In a private room at the back of a fancy Beverly Hills restaurant, Michael McWhertor from Kotaku and I had a chance to sit down and talk with two members of G-Unit -- Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo -- about their roles in the upcoming Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 game 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.
The interview was amazing.
Not only are Banks and Yayo two of the coolest people on the planet (infinitely cooler than I will ever be), they are actually true, honest-to-God gamers. Seriously. They didn’t give the traditional “Oh, I am a celebrity and have played Halo and Madden a few times” kind of answers. These guys truly know their videogames.
In the interview they mention Final Fantasy, have a few choice things to say about how they feel about the Wii, reveal some surprising facts about what kind of games 50 Cent likes to play, and, man, so much more. I know I am the king of hyperbole, but this interview really is the best thing ever. You have to check it out.
Hit the jump to see me get to know G-Unit on a more personal level. Oh, shoot, they would hate it if I described our meeting like that. Let me try this again:
Hit the jump to check this sh*t out, bro.
Destructoid: What did you think of the first game, which you also starred in, 50 Cent: Bulletproof?
Lloyd Banks: Crazy. It was like the perfect gift. Everyone wanted it for Christmas. Even though we are in the game it’s still, you know what I mean, a struggle to get the game.
McWhertor: Did you guys beat it?
Lloyd Banks: I didn’t. [laughs]
Tony Yayo: I almost beat it. It’s crazy, cuz when Fiddy had a meeting about this game he was talking about doing more. Out here in L.A. He was talking about, like, doing more stuff. [50 Cent: Blood on the Sand] is way better because there is more stuff you can do. You know what I mean? You can be in a helicopter, you can be in a truck. There is different stuff you can do. I mean, one thing I like: the less graphics the more stuff you can do. I learned a lot more about videogames because me and Banks are videogame heads.
McWhertor: I heard you have been playing some Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.
Tony Yayo: Yeah, that is like my favorite game right now. Until [Blood on the Sand] comes out that is my favorite game.
Destructoid: Who do you play?
Tony Yayo: I play Superman. I know how to do his fatality. I mean, it’s a whole videogame world that a lot of people don’t know about.
McWhertor: Are you guys going to get paid in diamond encrusted skulls for this game or did you work out a deal to get cash?
Tony Yayo: [laughs]
Lloyd Banks: [laughs]
Tony Yayo: Fiddy will make sure we get paid.
McWhertor: I think one of the things people like about the sequel is that is it a lot more over the top -- a little more outlandish than the first.
Lloyd Banks: It’s crazy. You can either have a lot of graphics and no gameplay or really great gameplay and no graphics. That’s why games take two years to come out. They want you to get the best of both worlds. This game is so different from the first. Like Tony said, even the helicopter section threw me off. I was, like, woah!
Tony Yayo: [yelling at the game] Ah, come on!
Destructoid: Who came up with the concept to have the new game be set in the Middle East?
Tony Yayo: It’s like a blood in the diamond thing. Me, 50 Cent, and Banks sat down and, ya’ know, we figured out the ideas for it. It came out great. We give all the credit to the computer people. The people that made the game.
Destructoid: Are there any other stars in the game besides you guys?
Tony Yayo: We got D.J. Whoo Kid, me, Lloyd, and Fiddy.
Destructoid: Are Dre or Eminem coming back in this one? They were in the first game.
Tony Yayo: Um, I don’t think so. They were in the first one so we appreciate that. They busy, ya’ know.
Destructoid: No, of course. I was just curious.
Lloyd Banks: No, this is crazy, man. To see yourself in action in a videogame. Ya’ know. I played all different kinds of games growing up. Mainly sports games like 2K, Live, Madden. But early on it was, like, Final Fantasy. All the way up to … they probably at XVIII now, huh ? [laughs]
Destructoid: [laughs] They are almost there, actually.
Lloyd Banks: They have Halo and all these other games that come and sell out in the first day.
Destructoid: Well, Blood on the Sand should do pretty well. The first game sold amazing.
Lloyd Banks: I think this one is going to do good. I am starting to see trailers and stuff on the Internet. Ya’ know, they get you excited about the game.
