Lloyd Banks recently claimed gold when his independent top 20 hit, "Beamer, Benz or Bentley," sold 523,000 digital copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And what better way to find out the news than through a good, old-fashioned prank staged by two hip-hop heavyweights?
"Did you say something to somebody about not wanting [Eminem] on the record?" a serious 50 Cent asks. "He's the biggest rapper -- you can't get anything bigger." Before a dumbfounded Banks can state his case, Eminem jumps out of his seat with a plaque in his hands, saying, "Well, maybe this is pretty big right here...We want to tell you we're fucking proud of you!"
Video: Lloyd Banks Pranked by 50 Cent, Eminem
"Jesus," Banks replies as 50 Cent cackles. "Yeah, y'all got me good with that one."
Before the unexpected success of "Beamer," 50 Cent's G-Unit label was in the midst of signing a new distribution deal with EMI Label Services after its Interscope Records contract had ended. Now Banks is getting ready to release his long-awaited third studio album on G-Unit, due Nov. 23.
"The transition between labels gave me a lane to work by myself...to create freely," says the 28-year-old rapper, born Christopher Lloyde. "That's when I said, 'I'm going to release 'Beamer, Benz or Bentley.' The reaction to that track has changed everything. Up until that point, I wasn't thinking about an album. I was just thinking, 'Let me get the respect from my fans.' "
And respect he got. Released independently by Banks while G-Unit was in flux, "Beamer" (featuring Juelz Santana) not only went gold. It also rose to No. 19 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and to No. 14 on R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs.
Banks recently released the star-studded follow-up, "Start It Up." Featuring Kanye West, Ryan Leslie, Fabolous and Swizz Beatz, the track was produced by newcomer Cardiak. Additionally, Akon and Banks' G-Unit brethren 50 Cent -- who's said to be recording a new album as well -- and Tony Yayo are set to appear on "The Hunger for More 2." Banks' previous albums, 2004's "The Hunger for More" and 2006's "Rotten Apple," have sold 1.5 million and 351,000 units, respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"The 'Hunger for More' idea came from a book that tells a story about robbing a bank," Banks says, "and I'm basically taking what's mine. That's the statement I'm trying to make -- I'm hungrier than before, and this time I'm taking everything."