Good Morning, to all of you. I’m sure that you’re wondering why I called you here today. I look out into the crowd and I see the best soldiers that ‘The South’ has to offer. Lil’ Jon is here; Ludacris is here; The Outkast is here; Scarface is here; Uncle Luke is here, and so many others. I am not here in hopes to become the new leader of our Southern Urban Military Unit. But, I am here to remind you of what’s at stake.
Let us not lose focus of our past, our present, and what could be, “One of the greatest futures in Hip Hop Music’s history”. Let us end the fighting, the jealousy, and the separated gestures that are going on between us. Let us not lose track of our accomplishments, or who we are as a people. Let us not over saturate our visions, our work ethic, or our hospitality for the sake of the almighty dollar. It is us, who currently hold the torch. And we will give hell to anyone who tries to take this torch away from us. We are strength… we are ingenuity… we are hope… we are, “Certified”!!!
The speech that you’ve just read was something that I could imagine Mississippi’s lyrical/production trailblazer, David Banner expressing before his southern counterparts. This was one conversation that I wish each and every person who reads it, was there to hear it with their own ears. There is no way in the world that the expressions of Mr. Banner should ever be transcribed, because his passion for music and for ‘The South’ can not be depicted in mere words to be read. After bumping into David in the hallway, literally, we sat down for an amazing conversation.
What comes first for you… the verses or the instrumental?
It changes every time. It depends on the vibe of that day. Because to me, music is a spirit; you got to follow that spirit. Sometimes it’s all about what I can get to first, whether it’s the pen or the machine.
You’ve most likely answered this quaestion a million times already, but we need to know as well… why did you title your new album, “Certified”?
In my heart, I wanted this album to certify ‘The South’ as well as myself, in the aspect of being here forever now. I wanted to show how serious we are about our business, and our music. The whole demeanor of ‘the South’ is so much more than how others market it. People on the outside, often want for us to fulfill their visions of how ‘the South’ should be. But it’s up to us, and only us, to certify our movement.
What will fans of your music receive from “Certified” that they didn’t gain from ‘Mississippi – The Album’?
They will receive a different part of me in this album. I’ve heard people say that, “this album (Certified) isn’t David Banner.” Those people were just trying to put me in a box. They really didn’t know me as a full person. There is a lot more to me than what people gained from the Mississippi album. I feel like with the first album, I made the mistake of moving a lil’ bit too fast for people. “Certified” will help to show everyone my entire self.
Walk us through the studio creation of your first single, “Ain’t Got Nothing”.
It’s crazy, because every song on this album is a concept. Usually, I’ll sit in the studio and whatever I come up with, that’s it. But now, I sat down and said, “Let me make a song (Ain’t Got Nothing) for my people in Louisiana, because I spent 7 years in Baton Rouge.” Let me go and get Lil’ Boosie and Magic. Let me make a beat that I know that my people from Louisiana will ride to. So before I made the verse and did the beat, I knew exactly what I wanted the song to be like. A perfect example is the song that I did with Twista (the name of the song is, On Everything). I said to myself, “How dope would it be, to have a song with Twista, rapping fast as fuck, lyric for lyric, verse for verse…” And we made that happen. Yal’ are going to love that.
Did coming up in Jackson, Mississippi, and growing up to be a politically driven soul, come hand in hand for you?
I think that it depends on how you take adversity. People take adversity in different ways. Some people buckle under adversity. Some people become stronger from adversity. Some people handle adversity by returning the pain that was handed to them. It just depends on what kind of spirit you were given. It’s nature vs. nurture. For me, I took the pain and internalized it. From there, I decided that I wanted to do something about it.
During the 2004 Election, you played a huge role as the voice of Mississippi as well as the South, when you took on the VJ role for Mtv during an election where the ultimate result wasn’t achieved, but the youth came out in astounding numbers to represent their generation in the voting booths. What do you remember the most about that experience?
Smelling weed at the polls. That let me know that I was accomplishing something. Whenever you can smell weed, 9 times out of 10, you know someone that is smoking isn’t going to come out and vote; they got the munchies, they’re going to get something to eat. To really smell that weed; to see people who you didn’t think was old enough to vote, or you didn’t think cared at all about the system come straight off the block was powerful. People have a very stereotypical view of who should vote. Unless you’re a convicted felon, you have the right to vote.
There were a lot of things that were happening during the election that wasn’t right in the voting process, but we showed the world that WE CAN STAND. What I want for people to know more than everything else is that, usually when you do something for the first time, it’s not going to work. It’s just the first election. We can’t just put all of our marbles in one bag and say that since it didn’t work, we’re not going to do it anymore. I’m proud that we even had the initiative to stand up.
I’ll even tell you what I got out of the situation. I can be an analyst on ESPN; I can be an anchor on CNN. I was very proud of myself. I didn’t know that I had it in me. Just to say, “This is David Banner reporting live for MTV”, and to be able to do it in such a professional way, on behalf of our hoods was a blessing.
What do you love about rap music at this present time?
The opportunities… there are black men and women in power in this industry. Perfect example, it is now possible to see a 50 Cent go head to head with Donald Trump in a business meeting. In normal situations, you’ll never be able to see that. This is beyond the verses and beats. This is a business, and through Hip Hop, we are given the opportunity to compete.
Continued.. David Banner
What one question that you have been asked multiple times is really getting on your last nerve right now?
Who are you beefing with… I hate that shit, man. It’s like; we’re grown ass men and women, dude. People are selling their soul for money, dude. It’s funny; one of my business partners came to me and said, “The only thing that you are missing is exposure. Let me be honest with you, being positive is not going to give you exposure. You need to go out there and slap somebody or shoot at somebody.” I did a freestyle over Kanye’ West beat on my mixtape, and the first thing somebody said was, “He’s beefing with Kanye’.” It’s sad… you can’t rap over beats anymore without somebody trying to instigate something. Everybody’s name is associated with some word now. It’s a show of ignorance. What pisses me off is that people act like they want positive music, but they really don’t; everybody wants blood.
That’s why I enjoy traveling abroad. I remember being in Canada watching the news, and it just felt good. It wasn’t so negative. There was like one shooting on the entire program. Other than that, they were talking about a hippopotamus being born in the zoo, or some shit. Americans are all about the WWE right now; all about the drama. I’m tired of that shit.
How would a day without music be like for you?
I’d probably be dead. It would be like a day of death without music. It’s crazy, because when I get home, I don’t want to talk about music. I feel like the best way to make great music, is to get away from it. That’s why I believe that this album is so good. One of the reasons why my music just happens to be so diverse is because I choose to listen to other stuff. You can only get so much (musically) from people your age. I listened to Bjork, The Police, Nina Simone, etc.
Any last words for our readers?
Anyone who has bought a David Banner CD, or who will by a David Banner CD, and anybody who took the time out to read this article, I really appreciated it and I just want to say thank you. I see that there are a lot of rappers who feel like they deserve the accolades that they get. It’s a blessing that a person would want to spend their hard earned money on my music. I’m just amazed that I can get paid to do something that I love so much, and at the same time, it’s so fucking stressful. Yet in the end, “It ain’t nothing but a motherfucking song”.