McWhertor: Do you guys …
Lloyd Banks: And it’s a lot of work!
Lloyd Banks: People don’t know it’s a lot. Man, those voiceovers take, what, hours?
Tony Yayo: Man, you get stuck in that booth for, like, a day!
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, you just take pictures for hours. They got to get all kind of angles. You know what I mean? I guess it’s similar to, like, what the NBA players do when they are trying to capture all that stuff.
McWhertor: How long exactly did it take you to do the motion capture and voice recording for Blood on the Sand?
Tony Yayo: This game is crazy cuz it is one of the reasons Buck got kicked out of the group.
Destructoid: Wait, what? Are you serious?
Tony Yayo: Yeah. Right, man?
Lloyd Banks: Well.
Tony Yayo: Yeah, it was one of the reasons.
Lloyd Banks: He didn’t have a check coming.
Tony Yayo: He was supposed to be … one thing about Fiddy is, like, is he always makes sure that we at least there. I mean, we late sometimes, but we try to work with people. So, in this videogame Buck was supposed to actually be, ya’ know, in it … and he was supposed to come to Fiddy’s house cuz the guy was there to take pictures of us for the game and so what he needed to do. Instead of doing it, Buck just left.
Lloyd Banks: We was on a deadline.
Tony Yayo: So that was the reason he left.
Lloyd Banks: But it worked out for Whoo Kid! Now he’s in the game!
Tony Yayo: [laughs]
McWhertor: Keifer Sutherland was quoted at the VGAs saying he recorded almost 1600 lines for Call of Duty: World at War. Was your experience with Blood on the Sand similar?
Tony Yayo: Believe me. It’s a lot of lines to do it.
Lloyd Banks: And you got to add your own little things to it. Not to get down on any of the guys writing it, but you really got to add your own things to make it cater to who you are.
Tony Yayo: My girlfriend curses me out every day cuz I am [playing videogames] so long. I love it. It’s like an addiction to me.
Destructoid: Trust me. I understand.
Tony Yayo: You know how it is when you get a new game, bro?! I could be in the crib for, like, five hours playing the game.
Lloyd Banks: You got the new Call of Duty.
Tony Yayo: Call of Duty.
Lloyd Banks: I want 6, too.
Tony Yayo: I heard 6 is coming out!
Destructoid: If you had to choose a favorite genre, then, would you say shooters?
Tony Yayo: Yeah, I would say shooter games.
Lloyd Banks: I am so surprised.
Tony Yayo: Sports is cool, too. I am known to play, like, Madden and stuff like that.
Lloyd Banks: Sports games you can play for, like, 5 minutes or something, but Call of Duty there can be, like, ten people in the room at a time and you can play for hours. It depends on how many people want to play.
McWhertor: If THQ came to you guys individually and says: You have carte blanche to make your own game. What kind of game do you want to make?
Lloyd Banks: I want to make a sports game.
Tony Yayo: Straight action.
Lloyd Banks: Basketball. It’s, like, even this year you have 2K and you got NBA Live. Me? I have been playing Live since …
Tony Yayo: We always have this argument. He likes Live and I like 2K better!
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. [laughs]
Tony Yayo: He thinks the graphics is fake and whack.
Lloyd Banks: But that’s what so great about these days: You have the option to get Live or 2K.
Tony Yayo: Some people get both. I get both!
Lloyd Banks: I have been a fan of Live even back on the Genesis. But when new things started coming out on the PlayStation it was hard for me to cater to two different kinds of gameplay.
Tony Yayo: I like 2K. He hated 2K.
Lloyd Banks: I’m good at both, don’t get it twisted! I play both, but I have been such a fan of Live that I always want to see that.
Destructoid: Getting back to a previous statement you made: You actually play Final Fantasy?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, man. Sephiroth and all them dudes! All them games had a ton of discs. I played so much. They were all scratched up by the time you finished with ‘em. That was a big thing to see that game come up when all you had seen is fighting games and stuff.
Tony Yayo: Yeah, man. Street Fighter II!
McWhertor: It sounds like you guys know your stuff.
