Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
8/3/2004 7:24:50 AM
Tags and topics realted to this article include G-Unit.
When 50 Cent was riding the wave of his explosive debut last year, Get Rich or Die Tryin', he was never seen without his G-Unit group, which included Lloyd Banks, Young Buck and Tony Yayo. But they weren't there just to be part of the typical rapper's entourage; they were in training for their own turns in the spotlight.
G-Unit's members, signed to 50 Cent's G-Unit label, are rapidly becoming hip-hop's most potent crew. They are not the first rapper's crew to spin off soloists — Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Ludacris and others have tried — but few had G-Unit's success.
• Last fall's G-Unit album, Beg for Mercy, sold 2.3 million.
• Banks' The Hunger for More album entered the Billboard chart at No. 1 three weeks ago, selling 433,000 copies. It has sold nearly 800,000 copies so far, propelled by the Eminem-produced single On Fire.
• Young Buck's hit Let Me In is building expectation for his Straight Outta Cashville album, whose release has been moved up two weeks to Aug. 17.
Their appearances with 50 Cent in concert, on record and in nine hit videos gave them exposure, but their own talent, resulting in albums that have been critically well-received, has made the difference.
"I'm not with 50 Cent because I'm his homeboy; I'm there because of the talent," says Banks, who, like his mentor, hails from Queens. "He gave me the perfect setup to market myself. A lot of other artists are content with being in somebody's shadow. But I don't like to take leftovers."
Nashville's Young Buck (David Brown) adds, "We were all signed to G-Unit as individual artists, and with the success of Beg for Mercy, people got to see our talent and anticipate a solo release on everybody."
Banks likens the work they put in last year to boot camp; they learned the ropes while building their followings.
Young Buck came into the G-Unit fold a couple of years ago, just before 50 Cent hit big. In New York with Juvenile, he played a track for Banks that would end up as Blood Hound on Get Rich or Die Tryin'.
"Here I was a nobody; for (50) to take my material was really something," he says.
Buck's album, which will include the DVD G-Unit Collector's Edition Vol. 2, with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, has created an underground buzz with the song Stomp. It features rival rappers T.I. and Ludacris trading barbs with each other.
G-Unit seems set up to assault the charts for months to come. New signee Game, 21, a native of Compton, Calif., has an album scheduled for October; then 50 Cent returns with his sophomore album in February. Also next year is the debut of Yayo, who has been in and out of jail on various charges during G-Unit's rise.
Buck says working with 50 Cent and being associated with Dr. Dre and Eminem raises the bar for what is acceptable: "Just platinum isn't good enough."
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