David Banner knows about struggle. Since his last album, 2005s Certified, the rapper/activist had to deal with the traumatic effects of Hurricane Katrina on his native Mississippi, attacks on Hip-Hop from the federal government, and his fathers death from cancer in 2007. Despite these hardships and thoughts of retirement, Banner has persevered. He was one of the few artists to testify before Congress last year defending Hip-Hop lyrics, and did so again recently on BETs Hip-Hop vs. America.Now with a new album, The Greatest Story Ever Told, scheduled for release on July 15, David Banner explains the apathy and hypocrisy of our culture, and why his will remains unbroken. AllHipHop.com: How have you approached this record differently, if you have, from your last albums?David Banner: Its strange because initially my approach was just (making) hit records. Being that I produce myself I was trying to put as many back to back hits as I could. I know that nobody thats on the level that I am is as close to the streets as I was when stuff got bad for me. So I was able to come back to the street and listen to what kids wanted and give it back to them.Katrina had hit and the support still wasnt there for music with political content. I thought this was what the world wanted from us? But then I realized they were a bunch of hypocrites so I just said f**k it Im gonna focus on just hit records.But then here comes George Bush and all of his antics and then this high ass gas. People on the streets I know never cared about politics start coming up to me saying yo Banner we now understand what you talking about. We know you gonna bring it on this album. We cant wait! And I aint have no politics on the album (laughs). It was straight stuntin. AllHipHop.com: So you felt you had to go back and modify it?Banner: I trashed that whole album and made a new one called 13, which is like Outkast on crack. But then I realized the best David Banner is a synthesis of everything: the political, street, and experimentation. The album is 22 tracks. And Universal is mad because I dont have standard, mechanical tracks. But I was like f**k that were gonna give the people a quality album. If anybody says The Greatest Story Ever Told isnt the greatest, theres something they can do. They can close their eyes, pucker up, and allow me to push their face into rhinoceros balls
sweaty rhinoceros balls. AllHipHop.com: Do you feel quality albums are missing in todays market?Banner: One of the reasons why music is so f**ked up is that people have been putting out so much trash lately. If people dont buy into The Greatest Story Ever Told I dont wanna hear these rules and regulations about how Hip-Hop is supposed to be and you want it to better. Naw, you just wanna continue to d**kride. This is the album people have been waiting for. If they dont get it, Ill go do a movie.
The conversations me and RZA had were amazing, and I dont think we couldve had them say four years ago. I told him, 'Dude let me produce you. I know youre a great producer but I got ideas that can work.' The problem with Hip-Hop is that everyone is Pro Tools or let me send you the track. That wasnt the case with RZA, we were in the studio together and I think it will be a beneficial relationship for years to
AllHipHop.com: You recently produced the RZA for his Digi Snacks (Straight Up The Block) album. Being that youre a formidable producer in your own right, what did you guys pick up from each other?Banner: It was a learning experience. With the lack of record sales everyone is coming back to their senses. Its humbling for all of us. The conversations me and RZA had were amazing, and I dont think we couldve had them say four years ago. I told him, Dude let me produce you. I know youre a great producer but I got ideas that can work. The problem with Hip-Hop is that everyone is Pro Tools or let me send you the track. That wasnt the case with RZA, we were in the studio together and I think it will be a beneficial relationship for years to come.AllHipHop.com: Katrinas lingering devastation on Mississippi, New Orleans, and Alabama is out the public consciousness. Do you feel its due more to general apathy or the media just pushing it away.Banner: I told everyone this would happen. Were only concerned with what the media spoonfeeds us. Were concerned about Sean Bell as long as its on CNN. We dont seek anything on our own. The truth is were only emotional or speaking out if its on TV. So if they (the media) want it to stop they just turn it off. And then us (Hip-Hop media), we follow the big media outlets to keep our numbers up. And thats some bulls**t.AllHipHop.com: On the BET Hip-Hop vs. America mens panel, you stated that there was a lot of ego-stroking being done, and when the cameras stopped everyone would just go about their business. Did that happen or were there steps taken to initiate action after the show.Banner: Everyone exchanges numbers but theres no follow up, but I knew that was what was gonna happen. Thats why I said it. Yall aint gonna do s**t but talk.AllHipHop.com: Do you feel there have been any ramifications from you speaking before Congress last year about lyrics in Hip-Hop music, or that it was mostly posturing on Congress part?Banner: If we wouldnt have stepped up some s**t wouldve happened. We showed that there are intelligent Black people in rap that will protect our form of music. But what I dont understand is the people who do that type of music, the public wont support them.We dont do s**t but talk and support the people who treat us like s**t. You repay us by purchasing our music. But we see that all the time. Look at the families of Malcolm X and Tupac. They should be financially rich beyond belief for all that theyve done for us but theyre not and everyone continues to eat off their legacies.
