Interview: David Banner
Fri, 01 Aug 2008 14:00:15
Track-to-track, you never know which David Banner you might meet. He might sex you up, he might bust your head or you might end up taking notes at his lecture. On the other hand, you know exactly who you're going to meet when you great him face-to-face. A straight shooter who's brave enough to be as honest about the world he lives in as he is about the world that lives in him.
Having just released The Greatest Story Ever Told, Banner is getting the chance to take his urban griot show on the road, backed by his posse of personality traits. We spoke to the dynamic Mississippi native as he was riding high before a recent show in Los Angeles. He spit real talk on parental guidance, rap beef and the purpose of his pain.
Naming your album The Greatest Story Ever Told was kind of bold. What were you trying to say with that?
I am the shit. Look at me! [laughs] Honestly, the album comes from my life story. I don't come from a major city. I didn't have Jimmy Iovine backing me. I don't know anybody in the rap game whose story is more captivating than mine. From being homeless and sleeping on the floor in Atlanta, to selling my records on corners hand-to-hand, to my father dieing last year, to being fucked over by the industry, to defending hip hop in front of Congress—that ain't shit that regular rappers can say they do. So the title isn't just talking about the album, it's talking about the man behind the album. People didn't always acknowledge my shit cause I didn't. Now I do. It's not too many people who can balance the lines of spirituality but still give you a hit song like "Stunting is a Habit."
What's the underlying message of this album? What are you trying to get the people to understand?
I think one of the problems in black music is that we try to make our music emulate our lives so much. Everybody tries to keep shit so real, but it's just a song. At the end of the day, the type of man that I am has nothing to do with the type of album that I make. That's the way that society tries to put us in the box—by making us sound so real. Then when we go to court, they can point a finger at the songs and say, "Look, you said you're so real. Now we can convict you based on what you say." The type of man that I am can't help but be reflected in my albums to a certain degree because I am a strong man—but music is music. They don't try to make Denzel Washington stick to the things he does in his movie roles. They don't hold Martin Scorsese to every script that he writes or every movie he directs or produces. This is a damn good album. I honestly think it's one of the best rap albums in the last 3-4 years. I think people are going to do themselves a detriment if they don't acknowledge it.
Do you ever pay attention to what's being said about your music on the Internet? Specifically people commenting on the long wait between your last album and this one?
I read some of that shit, but most people who talk shit on the Internet don't have the background to say the shit that they say. Who are they? What gives them the right? I talk about Mantronics and Stetsosonic, and they're like, "who?" Some motherfuckers don't even know who Run DMC is. I take it like a carrot—I might eat it, I might put it on my finger. [laughs] I care, and I don't care. I took time off. I thought that's what an artist was supposed to do. That's why you've got so many wack ass albums. If you're putting out two albums a year, what have you lived? What have you experienced that would make me want to listen to what you're saying? I think it's a blessing I took the time off. Let people miss you a little bit; let people breathe.
You talk about the importance of the truth, and it's one of the reasons fans connect with you, but people are being lied to everyday by politicians, the media and their peers. Besides someone like you, where are people supposed to turn to for the truth?
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