“I’d rather die enormous than live dormant, that’s how we on it” -Jay-Z “Can I Live”
The sentiment captured by Hov is prevalent on the streets of New York, where anonymity is equated with nothing and relegated to a fate worse than death. To be somebody when you come from nothing fuels the hunger for more of those that stop at nothing. Lloyd Banks had that hunger, but even after satisfying that hunger he remains ravenous. This mindset runs amok on The Hunger For More 2 where money cars and status are the ultimate goal. Luckily for Banks, his production and a new crop of guests have enough collective talent to bring a fresh feel to an old idea.
A familiar face returns to the scene of the crime as Tony Yayo features on “Scene of the Crime.” Banks says “I’d rather be not here than hungry” giving u exactly what he feels about the regular life. Banks is taking rappers to task and keeping the hood on edge with his antics while Yayo shows growth lyrically pitching in the projects like Sandy Koufax and staying on topic with his narrative. Styles P drops by for that drug rap on “Unexplainable” with a dithering organ in the background and a deep key piano for malevolence. Style’s voice adds a freshness to the G-Unit aesthetic.
While he doesn’t give a verse, 50 lends a hand on the hook for the “Cake” like piano-pushed heater “Payback.” The melancholic “Home Sweet Home” concerns itself with the ramifications of that street life. Eventually you face jail and when you come home do you go back to the block or can you resist the pull of the hunger for more? Pusha T gives you his answer and as you could expect, nothing moves but the money.
“Beamer Benz or Bentley” has already carved out its legend in whips and clubs; spawning multiple remixes and moving many units. It’s minimalist bang is the perfect backdrop for verbal gymnatics and head knocking. The Ryan Leslie crooned “So Forgetful” is the first break in hood aesthetic and while the mood change is welcome, the feel is not in line with the overall theme.
“Father Time” re-centers the album with a mid tempo drum and digital flute with a soft string that runs as undercurrent against an orchestral backdrop. The new jacks want Banks out so they can have their shot but he’s not laying his mic down any time soon. Kanye and Fabolous steal the show on the rousing street anthem “Start It Up,” with their wordplay and deliveries. Swizz Beatz provides his usual DJ Hype on the hook and an unfortunately weak but thankfully short verse.
At this point, any song with Akon sounds like it should have come out in 2007-8 and “Celebrity” is no exception. Keep your ass at arms length and the flashing lights bring the pressure to live up to the rap persona. The hood expects you to shine but also makes you a target while you just want to make your paper and be out. Something’s got to give. “On The Double” is Banks’ high powered ode to excess. Bumping drums and snapping snares are driven by synth as Banks is doing everything double from cars to women.
“Any Girl,” featuring Lloyd is more successful in its pop reach; pairing Banks with another unexpected artist associated with past beef. Apparently hunger makes strange bedfellows. The repentant “I Don’t Deserve You” finds Banks taking collateral damage in his war for more, namely his heart, as he let’s his love walk away. Jeremih delivers a strong performance on the hook and delivers the best non Hip-Hop performance on the album.
The album closes on a high with the somber, Raekwon featured “Sooner or Later” amid soul organs and bass and military drum. The track speaks to the inevitability of trying to satisfy that hunger for more. Raekwon bodies the guest spot as usual and they close the album on the appropriate note.
The latest in a slew of part 2’s, The Hunger For More 2 is well put together with dope performances and a stellar cast. Banks shows that he can still deliver when possessed by the hunger for more.
Out of 5
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