I Ate a Steak Dinner with G-Unit
I was eight when 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying came out and G-Unit’s reign over hip-hop began. 50 and his cohorts—Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo—helped bring the streets back to hip-hop at a time when MCs like Ja Rule had resorted to crooning over R&B tracks to climb the pop charts. In the early to mid-2000s, my world was consumed by all things Guerilla Unit. I followed them as they released their double platinum group album—Beg for Mercy, a slew of classic solo mixtapes and albums, a practically unplayable video game, and a seminal clothing line with Marc Ecko.
But it’s been more than a decade since 50 Cent was hip-hop’s dictator and G-Unit served as his ruling party. In recent years, members of G-Unit have had run-ins with the law and have either faced middling record sales or released no new music of note at all. The group has also suffered its share of infighting, with 50 excommunicating Young Buck in 2008 and clowning founding G-Unit members Yayo and Banks in interviews as recent as spring of last year. In light of all the barbs tossed back and forth and the group’s dwindling relevancy, it seemed like we’d never get another track like “Poppin’ Them Thangs” or another chance to buy one of those weirdly-cut G-Unit tank tops.
However, the core group surprised everyone and reunited at Hot 97’s Summer Jam concert last June. Since then, they’ve added a new member to the fold named Kidd Kidd. They released a mixtape in August titled The Beauty of Independence. And earlier this month they dropped The Beast Is G-Unit EP, which was gritty and hungry enough to conjure up memories of what made G-Unit indomitable back in 2003.
Considering we’re in the midst of a full blown G-Unit a comeback, it seemed like the perfect time to hit up Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo for a chat. I met the G-Unit rappers at the New York Yankee Steakhouse in Midtown. In between eating extravagant steak and seafood and fans interrupting our meal to get pictures, we had an incredible conversation that explored their journey to and from the highest echelons of hip-hop and the trials and tribulations that came with it. Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo were especially unguarded. They spoke with an openness that was cognizant of their former glory and their mortality. Here’s what they had to say.