The life of New York rapper Lloyd Banks has provided plenty of fodder for the tabloids.
During the past two years alone, the 24-year-old has hit the headlines because of gun charges (they were dropped), a rumoured gay sex video (it wasn't him), and a strange tale about the fate of what was to be his second album.
Banks was said to have left the final tape of the album on the floor of a woman's house after an afternoon of fun - with her and a close friend. The woman gave the music to a DJ. The newspapers had a field day. That Banks also survived being shot twice in 2001 adds to his image.
But the tawdry headlines tell only part of the tale. His debut, Hunger for More, sold more than 2.3 million copies, lifted by the success of the single On Fire, which featured long-time friend 50 cent. His work with G Unit - again alongside 50 Cent, among others - has redefined gangsta rap. 'Everybody thinks it's not hard,' he told UnderGround-Online recently. 'It's a grind. I stay in the studio. I don't just sit back. I don't want a good project. I want a great project.'
After the missing tape incident, Banks went back to the studio and produced Rotten Apple. He then released No1 hit Touch It, which featured Busta Rhymes, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott.
'Nowadays, my passion is going to different levels in hip hop, and the next place for me is producing and doing beats,' he told UnderGroundOnline.
Banks grew up in New York's South Jamaica district and left school at 16 to concentrate on his rhymes. He has been counting the hits - and the cash - ever since.
'I feel like I've made it already, because I got already what everybody on the corners of the neighbourhood I grew up in is striving to get,' he says. 'Anything that happens after this is just me progressing as a person.'
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