Every artist thats a real artist is crazier than a motherf**ker, all of them. Something aint right with me, Wayne, TIP, T-Pain, and 50.
Andre 3000? Loony as a bat. But thats the blessing.
AllHipHop.com: How did the mixtape (The Greatest Mixtape Ever Sold) with Whoo Kid come about?Banner: Whoo Kid is a funny motherf**ker. Weve been cool for a minute since I had went on tour with 50 about three years ago. I dont know if you heard the mixtape, but he put his foot in that s**t. Like your grandma from Mississippi does when shes making gumbo. I got Chris Brown on there. People are gonna be surprised at the partnerships Ive had that Im finally showcasing.AllHipHop.com: As an artist closely tied to the people, how much does that weigh on you when youre making music since your constantly keeping their struggles in mind?Banner: Every artist thats a real artist is crazier than a motherf**ker, all of them. Something aint right with me, Wayne, TIP, T-Pain, and 50. Andre 3000? Loony as a bat. But thats the blessing. Its Ying and Yang. God blesses us to think on a different frequency and to act on it. And its not just in music, it registers in all facets of your life.I wish I could make records like Eminem and Andre 3000, but if you dont have Jimmy Iovine or LA Reid behind your project that s**t is gonna fail unless you push that s**t on n****s.People fronted (on the first single) Get Like Me (Stuntin Is a Habit) until people like Big Von (KMEL), Stan Branson (JMI), Leo and Ms. Kitty (XM Radio) got on it. People say they want something different but they dont support nothing different until it becomes mainstream.AllHipHop.com: Do you feel that the tension that existed between the East and Southern Hip-Hop fans has finally cooled off?
A southern rapper has never really gotten true credit for being a lyricist unless a New York rapper said it. People started accepting Wayne when Jay-Z said he was dope. Same thing with T.I. It happened to me with Nas. Nah, dont filter me through another n***a. Accept me for doing dope for me.
Banner: A lot of times it take a New York n***a to say some s**t is hot before we say, Oh its hot. N****s heard me on that Nas record (Middle Finger U) and all of sudden its, Oh David Banners rapping and political now. N***a I been political! That verse I spit on 9MM, if Biggie wouldve said it itd be a Hip-Hop quotable. But it takes me to get on a record with somebody from New York before yall will hear or listen to it.Think about it. A southern rapper has never really gotten true credit for being a lyricist unless a New York rapper said it. People started accepting Wayne when Jay-Z said he was dope. Same thing with T.I. It happened to me with Nas. Nah, dont filter me through another n***a. Accept me for doing dope for me.Why havent Andre 3000, Bun B, and Twista gotten their proper credit? Why are Scarface, 8Ball, and MJG not in the top 10? AllHipHop.com: Now that the album is finished, have you been able to relax? Or does the fact that you say Hip-Hop fans dont support different styles of music cause anxiety and resentment?Banner: Man, I dont give a f**k anymore. With (my last album) Certified, that s**t almost ran me crazy. I went through a really bad depression. I just knew that that album was the one. But that also showed that God was telling me, I tell you whats the one, not you.I did the best that I can and for the first time Im proud of myself. If they accept it, great. But I know what the world is about. I know the world is a bunch of f**king hypocrites. Look at Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, and Andre 3000. White folks will jump on us and give us our praise first. I want my people to love me, but who have we shown that kinda love to before they died?