Tony Yayo: I bought every kind of “station” there is. I was the first person to own a PlayStation.
McWhertor: We have to exchange gamertags before the end.
Tony Yayo: You play online?
Tony Yayo: Holla’ online then.
Lloyd Banks: [laughs] I was playing online until my PlayStation 3 blew up.
Tony Yayo: Yeah. I am on my second PlayStation as well.
Destructoid: Damn, you broke a PlayStation 3? Those are tough to break.
Tony Yayo: When you leave it on 24/7 for 24 days …
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. 24 days.
Tony Yayo: I buy more new games than anything because people don’t want to put the games in the case. That gets me mad and makes me want to beat somebody up. You ain’t gonna’ put my game back in the case? It’s going to come back all scratched up? Nah.
McWhertor: Do you play a lot of videogames while you traveling?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. In the tour bus.
Tony Yayo: Hell yeah! What is a tour bus without games? That’s, like, every rapper and every singer. You are going to see that on their bus. That’s a part of the thing.
McWhertor: Did you hear feedback from fans concerning the first game, 50 Cent: Bulletproof?
Tony Yayo: Oh, of course. People loved the game!
Lloyd Banks: Most people I talked to beat it. It’s, like, they wanted another game that year.
Tony Yayo: You know what we did that we kind of laughed at? We wanted there to be less curses than the first one.
Destructoid: Wait, you wanted that?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, I was going to say, “you wanted that?”
Tony Yayo: [laughs] Us? Well, you know, not really us.
Lloyd Banks: I wanted to be, like, “Fuck that bitch up!”
Lloyd Banks: Somebody just shot a rocket at you? You’d curse! “Oh shit!”
Tony Yayo: A lot of parents bought the game, so we wanted to be cool. We see them and they say they just bought the game, so it’s cool. I got three kids, so … it’s definitely a beautiful thing for me.
Destructoid: The first game had a lot of controversy because it was 50 Cent starring in, of all things, a shooting game. People thought, as you said, a lot of parents were buying the game for their kids. Are you worried that the controversy is going to come back again with this sequel?
Lloyd Banks: It’s too late to hate.
Tony Yayo: Yeah, it’s too late to hate.
Lloyd Banks: [laughs] That’s the best way you can handle it. Nah, it’s entertainment.
Destructoid: I couldn’t agree with you more.
Lloyd Banks: What am I supposed to do, shoot a water gun?
Destructoid: [laughs] That would be an interesting take.
Tony Yayo: I think [the violence] is fine because people are getting to see where we came from. I mean, we came from nothing. There is always an appreciation from me and Banks for whatever we get. This is the original three right here: me, Banks, and Fiddy. We grew up with each other, so this Christmas when his brother buys this game and sees me running around or you can be me … I mean, that’s big to me. Me and Banks are very appreciative doing this thing with Fiddy. No one is jealous of him or feel bad about any of the success. We all three are in the videogame and we feel good!
Destructoid: Is it weird to see your face in a videogame?
Tony Yayo: I mean, it’s weird. I am from South Jamaica Queens and I remember when Banks and I didn’t have shit. I still remember not having anything. We can go through our old neighborhood and still hang with the people that don’t have. You know what I mean? So, for this Christmas when the game comes out it is cool for me, ya’ know? I’ll be in the store buying my copies.
Lloyd Banks: Like, it’s crazy.
Tony Yayo: [pointing at the screen, which is displaying Lloyd’s in-game character] Like, this is Banks! You can be Banks!
Destructoid: I guess it does give you a lot of cred to have a game when there are a ton of rappers out there that don’t have, and won’t ever get, their own videogame.
Lloyd Banks: And it puts you at another market, so, ya’ know, if I have a record coming out I can talk about in the gaming magazines. Did you see the videogame awards and how many people were there? There were mad people there.
Tony Yayo: It just shows you that the videogame world is a whole different world. And I’m a gamer. There are some people that just play games to play it … I’m a gamer! You know what I mean?
Destructoid: Of course. I bet you 90% of the celebrities at the VGAs haven’t even touched a videogame.
