Lloyd Banks Forgotten Apple
Updated: Jan 14
For those who don't know by now, Lloyd Banks retired from hip-hop in March 2018. The former G-Unit rapper felt it was time for him to throw in the towel to what he fell in love with 27 years ago while a fan asked him on twitter the year after if he could bless his fans with one last album and Banks replied by saying, no one is checking on him anymore. Banks did bless us in 2004 with his first album The Hunger For More in 2004 which was a commercial success but what about his other albums and mixtapes? Except for his die-hard fans, I feel that Lloyd Banks discography and career are rarely discussed in hip-hop debates, which is why for this throwback review, I decided to review Banks second album Rotten Apple which was released on October 10th, 2006 under G-Unit and Interscope records. Also, the album was originally named The Big Withdrawal and it was done in 2005 but the album got leaked because Lloyd Banks left an unmastered copy in the home of two ladies where Banks had a menage a trois with. This led Banks to scrapped the album and he began to start working on Rotten Apple. The album features 50 Cent, Mobb Deep, Tony Yayo, Rakim, Young Buck, Keri Hilson, Scarface and, others.
Rotten Apple starts with the track "Rotten Apple" featuring 50 Cent and Prodigy where all 3 NY emcees delivered solid verses but I have to give Banks the best verse because I felt his rhymes and his flow were better than 50 and P. With the production of Havoc and Sha Money XL on this song, it makes the album starts raw, gutter and mean with that G-Unit vibe, RIP Prodigy! The raw feel on the album continues in the next song called "Survival" where Banks raps about surviving in the streets of New York and I like how the instrumental is gangster and Lloyd Banks still keeps his voice and his flow smooth while rapping. Also, his lyrics were more than on point in this song with bars like "I ain't even got a license yet and got 7 cars, yep; TV the same size as Kevin Garnett; A brand new buzz, Mac 10 and a chopper; White fan base cause Eminem is my partner." Then we have the song "Playboy 2" which is a follow up to the song "Playboy" from Banks previous album The Hunger For More, and then we have the following song "Cake" featuring 50 Cent where Cake in this song stands for money and both rappers explain in the song different ways and situations of getting money. The next song is "Make A Move" and Lloyd Banks way of rapping is good with his lyrical abilities but the production of the song makes it sound cheap which ruins the song, and even with the two previous songs, I wish that Banks or whoever that was in charge in executive decisions regarding the picking of the songs would have told the producers to do better because they sounded more like mixtape materials than an album material and I feel it overshadowed Banks lyrical skills. Then we have the first single from the album, "Hands Up" featuring 50 Cent and produced by Eminem. If I compared this song to Banks first single from The Hunger For More, "On Fire" which was also produced by Eminem and features 50 Cent, well there is no comparison because "On Fire" was 100% a banger while "Hands Up" feels like a poor attempt to be a hit. The song does have a club vibe but I honestly never felt the song when it came out in 2006.
"Help" features Keri Hilson and this is where Banks raps about keeping his gangsta persona aside for a girl he has a crush on and that he will do things to her that no other girls made him feel to do so. The song has a nice vibe, Banks smooth flow delivery and the beautiful voice of Keri Hilson on the hook makes the song enjoyable with a sample of "Top Billin'" by Audio Two and I wish the single had more mainstream exposure. Then we have "Addicted" featuring Musiq Soulchild where Banks raps about music being his drug addiction on this cool instrumental. On a grimy instrumental, "You Know The Deal" features the legendary Rakim and it's not anyone who can get the lyrical God on their songs, and Banks is one of those rappers who can hold his own on the mic but I wished Rakim had a verse on the song instead of a repeating hook. Overall, it's a very dope song. We have another grimy and gritter New York sound in the song "Get Clapped" featuring Mobb Deep followed by the two songs "Stranger" and "Change."
The track "NY NY" has a grimy and gritty New York sound produced by Eminem where Banks delivers his lyrical ability with the feature of Tony Yayo. Lloyd Banks raps a hip-hop ballad about getting down with a girl on the song "One Night Stand" featuring Keon Bryce and the song is followed by "Iceman" featuring Young Buck, Scarface, and 8Ball on a dirty south instrumental with all rappers being from the south except for Banks who's from New York. The album finishes with a crazy gangsta instrumental on the song "Gilmore's" and Lloyd Banks flow and punchlines were strong in this beat.
After 14 years since the release of Rotten Apple, do I felt like I slept on Banks album? Yes I did but it is not better than his 1st album The Hunger For More because it had better banger, the singles were better and the overall production and mainstream promotion was better. Now that doesn't mean that Rotten Apple is not a good album. The album could have used a better promotion and a better music production, and the hit single "Hand's Up" was just ok while the single "Help" should have better exposure. As for Banks, his smooth flow, his lyrics, and punchlines were on another level but they were overshadowed by the beat selection, and I feel Banks lyrical ability is underappreciated and not recognized in hip-hop. In the whole G-Unit faction, 50 Cent always had the best beats but Lloyd Banks was always steps ahead lyrically. I know the original Rotten Apple was leaked but the album songs felt more like mixtape materials than the quality of an album but the beats were still good. I can why the album did not do well mainstream wise because, during 2006, hip-hop was slowly getting detached from the gangsta image. Rotten Apple will be more appreciated by Lloyd Banks fans and fans of New York hip-hop.
Beat Instrumental: 3/5
Album Production: 2.5/5
Overall Score: 3/5