Rick Ross and Lloyd Banks aren’t friends. If that wasn’t made abundantly clear by their long and hostile history, a reminder was recently issued after Rick Ross antagonized the reclusive G-Unit rapper on Instagram Live. Before long, it felt like 2009 once again. Memories of G-Unit and Rick Ross’ extremely heated beef quickly resurfaced, seen through nostalgia-colored glasses by hip-hop heads across the board. Yet some found themselves perplexed -- what prompted Ross to diss Banks all these years later?

Though The Boss never really stopped engaging with 50 Cent, who previously did his damndest to ruin Rozay with “Officer Ricky” and various other shenanigans, his brief but contentious feud with Lloyd Banks was thought to be water under the bridge. The obvious theory is that some of the battle scars never truly faded. In many ways, the war was one of hip-hop’s most antagonistic, fueled largely in part to 50 Cent’s utterly ruthless tactics. But despite what it ultimately escalated into, much of the beef’s early stages transpired on wax. In fact, Banks only really entered the fray after Rick Ross name-dropped him in a 50 Cent diss track.

“‘In Da Club’ heard Banks wrote the chorus,” rapped Ross, on his “Officer Ricky” response “Kiss My Pinky Ring, Curly.” While not an overt insult per se, it’s unlikely that Banks appreciated having his name used as ammunition against his G-Unit partner. Considering that Ross and Fif had already exchanged shots on wax, perfectly capable of handling it on a one-on-one basis, the decision to involve Banks felt like a risky tactic for Ross. Though a case can be made that Banks’ involvement was inevitable, in hindsight it feels like it was Ross’s hand that ultimately steered him into the fray. G-Unit soon launched a counterattack with “I’ll Be The Shooter,” which found Banks taking aim at Ross for the first time.

G-Unit - "I'll Be The Shooter"

KINGS & BOSSES

Directly alluding to Rick Ross’ then-new album Deeper Than Rap, Banks issued a warning to the Boss in his brief but heated verse. “Get ya goons, fuck all the talkin’, N***as yappin 'bout who dress the best, get 'em Gucci coffins,” he spits. “When we tombstone, bullets hurt, 40s' break a few bones / come around you fool, and my shorty's takin jewels home.” He also alludes to Ross’ checkered history as a corrections officer, a former title that formed the centerpiece of Fif’s incendiary “Officer Ricky.” Unfazed at the prospect of immersing himself in another beef -- simply an occupational hazard in the G-Unit clique -- Banks willingly opened the door for retaliation.

And that’s exactly what he received. Wasting little time in responding, Ross clapped back with a two-pronged assault. The first found him making the foray into animation with the X-rated parody “Gay-Unit Workouts,” a cartoon that depicted Banks, Fifty, and Tony Yayo engaging in sexual escapades in a gym locker room. In tandem, Renzel queued up Rakim & Eric B’s classic for yet another diss track, this time taking direct aim at Lloyd Banks over his involvement on G-Unit’s “I’ll Be The Shooter.” In keeping with the ideas peddled by his dubious cartoon, Rick Ross seemed to center upon the narrative that Banks was a closeted homosexual. “Lloyd "Blanks, I know you wonder why I ain't saying nothing bout your bitch ass,” taunts Ross, reserving the outro for his newfound nemesis. “But I could never acknowledge you. You sucked your assistant’s dick on tape and he licked it.”

Only a few days later, Lloyd Banks launched a full-scale attack on Rick Ross, picking up where 50 Cent left off with “Officer Down.” Clearly out for blood, Banks proved his acumen for combat as he reserved over three minutes of straight bars for Rick Ross. “He been talkin' bout the weight he push, used to punch the clock in jail,” raps Banks, his flow relentless. “Drove his mama car 'round, now he got whatchu want for sale?” Capping the track with the declaration that “50 already bodied you, I just laid the chalk down,” Banks made it clear that he wasn’t interested in play; there are some who, to this day, count “Officer Down” among the game’s most incendiary diss tracks. “Blaze when you want me stop, tough plot,” snarls Banks. “Big macs for every one you can eat, pound for every pound you got.”

Lloyd Banks - "Officer Down"

DEEPER THAN RAP

As it always tends to be, the feud proved to be good publicity for Ross, who went on to drop off his Deeper Than Rap album on April 21st; it went on to secure Ross his third number one project, moving a total 158,000 units. Perhaps emboldened by the widespread love and early critical acclaim, Ross went on to challenge 50 Cent’s longtime friend and collaborator Eminem by calling him a “honky.”

It didn’t take long for Banks to catch wind of Ross’ latest batch of fightin’ words. “As far as calling out Eminem, c'mon man,” said Banks, speaking with MTV on his 27th birthday. “That's just gonna make me spank on you even harder. "I got 'Officer Down, Part II' coming. He'll have to deal with that.” He also downplayed Rozay’s Deeper Than Rap sales, claiming that they fell short of expectation considering the high profile beef with 50. On that note, Banks maintained that engaging with Ross has been beneficial to his own career, citing “Officer Down’s” lofty positions on the iTunes charts. “If he responds, it benefits me," Banks said. "It goes straight to iTunes. I found a way to make money off a beef."

