Exclusive: One of Hip Hop's most inspiring voices, David Banner speaks on the issues that matter to him if he were in the Oval Office, and why Diddy, Tech N9ne and a few others would be getting calls.
David Banner is hard at work on the digital campaign trail. Galvanizing his fan base through his 2M1 movement, the Mississippi-emcee is dropping singles and videos like stump speeches in effort to inspire two million people to donate $1 for his next album, Sex, Drugs, And Video Games. It’s a fitting exercise, really. In this independent era, doing for self is the only way to path towards ownership - a priority for Banner. The self-described “Time Bender” has delivered a decade’s worth of integrity-laced raps and ass-shaking anthems to the culture. He’s an award winning philanthropist who’s sold millions of records while maintaining his rep as a voice for the voiceless. He’s even testified before Congress. If anyone in Hip Hop is capable of conducting a compelling interview hypothesizing on what they would do as President Of The United States, it’s David Banner. So we asked him.
In this exclusive conversation with HipHopDX, David Banner breaks down the platform of the David Banner Administration, names Cabinet members, and explains how part of the problem with America is that our “politicians are representatives of special interest groups.”
HipHopDX: It sounds like the corporate lobbying system would be the first thing to go if David Banner were President.
David Banner: Oh yeah. I don’t want to have anything to do with “Corporate.” How can I properly police the situation and things that are going on in Corporate America if Corporate America is the reason why I’m there? The people should be the main concern. I watch all these people, especially the Republicans. The Republicans and the Democrats both do this, but the Republicans don’t care whether [President Barack] Obama is doing right or whatever the case may be. It’s just, “Down with Obama!” Not, “No matter what happened, you are our President now and we’re going to work together to do the right thing for the people.” [With the Republicans it’s], “We’re going to make you look bad and we don’t care if the American people suffer.” I don’t care nothing about no corporation. I don’t care nothing about special interest groups. I don’t care about nothing but the people as a whole. And more so, I care about poor people because people with money have an opportunity to do what they need to do to make sure they do for their families. They can only spend so much money. Even in the Rap game there are those that can’t speak for themselves. Rich people can speak for themselves. I try my hardest to speak for people who don’t have a voice and be that person that’s in the door that’s able to see both sides; be able to properly articulate both sides. Sometimes we have to explain the other side to some people. Just because a person has money doesn’t always mean they should be beat up on. Just because you have money, don’t mean that you’re evil. I have some friends who are part of that 1% that are good people; who really do good things. So we can’t be as ignorant and generalize the same way they do our people everyday.
DX: What about healthcare? How would President David Banner approach healthcare?
David Banner: This is what I’ll say about healthcare: it is amazing that country’s that don’t have nearly the power that America has have worked out a system to take care of people who don’t have access to healthcare. Why can’t you work with another country that has successfully given healthcare to the people and implement a similar plan? It’s not hard. All these special interests are making sure they get paid or [their] company gets paid. People do not care about the well being of the people because what you have to understand is that America makes money off of the problems they claim they want to solve. The healthcare industry makes money off of people getting sick; poor people having to come back. That’s the whole underground plan. That’s the elephant in the room. Why not go to any of these places and just figure out what they did to make it right? It’s not hard, if we’re really the most powerful country in the world like we say we are.
DX: There’s been a lot of rhetoric and now legislation targeting illegal immigrants. States like Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia have passed legislation aimed at curbing undocumented immigrants. Where does the David Banner administration stand on immigration?
David Banner: That’s a really touchy topic because it’s so amazing how I see all these people jumping up and down about immigration when all of us are immigrants except Native Americans, and they get treated worse than anybody! Immigration, that would be something that me and my cabinet would have to work on and talk about. It’s really amazing to see people take stances on immigration so hard and they’re immigrants themselves.
DX: Chuck D did an interview with HipHopDX a few weeks back. One of the things he talks about in the interview is how Bill Clinton signing the 1996 Telecommunications Act was the benchmark legislation that led to today’s consolidated industry that makes it difficult for artists not on one of the three major record labels to get access to radio play and major television networks. Would you take steps to loosen the corporate strangle holds on, not only the entertainment industry and the telecommunications industry, but also the financial services industry [and others], for example?
David Banner: I would love to take the corporate stranglehold off of everything. It goes back to what I was saying about music. At the end of the day, America has convinced Americans that the general public is not important. If we stop working and we stop buying, everything would crumble. With Americans continuously being so parasitic, America wonders why it’s in the position that it’s in and it’s because we’ve been so greedy when we’ve made enough money to pass around a million times. There are only so many cars you can buy. There’s only so much land on this Earth. Why is everybody so greedy? We wonder why our industrial cities are the way that they are? Shareholders [making a profit] is never enough. They always want to find a way to make more money and more money and more money, until the cities are eaten up. We don’t stand for anything but money then wonder why our cities and towns are in the position that they are in. It’s our greed. It’s our parasitic nature.
We’ll give $3,000 to a clothing company for a pair of shoes that don’t do nothing in our hood, that never comes to see us, that never even advertises towards us. It’s the same way with Black folks in politics. We give our vote to Democrats when Democrats don’t even specifically market towards us anymore. They don’t even take care of our special interests because they know they already got our vote. We’ve got to start making people work for our money. We’ve got to start supporting the people that do for our community. It’s bigger than just music. Whether somebody likes David Banner or not - if you like what I stand for - the only way I can continue to speak is if I have the numbers behind me. It ain’t YouTube and it ain’t Twitter because you can click the button for free. We’ve got to start pulling paper out of our pocket and start doing something that means something for the people that we support and then hold them to the shit that they say. “David Banner says he’s gonna shoot a movie with this 2M1 campaign? We want to see it.” If you’re gonna say something, do it. They’re true to what they say they’re gonna do to us. They tell us they don’t care and they show us they don’t care. At least they’re consistent.
