Looking back at Lloyd Banks’ discography, it reads sort of like the resumé of a television producer. Albeit, one with his hand in creating many different shows (some successful, most not so much) and being involved in their subsequent seasons up to their cancellations. For Banks, his officially began with “The Hunger For More” series in 2004, and a few anthology miniseries along the way such as “Mo’ Money in the Bank”, “5 and Better”, “The Cold Corner”, and “A.O.N. (All or Nothing).” Breaking away from G-Unit and the confines of major labels was both a blessing a curse for Banks and his output. On one hand, he no longer has the budget for big-name productions that being signed to a major label would ordinarily entail. On the other hand, all of his product belongs to him now. On that note, bringing his music to EMPIRE has allowed Mr. Banks to find a new musical niche for himself through his “The Course of the Inevitable” series.
The third installment since the pilot was distributed in 2021, “The Course of the Inevitable 3: Pieces of My Pain” once again displays Banks as a New York City emcee who’s mostly shed his bad boy street gangsta d-boy image and the excess attention that comes with it. He can still spit braggadocious, but his punchline-filled go-to Tommy gun of old is mostly retired. “COTI 3” is once again helmed by Long Island producer CartuneBeatz, producing seven of the sixteen tracks, though his don’t make an appearance until nearly halfway into the album. With the “COTI” series, Banks has gone beyond the one-dimensionality of his early career and challenged himself to do better.
Banks wastes no time and immediately drops a verse beginning with the title-track opener, and its piano-driven music courtesy of George Getson. With this track, he sums up his ambition via the line “Heard that third time is the charm, here’s the pieces of my pain.” Meanwhile, on the Haas Almahdi-produced “Onyx AMG”, Banks raps on the come-up that got him to where he is now. Both producer and emcee continue that theme on “Money Machine” until the transition to the more low-key “Cliffhanger”, where Banks is in a paranoid mindstate with bars like “Rather not socialize, why? Too many social lies / Easy to stay alive with closed lids, figured I opened eyes.” The atmospheric “Movie Scenes” has a nocturnal ‘80s synth feel and Banks flows nicely to its beat, “Opened Gates” is the first appearance of CartuneBeatz feels like the first actual song on the record, a testament to their chemistry. But both the first guest and single consist of Method Man on “101 Razors.” While the production should’ve been something grimy, it shows that while Banks is good lyrically, Meth is great at it:
Showing his variation in beats, CartuneBeatz creates a boom-bap production on “LSD” with Vado providing an assist before moving onto the head-nodding introspection on “Voices.” Tony Yayo and 38 Spesh lend their voices for the street narratives on “Red Alert”, and Banks takes it solo again on “Key to Success”, where he takes a fun double-time flow for the first verse. The posse cut “Automatic Pilot” utilizes the metaphor of a plane flight for success as Banks describes himself, Vado, and Dave East in terms of “They raised me better, look around, grown men behave in Bessy / Me, V and East is De Niro, Pacino, Pesci.” On “Invisible”, Banks stresses the importance of being successful in his game as there’s “no country for old men” and then shows a vulnerable girl-dad side with “Daddy’s Little Girl”. At this point, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a compilation album for all the “daddy-daughter” rap songs out there because there are many.
The final two tracks are “Showers”, a soulful rumination on the brevity of life; and “Deceitful Intentions” which features fellow Queens emcee Cormega and rap about the notion of “forgetting vs forgiving” before the album closes. With “The Course of the Inevitable” series, Banks has sparked something which won’t, pardon the pun, inevitably run its course any time soon. Though the second installment is my favorite of the bunch, “COTI 3” shows further flashes of growth.