
With all of 50 Cent’s business deals, does that motivate you guys to make more money outside of rap?
Tony Yayo: Of course!
Lloyd Banks: I actually released a film called Groupie Love with my production company and I actually received two awards at the AVN Awards, Best Interactive DVD and Best Music on a DVD. In the time I had away from rap it was a time away from everything. You can expect a couple of adult films to be released this year, including the Kama Sutra tape. It’s kind of educational. (Yayo laughs) And I’m working on the Magic Stick Condoms and the safe sex campaign at the same time also.
Tony Yayo: Right now I’m about to take acting classes. I’m about to be doing some movies. I was on set with 50 when he did Righteous Kill with Al Pacino and Deniro and everybody else. It was just crazy being on set. I want to further my acting career so I’m taking acting classes right now and doing a couple of other things.