Tony Yayo: That’s what I’m sayin’! I’m a gamer, bro. The first thing I said [when I got to the VGAs] was, “Where is hell is the green room with all the games?”
Lloyd Banks: You know what, though? It really doesn’t matter. That’s what you learn, though, when you start to get a better understanding of who the audience is.
Tony Yayo: Think about how many games they have now? You have Chris Brown rapping and stuff.
Destructoid: I was actually going to ask you that: Would you guys have any interest in doing some kind of music game?
Lloyd Banks: I am not going to say my idea while you are recording, but I’m a hip-hop artist and that Rock Band thing is very interesting.
Tony Yayo: I think if you do a game like that it should be old-school and new-school hip-hop. And you have the legendary old-school hip hop guys and the new ones.
Destructoid: Do you play Rock Band?
Tony Yayo: Yeah, we play that every trip!
Lloyd Banks: I have footage of him playing it.
Tony Yayo: When you go to MTV, that’s, like, in the green room. While we are waiting we play it. I bought that game for my kids because I went to the store and they have samples out for you to play now. And that’s the most popular game, and not just because Kobe and them did a commercial … it’s just, four people can play at one time and I’ve three kids. I can grab the mic, one kid grabs the drum, and two on guitars.
Destructoid: Have you two seen any of the Soulja Boy videos on YouTube, where he is talking about how amazing he is at videogames?
Tony Yayo: Yeah, I have seen him playing something.
Lloyd Banks: Man, I don’t think he has been playing long enough.
Tony Yayo: He’s young.
Lloyd Banks: Play me in Pac-Man. You supposed to be good? Play me in Pac-Man.
McWhertor: How do you feel about the Def Jam games?
Tony Yayo: Man. I kind of hate the Def Jam games. They will have Ludacris fighting with a chain … I just hate it. I’m not a hater, but I was never into those kind of games. I don’t know. All of those games don’t have any action, ya’ know. It’s just fighting. Like, Ludacris will be fighting -- that’s in there.
Destructoid: It is kind of crazy game and doesn’t make any sense if you think about it.
Tony Yayo: Yeah. [laughs]
Lloyd Banks: It’s crazy to have all those characters up in that game.
Tony Yayo: I like the idea of it, but I just didn’t like the fighting sequence and, I don’t know.
McWhertor: Are videogames a good way for rappers and celebrities to get more exposure?
Tony Yayo: Definitely. I am not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just sayin’ I didn’t like the game. I don’t be liking Def Jam games.
Lloyd Banks: There are different genres. If you want to do a videogame like that, that’s cool. Even if there was some kind of educational game towards hip-hop. Like, how to use words.
McWhertor: My Hip-Hop Coach for the Nintendo DS. That’s an idea right there.
Tony Yayo: There you go.
Lloyd Banks: But it’s not my fault if the game doesn’t make it.
Tony Yayo: [laughs]
Lloyd Banks: [laughs]
Destructoid: So, back to Blood on the Sand. How long it the game? How many levels are there?
Tony Yayo: I think there is … I’m not really sure.
Lloyd Banks: There should be a lot because we were doing voiceovers for, like, days! We were recording on a lot of different days. [laughs]
Tony Yayo: [laughs] Games like this have at least ten boards that you have to run through.
Lloyd Banks: Or something like Grand Theft Auto where you have to play forever.
Destructoid: Are you fans of Grand Theft Auto?
Tony Yayo: Of course!
Lloyd Banks: Yeah.
Tony Yayo: I have Grand Theft Auto, I have Godfather. Some games I finish and some games I don’t.
Destructoid: How many playable characters are in this game besides you two?
Lloyd Banks: Shoot. I don’t know. You all the Internet, you let me know!
Tony Yayo: I think it’s just me, Fiddy, Banks, and Whoo Kid.
Destructoid: How much money do I need to pay you to be in the next game?
Tony Yayo: Man. We’ll talk about that when you’re not recording.
Lloyd Banks: [laughs]
Destructoid: You do realize that would be my dream come true.
Lloyd Banks: We don’t do this for the money. We do this for the art.