DX: One of the big issues last year was SOPA/PIPA - big legislation billed as curbing online piracy of music and movie content. Where does the Banner Administration stand on curbing the freedom of the internet?
David Banner: That is similar to the First Amendment right. There are certain things that people shouldn’t say but we shouldn’t take away from our ability to say any word. I believe people shouldn’t say the word “nigga” because they choose to not say it and it’s not for them to say. But if you take away that ability, then you take away people’s First Amendment rights. Then you’re playing with their ability to take away any word; for them to cut out anything that you say. So as much as piracy effects us as an artist, the power and the ability of what we’re able to do is just as powerful, too. As the government starts sticking their hand in that aspect they will start to take other powers and other things we’re able to do on the Internet, too - which gives corporate entities power. It’s simple. There should be repercussions on certain things that people do on the internet just like if you get caught breaking certain rules and regulations in the real world. If you get caught doing something then you have to serve when you get caught. All that policing and trying to figure this out and figure that out is crazy. It’s a bit much, but it’s a slippery slope. That’s complex.
DX: How would you regulate that? If it’s comparable to breaking the law in the real world, who would be the enforcer in the digital world?
David Banner: I would think it would have to be somebody in the middle. It’s hard for me to say if it should be federal or it if should be local government because the way the system is set up now, the police and the feds and all of them, they support corporate. As much as their slogans say “Protect And Serve,” they’re not doing nothing but serving. In my administration, I could literally say that it could be counted on a federal level because that would be a reflection of the people and not necessarily Corporate America. The way that government is set up right now, they support them. They don’t support us.
If I was President, policemen wouldn’t be able to pull people over for nothing. You wouldn’t be able to pull people over for seat belt laws or for talking on the phone - all of those excuses that they use to give them the right to police them without probable cause. I believe that the American people should be comfortable but if you do get caught doing wrong, there’s a penalty. People need to know that it’s not sweet if they do break the law. We’re not here to make the American people feel anxious and always feel like they’re under watch or that every time they go into the airport they’re getting patted down. Every time they look across they’re getting pulled over by the cops or getting a ticket. It’s always funky in America now. It ain’t free no more. None of this shit free. You can’t even park on the side of the street. Police treat you like you owe them something. At least in our community.
DX: Let’s talk about Cabinet positions. Who would be Vice President of the David Banner Administration?
David Banner: I’m trying to think of people that would really care and really do the job and not just throw out popular names. You know who would probably be my Vice President?
DX: Who’s that?
David Banner: Sway [Calloway] from MTV. I really believe that Sway really cares about people. He comes from Oakland. He comes from the struggle. Every time me and him talk, I really believe in my heart that he’s about the business at hand; that he really has a desire to really do for people. What’s the next position?
DX: Secretary of State.
David Banner: Secretary of State would be Bun B. He’s always present and he’s very articulate. He’s very, very articulate. Let’s switch, actually. Let’s put Bun B as Vice President and Sway as Secretary Of State just given Bun B’s ability to speak.
DX: How about Secretary of Defense?
David Banner: Do we have to keep it in the music industry, or just Entertainment period?
DX: Let’s say Entertainment overall.
David Banner: Samuel L. Jackson because - good or bad, wrong or right - he stands firm in what he believes. You may not agree with it. And he has a way of projecting and commanding the space around him. For a Secretary of Defense, I think that’s most important: to be able to stand firm in the shakiest times and be able to command respect and move people in those times of us being unsure. And he got eaten by a shark! [Laughs] I had the opportunity to work with [Samuel L. Jackson]. He was my acting coach for Black Snake Moan and the way he commands the space is really, really important.
DX: What about Chief of Staff?
David Banner: Who do you think has the rawest independent movement that you’ve seen?
DX: The rawest independent movement? Tech N9ne.
David Banner: I’d probably say Tech N9ne then. His ability to put together a system and implement that system regardless of what the circumstances are. For him to be able to put together a system, hold that system together and allow it to translate and continue to run regardless of whether it’s major or independent is really important. I would probably say Tech N9ne.
DX: Secretary of Education?
David Banner: Erykah Badu. She’s one of the most intelligent people that I’ve ever met. The way that she feels about children and the passion that she has and the fact that she’s isn’t into conventional education, I think she would implement what’s best for the children, not what’s best for the state.
DX: What about [Secretary of Treasury]?
David Banner: [Diddy] would have to be my [Secretary Of Treasury]. Well, I don’t know. The reason why I would say [Diddy] is that Puff could find a way to use other people’s money and other countries’ money so we wouldn’t have to spend America’s money. I think Puffy could drop the national deficit. Puffy would get other countries to buy Ciroc so we could use that money to feed these kids. But I don’t know. Maybe his corporate ties would get us in trouble.
I probably would say Ludacris for Treasurer. I would say Luda because of his cool head and his ability to rationally think but he still has the heart for poor people. Ludacris does so much for the inner city while still being able to make a lot of money for himself. A lot of people do a lot of charity but their pockets don’t reflect their heart. Ludacris has been able to maintain a healthy balance.
For more information on David Banner’s 2M1 campaign, visit DavidBanner.com.