David Banner Preaches!
When talking with HipHopDX,
each sentence uttered from David Banners
had an undeterred consistency: passion. When talking about Loud.coms contest
that lets listeners download beats by the likes of Banner, Cool & Dre
and others for $0.99 cents each and submit their finished songs to win $100,000
and a deal with SRC Records, he sounds as if he really wants to help would-be
MCs achieve their dreams. When asked about his beats, he answers with
depression. When asked about his versatility as an artist, he answers with a
diatribe about hypocrisy in America, God and talk show host/media mogul Oprah Winfrey. He talks about his
community service with the same pride as Kobe
Bryant does while reliving a 50-point game, and the same excitement a
sneaker fiend does while talking about limited edition Air Maxes. Whether you agree
with the Mississippi MC/producer/activist or not, you cant say that he doesnt
HipHopDX: First off, what was your involvement with the contest?
David Banner: My involvement was just contributing to the music, giving people that opportunity to have a David Banner beat. The most important thing about Loud.com is that it kills all excuses that a rapper would ever have. We dont have dope beats, we dont have Pro Tools, we cant get our demos to Steve Rifkind. Thats why I like Loud.com so much. Somebody from the south, where Im from, they dont always have the opportunity. [In this contest] everybodys on a level playing field. You got the same beats, you got the same opportunities, you got the same everything. Im just contributing hot ass beats.
HipHopDX: A lot of the time, winners of contests like this either fizz out, or never put out anything. What do you think would make this contest different?
David Banner: I dont know. I can only tell you what I would do. Maybe this is another one that fizzles out, or maybe this may be an exception to the rule. I hear what youre saying I couldnt answer that question, because thats up to the winner, and I have no idea who the winners going to be. Theres no way I contribute to that; the only way that I can contribute to that is by giving them the chance to buy a David Banner beat, and take pride in them having better beats than other people in the position that theyre in.
HipHopDX: So you dont have any expectations for the contest at all?
David Banner: I dont have any expectations in life, period. Any time you put expectations on anything in life, you either put over-expectations, or you dont give people enough credit. I just let people do what they do, and itll be what it is. I went through the worst year of my life last year, and I just realized that youll come out thinking youll have the best album in the world, and then it flops, and then youre going through a depression or you dont want to rap no more. If you would have never had those expectations in the worst place, and you just let it be what it is, it wouldve just been what it was, whether its successful or not. I dont put expectations on things, that only leads you to failure or disappointment.
HipHopDX: The beats you made for this contest, were they beats you made specifically for the contest, or beats you had already made?
David Banner: They were beats I had already made, but I picked out the ones that would give people every type of emotion they could possibly want. I know a lot of people just put real uptempo, hard beats up there. But the beats arent just for the contest, thats where people get it wrong. It could be some people who just want to download a David Banner beat and get their vibe on. Some people still just like to rap. Its not business for everybody, so I tried to connect every promotion. Thats what I try to do with my albums. Not just a battle beat, not just a party beat, but any type of emotion you could possibly have, I want a person to be able to get it out of a David Banner beat.
HipHopDX: Your production work is pretty serious, especially for you being an MC. Which came first, and how did the other come along?
David Banner: Rapping came first. I never wanted to be a producer; I became a producer by necessity. I dont believe in excuses. I couldnt sign a dope producer when I first started, and since I couldnt find nobody, that meant I had to do it myself. That ended up being the best thing for me; I make ten times more money as a producer than I would as [just] a rapper. Its a blessing that God gave to me, and I accepted it.
HipHopDX: Where do you think that your sound comes from?
David Banner: Pain. Whether its the relief of pain, or the first time you meet pain, whatever. Or if its love, or its betrayal, its all pain. The only common thread that men have, whether rich or poor, is pain. Because somebody that you know and love is going to die. Shit, youre going to die. So thats why the music thats most successful is usually the shit thats talking about my girlfriend slept with my best friend, or this that and the other. Its that pain, its that common thread. People can feel it. Everybody cant feel a better life or feel better things. Everybody aint gon feel politics, because politics aint never affected their community in a positive way. But everybody feels pain.
HipHopDX: That goes into my next question. Youve got tracks to ride to, but conscious and political tracks that are just as potent. On your first album, there was Fuck Em, and Mississippi right after that. As someone whos clearly aware of what goes on around him, do you feel conflicted when making more superficial tracks?
David Banner: I dont think its superficial, and I dont think its a conflict. I think life as a whole is a direct opposite. Think of Saturday and Sunday. Most folks party on Saturday, and go to church still smelling like Hennessey on Sunday. Its just life, and I think that Americans as a whole are such hypocrites that they wont tell the truth. Just tell the truth: you like pussy and weed, and alcohol and violence. You just do; thats Americans. But Americans want to play it like, We need to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. Americas got most of the weapons of mass destruction, and burned most of the receipts for the mothafuckas. Thats how life is. I think thats why people like Pac so much, because he just told the truth. We all good and bad beings by nature; theres a ying and yang. When you see totally see life the way that its supposed to be is when you find a calm medium for them both.
I dont think its superficial. I like ass and titties, but
God is a part of me, doing for my community is a part of me. I like to drink, I
do. I like to donate money to communities that need it. All of thats David Banner. And one is not better
than the other. Only one thats better is me praising God, and thats it.
