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Lloyd Polite Jr. goes by Lloyd on the stage and in the studio.

But during a recent phone interview, the rapper/R&B artist was everything his surname suggested - as well as a little tired.

"When you're coming down from an amazing night of drunken slumber, the time (escapes) you," he said with a laugh by way of apology for saying "good morning" at 12:45 p.m.

He explained that he was recovering from the New York City CD release party for his new album "King of Hearts," which was released July 5.

"I'm excited," he said. "It's the first time that I've gotten a good critical response. I just hope people love it as much as I've hated making it. It's consumed the past two years."

Lloyd admitted that he has more of a love relationship with his craft than a love-hate relationship. The new track "Cupid" says it all.

"Love is the greatest message in the world," he said.

But the recording process was a huge undertaking. He collaborated with other artists, producers, saxophonists and trumpeters. He played piano. He freestyled. He attacked subjects from promiscuity to poverty. One song is dedicated to an ex.

The resulting CD has a "regal and grandiose" theme, Lloyd said.

But Lloyd hasn't completely abandoned the club-ready style that's produced past hits including "Get It Shawty."

Now that his album's in hand, Lloyd said he was looking forward to hitting the road with Lil' Wayne's "I Am Still Music Tour." It stops at Hershey's Giant Center July 27.

"It couldn't be better timing," Lloyd said. "Wayne's my favorite rapper."

They had some mutual friends and met in the studio about a decade ago - when Lloyd was just 16. Both artists were born in New Orleans, although Lloyd lived near Atlanta for most of his life. They've been on each other's tracks and bonded over a football rivalry. Weezy roots for the New Orleans Saints. Lloyd's an Atlanta Falcons fan.

To Lloyd, Wayne is both a peer and a legend. He respects him along with "all the fearless people in the world," including Andre 3000, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Timbaland and Michael Jackson.

He got to speak with Jackson briefly a few years ago.

"He told me I had a great voice," Lloyd said. "He told me to never look back - keep pushing."

Jackson's death left a void, Lloyd said, but Gene Kelly and Sammy Davis Jr. came before, and there will be more music titans in the future.

The rap community has become an uber-competitive environment that breeds stars.

"Hip-hop started out with a lot of integrity underground," Lloyd said. "I think that we have invaded pop culture. It's important to keep the competitiveness. It's good for the game."

Rap and R&B artists collaborate often, but sometimes that serves to highlight different styles on one track.

"You can almost hear us competing with each other," Lloyd said.

But, for now, Lloyd wants to take a break from the studio to shoot music videos and connect with fans in concert.

"I want this album to sink in and (for people) to live with it and appreciate it," he said. "What's next to come is yet to be seen."

Something fans will see at Lloyd's upcoming shows is his latest tattoo, which he got earlier this month. The illustration of guns and roses extends around the back of his head. It represents two sides if his persona - the street-savvy and the smooth romantic.

And, like anything worth doing, it came with some pain.

"Greatness comes with sacrifices," Lloyd said.

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff

If you go

Lil' Wayne's "I Am Still Music Tour" hits the stage at 7 p.m. July 27 at the Giant Center, 550 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey. The concert will feature Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, Far East Moment and Lloyd. Tickets are $59.75, $79.75 and $99.75.

For details and tickets, call 534-3911 or visit www.giantcenter.com.

Online

For details about Lloyd, visit www.lloydmusic.com.

Read more meet-the-artist interview at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.

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