Nothing New Under the Sun

Rotten Apple (Interscope Records)
Lloyd Banks

By Kory Wilcoxson

If a rapper reps G-Unit, you know what to expect: club-ready tracks, plenty of gun references and claims to the rap throne and multiple appearances by 50 Cent, the poster boy for G-Unit. Lloyd Banks (the name sounds more like my accountant than a rapper) has the formula down perfectly, but because of this "Rotten Apple" comes across as formulaic.

Banks is a better-than-average rapper, but he plays it safe in his lyrics instead of trying to stand out. While his first album featured several clever rhymes, the best he can do here is "I wouldn't buy a chick a pump if she had asthma." The beats are annoyingly inconsistent; the bass on "Hands Up" is as infectious as the cheap siren on "Playboy 2" is grating.

Still, there's a lot to like here. Banks makes the most of his verbal skills on "The Cake," and 50 Cent's contribution to the title track lifts it above the rest. But Banks simply doesn't have enough charisma to carry 16 tracks and the album wears thin long before it ends.

G-Unit would be best served looking for rappers who can break the mold, instead of those who fit it. While Banks is by no means an amateur, he also is too much of a team player to make Rotten Apple anything more than another standard G-Unit offering.

Dig in at www.g-unitsoldier.com.