Lloyd Banks

Although he was too young to see his first influences, Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick, in their prime, Lloyd Banks did see a couple of concerts early on that had a considerable impact.

“The first concert I saw was 2Pac. It was in my neighborhood. It was actually like a school trip,” the rapper told Pollstar. “It was in a park and the environment didn’t seem too far away from home ’cause it was in my neighborhood.

“But the second one was in Nassau Coliseum (in Uniondale, N.Y.).”

That event, which featured Keith Sweat, Nas, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, was a life-changing moment.

“It was the night 2Pac died, and that’s probably why I’ll never forget that night. My mother took me to the concert. And I told her, ‘That’s gonna be me one day.’ And she looked at me like I was kind of crazy.

“But you know, what’s crazy is the first concert she ever came to see me at happened to be in that same building, at Summer Jam.”

Banks was performing with G-Unit, the group he formed with childhood friend Tony Yayo, the ubiquitous 50 Cent, and Southern newcomer Young Buck. The Summer Jam concert was part of a series of high-profile shows this year for Banks, who got his first taste of live performance a couple of years ago in Puerto Rico with 50 Cent in front of 5,000 people.

“I go back there annually and the last time I went back it was incredible to see the transition,” Banks said. “I remember when nobody knew who I was. Then, when I came back last time, it was a whole different situation. Everybody knew who I was.”

It isn’t hard to tell what made the difference. Banks has been putting in serious work for the last couple of years.

“The first real tour actually was a mixtape tour. We went everywhere; that’s how powerful the mixtape scene was at that time. We stormed on it. And people knew me all over the world. When I went to Japan with Eminem, and Barcelona, people knew me out there. It was because of the mixtapes.”

However, Banks’ first solo tour

which has been selling out theatres and clubs on both coasts and heads to the Midwest in November

has been a whole new experience.

“I went through the mixtape tours, I went on the Roc The Mic tour, I’ve been on the Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ tour (50 Cent), the Beg For Mercy tour (G-Unit), the Anger Management tour (Eminem), so I’ve been on around six different tours. But this is the first one by myself and it’s amazing to see the fans turn out for you. It’s crazy, man.”

Rather than take an entire posse of performers, he’s going it alone, old-school style, with only DJ Whookid sharing the stage.

Lloyd Banks

“I do a solo show. I’m tryin’ to be like the ol’ LL Cool J; do it by myself.”

He’s played a show nearly every day since late September, but the 22-year-old rapper is in no mood for a break.

“I don’t really want to go home. This is not only my job, this is what I do. This is my hobby.

“My whole life we’ve been tryin’ to get out and just see things. Just to be on the road, it makes me feel like I’m alive. Being able to get out there and perform in front of these people who buy my CD, it’s a whole other feeling.

“And to be able to leave with that impression that they’re gonna go home and talk about your show for the next two weeks … that’s what it’s about.

“I don’t need to go home. I know what’s there.”

Working with agents Jeremiah “Ice” Younossi and Mike Lighty at Emmel Communications was a given from the start; Banks has been a part of the family since Emmel signed 50 Cent and G-Unit.

“Basically, we all have the same circle,” Banks said. “It doesn’t make sense to handle your business outside of the family when it’s handled correctly the way it is. If it ain’t broke, I ain’t tryin’ to fix it.”

Younossi told Pollstar that Banks’ energetic attitude is no joke.

“He wants to stay on the road, he wants to stay in the studio,” Younossi said. “He records while he’s on the road. He just writes and when he gets a day off here and there, he’ll start recording.”

Both Younossi and Lighty spoke of Banks’ surprisingly well-developed stage presence.

“His body language when he’s onstage is incredible,” Younossi said. “He really gets into it. He addresses the crowd, tells them a bit about the music. He gets down, man.”

“Of course, he has great material, as well,” Lighty told Pollstar. “His album’s doing great right now

opened No. 1 its first week

so that was also an advantage.

“But he’s surprising people with his stage presence, and how he’s able to control the crowd out there,” Lighty added. “I don’t think people really thought there’d be another 50. And now there’s a Young Buck and a Lloyd Banks out there. It’s like little 50s running around.”