Lloyd Banks

Armed to the teeth, bloodthirsty, and more concerned with making profits than being prophets, the members of G-Unit sound like the perfect candidates to be delivering the keynote address at next month's Republican National Convention ("G-G-G-G.O.P.!"). Fortunately, Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, and (of course) 50 Cent harness their powers for more noble purposes, alternately flooding the streets with hardened gangster anthems and caressing the dance floor with the sort of emo-thug ballads that demonstrate they're hard but not too hard. On Banks' solo debut, he doesn't tinker with the formula. "Warrior" and "When the Chips Are Down" are hollow-tip bangers soaked in testosterone and blood, while "Karma" and "Till the End" ostensibly provide a glimpse into Banks' more sensitive side. Although the rapper's hooks aren't nearly as memorable as 50 Cent's, his wordplay and flow are among the best in the game. -- Sam Chennault

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