When I first started listening to David Banner in around 2005/6 he was an edgy, wild, aggressive and at times emotional rapper and producer; showing what it was to be an artist from the Southern states [Banner originates from Mississippi]. Tracks such as ‘Like a pimp’ and ‘Crank it up’ were perfect examples of what I loved about southern rap; with beats and bars you’d hear pumping out of Cadillacs 3 blocks away! His album tracks were able to support his hits with countless infectious rumbling basses and in-your-face hooks making me wile out in my bedroom.
Everything up to and including his 2005 album ‘Certified’ had the quality levels of someone who was clearly a ‘pro in the game’ but since then Levelle Crump [Banner’s government name] has only sporadically released strong hits, such as ‘9mm’ with Snoop and Lil Wayne, and ‘Seein’ Thangs’ which was on DJ Shadow’s experimental record ‘The Outsider’.
This rebellious hard hip hop was replaced with radio friendly joints like ‘Play’ and ‘Get like Me’ which was a shame as there have been few that had his relentless passion and top-notch production. Despite his political and social activism, supporting the ‘Heal the hood’ campaign and extensive charity work after Hurricane Katrina [for which he was show official recognition for], Banner’s moved out of the dirty south spotlight and instead been working on a Major national advertisment for energy drink Gatorade. He hammers the nail in his underground coffin by stating in the video below that he no longer feels he can justify making actual music when the corporations offer him so much to make advertisements for them, which made me feel a bit queezy to hear from his mouth.
However there is still hope for Banner yet as he’s due to release a collaborative album entitled “Death Of A Pop Star” with 9th Wonder; a ‘backpacker’ producer who’s worked with the likes of Talib Kweli and Jean Grae; two artists effectively on the other end of the spectrum from Banner.
I’m not a pessimistic person so not writing this off just yet, but as a long time fan, I’d urge him to go back to what he does best and hit us with that hardcore sound he helped forge into the scene…