V6:The Gift mixtape review
The problem with Lloyd Banks mixtapes is not simply a problem of misogyny. Lloyd Banks might have a very balanced and favorable view of the opposite sex. He certainly does not have one in regards to groupies. If you listen to early Banks verses on G-Unit tracks they were winks and blown kisses to the ladies surrounding the tour bus. He was proud to have groupies and enjoy them, it wasn’t to last. For the last few years his mixtapes end up breaking into two halves: the exciting NY hardcore first half that makes you think Lloyd Banks could be a one man Mobb Deep, and a second half full of semi-hateful bragging/mocking groupie songs. Songs like “No Love”from Cold Corner 2 are jammed with insulting sexual innuendo that contradict and worst of all bore the socks off anyone with any experience listening to rap.
I was bracing myself all the way through the first half of V6: The Gift. Sure his chorus’s are significantly better on V6. He whispers intimidation on the hook for “Protocol”, absolutely kills his off beat nasally sung chorus on “Open Arms.” Lyrically he throws out just as many amusing sex metaphors as Fabolous on “Bring it Back.” It was at song nine “Chosen Few” when I began to wonder if this was going to be his complete project. Banks gets surprisingly contemplative on the track “I lost my pops October, it made me colder, no longer able to stand shoulder to shoulder you know when its over no rewind, no controller no degree no diploma just the heart of a soldier.” He’s so good he pushes Jadakiss to follow his verse with something as poignant (Jadakiss steps up per usual).
The mixtape is only 15 tracks and even if he bombed the last five with I-HATE-YOU-but-I-ball-so-hard-it-don’t-matter tracks…its still a solid tape. Mp3 players were made to amputate bad songs from great projects. “Getting By” is a strange attempt at a drug inebriation song which works because it features Schoolboy Q who is literally the KING of this genre. Q owns the track with personality while Banks wanders but still no signs of things coming apart. On “Live It Up” the tempo feels more like the first half with air horns and flat line sound effects playing backup to that thick boom bap. He did start to hint at my fears, “I’m laughing hard at these chicks that think they getting close to me, NO.” He did not give in completely and brought himself back to a very motivational money based chorus. “Money Don’t Matter” is track 12 and felt like the beginning of the end. Horrible R&B chorus—check. Annoying flow change—check. Bad bitter sex jokes—check. Boring derivative beat—check.
The Jerm saved a beautiful tonal masterpiece of a beat for track 13 “Hate You More” and Banks jumped it with pure unfettered distaste “These hating B_s wasn’t hating when I told you bring em through now they sneaking email and calling, texting. Stuck my dick in every city but I always figured you stuck around when I got hot cause you were there when I was cool.”Part of the problem with his relationship to groupies was the half ass process of him hating them while pretending they didn’t matter. Every guy has a friend like this who drops the “I don’t care about that B__”rant that you nod at and dismiss. Its ok to care, its ok to confess, Banks finally admits that he hates and hates more than we imagined using his full lyrically dexterity to explain himself. Even if it’s not the truth it feels like the most truthful moment on a mixtape filled with pockets of introspective clarity.
V6: The Gift is not the best mixtape of the year, on the track Banks sounds fantastic but on paper his lyrics still read like well executed word associate. We all know the limitations of being “Punch Line King”but he added a smog filled cloud to his boom bap on V6 and it works quite well. Clouding up his sound allowed his brooding to get darker and blunter. This is the best mixtape he’s ever put out, and for my money its better than anything 50 Cent has put out this year.
V6 can be streamed or downloaded below