Everything else is about the same. Once you lean toward anyone more than the
other is when you become a real hypocrite, because youre not telling the truth
to these kids. I think these positive rappers who are lying to the kids, and
are just as detrimental as any person who just does gangsta rap and nothing
else. Theyre just as detrimental, because theyre lying to the children.
Youre making them feel like they have to be perfect in order to be a
revolutionary. Malcolm X was a pimp.
Martin Luther King was a womanizer;
he liked pussy. Whether we admit it or not, its the truth. And until we start
dealing in truths, well never get to where we totally need to be as a
community of human beings.
HipHopDX: I definitely understand what youre saying, about the balance. That balance is there with you, but it doesnt seem to be there in the music industry
David Banner: I disagree. I think that the music is there. When I listen to T.I., I hear those songs. [imitating T.I.] I cant forgive myself. I hear it in Jeezy, I hear it in Snoop, I hear it in Scarface, I hear it in Too Short. Too Short said something that was so monumental. He said, I did songs about the ghetto, I did songs about uplifting people. But all America remembers is Biiitch! Snoop made a song about Tookie [Williams]. Nobody pumped that, nobody really embraced that song. The truth is that its there. It was easier for Pac, because Pac was coming right out of the Public Enemy movement, he was right after that movement so he could slide it in. But the truth is, America doesnt want it. I put out Cadillac on 22s [as a single] did people gravitate toward that? No! The truth is, these artists have it in their songs. But most people dont do it; an artists thing is to gravitate toward [customers]. People dont criticize McDonalds for putting out unhealthy Big Macs, because thats what America wants. Truth is, you can tell rappers to start making it, and when they break, you arent going to help them. If I kept doing [songs like] Cadillac On 22s, I wouldnt be talking to you now. Theyd be wanting to hear Play. As much as people talk their shit, they want it. So youre going to give it to them, just like McDonalds continues to give you those greasy-ass fries, and youre going to keep eating them. People said that Oprah, at her last party, talked [negatively] a lot about rap. But as soon as 50 Cents song came on, she was shaking her ass. We know the truth. It is what it is.
The thing I hateIf were going to put pressure, put pressure on America. Put pressure on movies like The Departed, or Kill Bill 2. Dont nobody put no pressure on them. Because its powerful white people; they can do whatever they want to. But as soon as young black men mirror what America does, its a problem. Rap is the reason why the dude killed the kids in Virginia; rap is the reason kids are getting pregnant. Thats a lie. Ten years ago, they said rap wasnt going to last; now, its a problem for everything. America is the most evil, lying country in the world. They want to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, but they have the most weapons of mass destruction, and the most receipts for weapons of mass destruction sold. Tell Oprah to put me on her show, put Bun B on her show, put Snoop or her show, put T.I. on her show, I bet you we break they ass off. Whats so crazy is that theyre attacking our form of music, and watch if hip-hop doesnt continue to evolve as a consumer-based product, its going to be like jazz. Youve got two or three albums, and the rest of the shit sits on the shelf. You know what America wants. America wants sex and drugs, as much as hypocrite people say that thats not what they want. What does America consume the most? Shows where people are dying, where people are having multiple partners with a lot of sex They sell beer with half-naked women. Come on, man, beer doesnt have anything to do with naked women. I saw a barbershop commercial with a half-naked woman. Shit aint got shit to do with a woman half-naked. Come on, dog, thats what America wants. Lets be honest to each other, quit lying to these kids.
HipHopDX: Well in that case, why do you think that is? Why do you think that stuff is more embraced?
David Banner: Thats America. Party, be happy. Consume more than you need. Thats always been America, dude. Americas fucked up, and we wont admit it. America has always been based on the gladiator type of mindset. Fight. Be merry. Eat, drink, be happy. No matter at what cost, whether its the cost of your childrens lives Party. Stay drunk, stay inebriated. Have sex, a lot of it.
HipHopDX: Outside of your music, youve been really active in your community, whether its helping Hurricane Katrina victims or raising awareness for the death of Emmitt Till. As a celebrity, you can have more input than others can toward making things happen. Can you think of any situations when you were younger where meting a celebrity made you look at things differently?
David Banner: There were a bunch of situations, I couldnt name one specific situations. But for some reason, Ive always been a person that cared about poor people or people who didnt have much. I always tell people that its not a rappers responsibility to be a role model, but its my responsibility as a man. I just happen to be David Banner.
HipHopDX: Out of everything that youve done, what sticks out to you the most as something that left you thinking, Man, I really made a difference?
David Banner: Heal The Hood concert in Atlanta. That was the greatest accomplishment of my life. For us to be able to rally 15,000 people in the name of doing something for somebody else, and the fact that it was all the rappers and entertainers that people say dont do anything, and that theyre just gangsta rappers. T.I. David Banner, Lil Jon, Nelly, all these people. It was just a wonderful situation, and something Im proud of. We raised over a half a million dollars, for the first time that all urban radio outlets got togetherClear Channel, Radio One. It was crazy, because we called all the media outthey didnt send people, but once they found out how successful the concert was, didnt nobody do any coverage on it, because they were embarrassed that they werent there. The LA Times said it was the biggest urban relief concert in history, and thats something that I was a part of, and it was under David Banners name. It was a really positive experience, it was beautiful.