Though momentum seemed to be favoring both parties in different ways, Banks found himself dropped from Interscope in May 2009, leaving his upcoming Hunger For More 2 project without a home. Now a free agent, Rick Ross seized the opportunity to belittle Banks for his uncertain label situation, a claim that stung all the more following 50’s notorious claim that “Koch Records was a graveyard.” That October, Ross kept the disrespectful energy toward the entire G-Unit camp, only this time he made sure to double down on Banks, smugly claiming that the rapper had signed with the Amalgam Digital record label.

“I think we should have a moment of silence for Lloyd Banks,” begins Ross, dramatically crossing himself for good measure. “I ain’t gon’ lie man, I bought Hunger For More. If the music was still that good, I’d buy it. But ever since 50 put out the gay tape, all his confidence went out the window. But that was smart. That was the biggest seller you had in the past two years, the Lloyd Banks gay tape. They say Lady Gaga play that shit on tour all the time.” Declaring that Banks is “really suffering,” Ross closed his rant by encouraging Banks to “run with the gay tape,” all while Gunplay laughs maniacally by his side. Between that and the condescending renditions of “I’m So Fly,” Ross appeared to be confident in his position at the top.

It should be noted that while Ross did continuously ridicule Banks for months following “Officer Down,” he never actually committed to laying down a full-blown response on wax. For that reason alone, there are many who tout Banks to be the decisive victor. And while Banks himself kept the diss tracks to a minimum, he did address the feud during an interview pre-Hunger For More 2, when rumors of a Def Jam deal were swirling. Upon being asked about a hypothetical run-in with Ross, Banks had this to say: “I think he would make it his business not to be in the building when we around. If I get in that building, I will be the bigger business. He would go from having an office to just operating from Florida. He knows that. This the same guy, months ago, that said Def Jam would never sign me. Yo, he’s crazy man. He putting that stuff up they nose. Put the lobsters down and pick up the mic!”

Lloyd Banks & Rick Ross exchanging pleasantries

VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCE

Following that exchange, Banks and Ross ultimately took a step back from squaring up against one another. Albums came and went without even the slightest subliminal. Though such an onslaught might have felled a lesser rapper, Rick Ross somehow managed to emerge from his G-Unit beef stronger than ever; each passing year saw marked increases in his critical acclaim, his business endeavors, and his respect from fellow emcees. On the other hand, Banks found himself quietly distancing himself from the rap game, stepping into pseudo-retirement with his position as the PLK uncontested. Unfortunately, 50 Cent and Ross remained at odds for the entire time, both on social media and in the courtroom. In fact, a recent legal dispute between the two ultimately emboldened Ross to reopen the long-healed scar left by “Officer Down,” over ten years removed from its initial release.

The stage was initially set when Rick Ross rapped over “In Da Club” on his 2015 Renzel Remixes mixtape, prompting Fif to sic the legal eagles on his longtime rival. After a judge tossed out 50’s two-million-dollar lawsuit on the basis that he was not the original rightsholder of “In Da Club” when Ross released the track, The Boss wasted little time in basking in the spoils of victory. Perhaps the nostalgia proved too overwhelming, transporting him back to that 2009 energy, willing to engage now that his enemies’ guards have dropped. It’s no coincidence that Ross’ latest attack on Lloyd Banks bears a striking similarity to his in-studio video from 2009, down to a reprisal of “I’m So Fly.”

“Banks, you still got some money? Show us what you livin' like," gloats Ross, in a video from late August. "If you ain't got no money, I'll give you five grand for the Banks name. That might be one of my aliases -- Dank Sinatra." In addition to the patronizing offer, Ross also recommended that Banks title his next album Victim Of Circumstance, an allusion to his tumultuous relationship with 50 Cent. The shots quickly sparked nostalgia in those who look back fondly on the heated feud, many of whom began clamoring for the long-awaited “Officer Down 2.” And though it appeared the people had largely sided with Banks, if only because he held it down on wax, the Punchline King made it clear that he would not be committing to the long-dormant feud.

“I’ll NEVER join the circus," he declared on Twitter, the day after Renzel’s attack. "So don’t expect it from me..peace & love." Yet that didn’t stop Ross from further goading his longtime rival, doubling down in a passive-aggressive Instagram comment. “Question was are you broke brother?” asks Ross, the smugness leaping from the screen. In a curious turn, it actually seems like Ross is attempting to goad Banks into penning another diss-track, though the chance of him responding in kind feels relatively minimal. Some have come to feel that a flex can have the same devastating impact as a well-aimed bar. On the other hand, perhaps Ross is indeed looking to step into the ring once more. Lest we forget, he didn’t shy away from responding on wax all those years ago, though admittedly it doesn’t seem like his style these days.

Either way, it’s clear that the animosity between the two rappers has yet to fade -- even if the scars have. And despite Banks’ protestation, it’s certainly tough to avoid that circus whenever it rolls into town.