When you hear talk of the Southside, you hear talk of the team. The Southside we're referring to is that of Jamaica, Queens in New York City and that team is G-Unit, arguably the most popular rap crew of the 2000s. After enduring a period of internal conflict, the crew is back together, with original members 50 Cent, Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks and southern delegates Young Buck and Kidd Kidd forming like Voltron. After they surprised the masses by performing at Hot 97's Summer Jam concert in June 2014, fans didn't have to rely on old mixtapes and T.O.S.album cuts any longer -- new music was on the way.
The reunion led to the release of an EP, The Beauty of Independence, which was well-received by critics and fans alike for its gritty sound and showed a return to form for all parties involved. Tracks like "Digital Scale" and "Changes" contained the vibe and feel of the classics we fell in love with during the group's glory years. Between the EP and their relentless touring schedule, it was clear that the Unit was back in full effect and looking to reclaim their spot as one of the more buzz-worthy brands in rap.
Looking to build on that momentum, G-Unit recently unleashed another EP, The Beast Is G-Unit. The effort runs six tracks deep and is filled with the same level of menacing gun talk as their previous release. The Beast proves The Beauty was no fluke and the reunion is no publicity stunt. We caught up with G-Unit inside The Boombox office in New York City -- Banks, Buck and Yayo were present -- to get the scoop on the making of the new EP, their mindset when it comes to production and what's next for the crew.
"Ballin'"Produced by MistrAdams
"I brung that beat to Fif; me and him worked that together. So it was just, like, it was organic, when you get with these guys, like you know. Banks is the type to leave, he's gonna come back with three songs -- go to his room, three or four songs -- and they're all crazy. Buck is the type that he be in the studio all night, he might be in the studio 'til four in the morning. You might catch him 9 o'clock, then he'll leave, then you might catch Buck two, three, four in the morning, you don't know what he's doing in the mansion.
And then Kidd Kidd, he's just a dude that he's just so excited, like, the energy, you know -- that first time around energy. So he just be in the studio all day. Same thing as Buck. So with that process, me, I just run around the house and see when everybody's in the studio and everybody's there or sometimes by myself, it's that energy. That was just a joint that I brought to the table."
"I'm Grown"Produced by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E.
"I brought 'I'm Grown' to the table and I think Banks brought that record to light, though. I had played around with the hook and then 50 had changed some things around and then I think Banks was the one who just really went crazy. Then we was like, 'Okay, we all gotta get it together [laughs].' But a lot of the records is always a collective issue as far as who brings the records; it be different ones of us, but it turns into a collective thing when the record is found.
C.N.O.T.E. [produced 'I'm Grown'. Honorable C.N.O.T.E., shout out to C.N.O.T.E.. You know, honestly I had just met C.N.O.T.E. in Atlanta, [I] had been recording up there. You know what, before I had actually met C.N.O.T.E., Kidd Kidd had played records [from C.N.O.T.E.]. Kidd Kidd actually was the one who played the beats from that guy 'cause I think C.N.O.T.E. had produced some previous music for Kidd Kidd. And I heard the beat when Kidd Kidd was playing it and I was like 'I'ma jump on it.' And we was up at 50 house at the time, so [claps hands], that's how that happened."
"Bring My Bottles"Produced by Swiff D
"I don't even remember, I think Fif brought that beat, to be honest, if I'm not mistaken."
"If you look at G-Unit's history from the beginning, like my first album, Thoughts of a Predicate Felon, I had Domingo. Domingo worked with KRS-One, way back. A lot of people don't know that. And then another record I did was with Punch, he did 'So Seductive.' So it's like with G-Unit, I don't think we ever look for a big name producer. Of course, we respect the Swizz Beatz and all the big Timbalands, the Dres and Ems, but I don't think we always look for a name."
"If you go through any G-Unit albums, them lists, like we all have production from guys in the basement or [a big name], it's scattered, it could be anybody. You could have a beat in your pocket and if it sounds dope, we're gonna run with it."