McWhertor: What is your videogame set-up like at home?
Tony Yayo: I got an Xbox 360, I got the regular green Xbox, I got PlayStation 3. I had a Wii, but I gave it away. No disrespect, it just wasn’t my thing.
Lloyd Banks: Man, I ain’t got no Wii either.
Tony Yayo: I had one game on the Wii where you had a motorcycle and one hand was the steering and the other hand was, like, two guns or something. But I really wasn’t into the graphics. I think a lot of people like to play it, but I just don’t like the graphics. The graphics is everything to me! It’s like when we used to play Nintendo and Genesis. You see the difference between, like, Duck Hunt and now. I mean, come on, bro.
Lloyd Banks: Yeah.
Tony Yayo: You remember Cobra for the original Nintendo?
McWhertor: Actually, no, I don’t remember that.
Tony Yayo: Cobra? With the two guys running around?
Destructoid/McWhertor: Oh, Contra!
Tony Yayo: Not Cobra, Contra! You just corrected me. Thank you, brother. You didn’t remember it. You were, like, what the hell is he talking about? Cobra? [laughs]
Tony Yayo: Now stuff looks so real! The trailers for games look so real. I was just looking at our trailer and the trailer for the new Mafia. God of War III. It’s crazy. It’s also crazy how, like, the Internet is helping games because they put up those trailers so fast. Like, right away!
McWhertor: Did you guys have a console you loved to play when you were kids?
Tony Yayo: Oh, Nintendo , blowin’ it up! [gesturing blowing in an NES game cartridge]
Lloyd Banks: Thank God you ain’t got to do that no more, man.
Destructoid: [laughs] Has your 360 gone out on you? Red ring?
Tony Yayo: Not yet, but my PlayStation 3 went out on me. Me and Banks had one of the first ones. It was, like, the highest gigabyte at the time. What is that?
McWhertor: The 60?
Tony Yayo: Yeah, the 60. And I was told they don’t even make those no more. We was the first ones with that.
McWhertor: Did you guys have to actually go out and buy them?
Tony Yayo: Yeah. I can’t wait two days.
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. You have to wait a few days for them to send them to you.
Tony Yayo: Sometimes you have to wait longer for them to mail it to you.
Lloyd Banks: Let me tell you something: I walked right into Toys ‘r Us. I can’t go without my PlayStation!
Destructoid: So, what console are you going to play Blood on the Sand on? 360 or PlayStation 3?
Lloyd Banks: I gotta’ go with PlayStation.
Destructoid: Why? Do you like the controller better on the PlayStation?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah. I’m not with the joystick on the 360. Certain things you got to leave to the arcade.
Destructoid: Did you guys perform original music for this game?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, there are, like, eighteen, nineteen records on there.
Destructoid: Wow, nineteen records! Are they going to be on a separate album for the game? A Blood on the Sand soundtrack, maybe?
Lloyd Banks: You have a lot of ideas over there. You all be, like, “soundtrack!”
Destructoid: I gotta’ get my cut.
Lloyd Banks: [laughs]
Destructoid: Are there any videogames you play that you are embarrassed to talk about? Games that almost make you feel too nerdy?
Lloyd Banks: Nah.
Tony Yayo: Nah.
Lloyd Banks: Well, he [pointing at Tony] got kids so he might have to play with his kids.
Destructoid: Yeah, I think he plays some games that he is not talking about. I bet when he gets off the tour bus he goes home and plays Cooking Mama.
Tony Yayo: [laughs]
Lloyd Banks: [laughs]
Tony Yayo: I got three kids, so I definitely have that Rock Band for Christmas. I have it in the garage. I bought an extra guitar and stuff like that. What I love about it is when your girlfriend is beefing you can just tell her “shut up and grab the mic!”
Destructoid: What I love about you guys is that you actually play videogames. You know what you are talking about!
Tony Yayo: Yeah. But Fiddy is more of a Pac-Man … and what’s that other game? Tetris?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, Tetris.
Destructoid: Wait, 50 Cent plays Tetris?
Lloyd Banks: Yeah, he talks all kinds of shit.