Lloyd Banks

Lloyd Banks is garnering the kind of acclaim Jadakiss earned back in the late Nineties for the same reasons: a series of high-profile mixtapes, an allegiance with a superstar rap crew (50 Cent’s platinum-certified G-Unit), and a distinct voice that sounds cool and husky, expressing a surprising elegance. But he’s just as obsessed with hits as the next rapper, and has stocked his debut, The Hunger for More, with a disc full of potential ones. Some of them, such as “Warrior” or “If You So Gangsta,” hit the mark, smoothly blending dark, menacing beats with restrained cockiness. But there are more than a few misses, from the plodding opener “Ain’t No Click” to “Warrior Part 2,” an ineffective collaboration with Eminem, 50 Cent, and Nate Dogg.

Both The Hunger for More and Kiss of Death represent a decidedly uncomplicated approach to hit-making. They deal in stock themes, from party-rocking anthems (Banks’s “On Fire”) to groupie cuts (Kiss’s “Hot Sauce to Go”) and thug anthems. Unlike Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, there are no overarching concepts that lend them any sense of purpose beyond the pleasures of the rap life, however temporal or lasting. Each disc has its merits; either you like them, or you don’t. — Mosi Reeves