"Doper Than My Last One"Produced by Ky Miller
"It's crazy, I actually had that record for a few months and it was a situation where I had The Cold Corner, I was working on that, but it just made sense to keep things in order the way they were working because we planned this since June, since Summer Jam. The first conversation we had, this whole concept was there, so I wanted to make sure I got that just to keep the confusion from anything.
And then the dope thing about 'Doper Than My Last One,' it's kind of a segue into my next project, 'cause you hear the elements -- you hear the boom-bap and the DJ scratching and things like that that just remind you of early-mid '90s hip-hop. And being that we had a few club records -- the 'Ballin'' record is kinda bouncy [and] 'Bring My Bottles' record is in the club. I just wanted to give 'em something that was more, you know, just more about the bars.
My next project is kinda geared that way. It's not a lot of club s--- on that one so that was like the perfect record. I'm just excited to see how the DJs embrace it because it's adding what they bring to hip-hop in there. It's only a few records, you know, Jay Z used to use scratches a lot because he had Premier and stuff like that."
"Boy Boy"Produced by !llmind, G-Koop & Jake One
"I picked that beat, too. I mean, I feel like I'm hungry, man. When you hear the lines on there, that beat; Illmind, he just got a different kinda flow, so when I heard the beat, it just sounded like some old '90s kinda flow on there. And I just got on there and he [nods to Banks] wrote the hook. Young Buck got on there and Kidd Kidd spanked it, but I had fun with that one right there.
I think My favorite line is when I said, 'My money up when the mils come / I'm L.A. Reid with the dope, son / I'm Jimmy Iovine with the coke, son / Watch time fly by, now I'm an O.G. / Bad bitch with double Ds, n---- Jordan couldn't palm these / Feel the breeze.' So it's just like now, being around Banks and Kidd Kidd and Buck and 50, you just get that energy. And then you got Banks, he's just lyrical, he's Top 5 dead or alive, P.L.K. [Punch Line King], I just like to come with my line and take my time.
Like, we was just listening to some old G-Unit stuff and that gets me excited too when I listen to that and old school hip-hop. Cause we was Big Daddy Kane'd in the car yesterday, he was taking me there [laughs]. I feel hip-hop got a lil soft a lil bit, but now, with the Unit coming with this music like Cold Corner, I heard that, that's dope. When I listened to that kind of music, like when I listen to Cold Corner 3. it makes mew wanna go back to the drawing board 'cause it's a dope project.
Or when I hear Buck, he just did a joint with Troy Ave and Fif, it just makes me want to go in the studio and go crazy. I'm 'bout to really, really put my foot on the gas real soon. We just waiting for Cold Corner 3 to get out the way cause they screaming for it crazy. I'm back to that 'going hand-to-hand like the real Roxanne,' you just feel the hungry flow.
And Blue [Banks], man, when he play music in the car, it just be like, 'Damn, I gotta get to work. man.' And when I'm around these guys in the studio, you know what I'm saying, it's like, you wanna say the dopest line, 'cause they wanna say the dopest line."
"Choose One"Produced by Ky Miller
"Everybody was sleep and I had to get up on one of my late-night missions, you know what I'm saying [laughs]. And when they woke up, I'm like, 'I did this record, check it.' They heard it and somehow it made the pick. A lot of records just didn't make the pick. We got so many records between me, Yayo and Banks."
"To me these two CDs [The Beauty of Independence and The Beast Is G-Unit] were just the appetizers. Like, Banks brung three records in one night that I feel like if we drop a G-Unit album anytime soon, that should set it off. It's 'Purge.' One is called 'Bulletproof Plan,' one is 'E. Beasley,' and it was one more. Them s---s was just, like, crazy. It was just that G-Unit Beg For Mercy feel. And we got plenty more. When these guys get in the studio, it's like a movie, man."