David Banner Interview

David Banner
Artist:David Banner
Label:b.i.G. f.a.c.e.
Next Project:Greatest Story Ever Told
Twitter:David Banner on Twitter
Website:David Banner's Website

With a new album on the horizon, David Banner has an exciting career related milestone ahead of him; the release of “Greatest Story Ever Told,” will mark Banner’s fourth major label release.  And although his craft is near and dear to his heart, the face of America and its growing problems – one of which includes the constant assault on hip hop culture – are just as important to the Mississippi-born rapper and producer. 

During an interview with DJBooth’s DJZ,” David provocatively expresses a plethora of legitimate questions that most people in his position are not willing to publicly verbalize. 

In detail Banner explains his attack on Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, his frustration with the current situation in Jena, Texas, and the reason why his label, Universal Music, isn’t a place where artists can be musically creative.

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David Banner Interview Transcription

DJ Booth:  What’s goin’ on, y’all?  It’s your boy ‘Z,’ doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an artist/producer who is just as proud of his musical achievements as he is of his humanitarian efforts.  A man who has come to the rescue of both hip hop and those affected by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, please welcome my main man, David Banner.  How you doin’?

David Banner:  What’s happenin’?  Everything’s wonderful, man, what’s crackin’?

DJ Booth:  What’s crackin’ is your brand new music in my stereo.  When we spoke before you released your last album, “Certified,” you said, “I’m working on one of the best albums in hip hop history.”  Do you feel the same way going into “The Greatest Story Ever Told?”

David Banner:  I feel a little bit better.  One thing that I’ve been able to figure out is that, with “Certified” I think I’ve become a better businessman.  I’ve realized it’s a whole lot more than just about music – as a matter of fact, I’m findin’ out in the day and age that we’re in now, music is probably the least most important.  I had something that came to my attention today when I was takin’ a shower, and I guess you’re the first person who I’m tellin’ it to, since you’re the first person I’ve talked to.  It’s amazing how America and the mass media says that they want young black men, and they want rappers, and entertainers to act better, but have you ever noticed that the people that stir up the most sh*t are the ones that get the most shine?  Actually, a lot of magazines – I know one in particular, won’t put you on their cover unless you been causin’ some kind of trouble.  It’s crazy, because even in rap the first thing somebody asks you when a new artist come out is, “Who he beefin’ with?”  “Who he got a problem with?”  And it’s crazy that we’re sort of pushin’ our kids to madness and that’s what they think is important now.

DJ Booth:  Understandably.  Just recently, David, you decided to join the fight against all of these ‘hip hop haters,’ most notably Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, defending the usage of whatever language you as an artist and your fellow industry mates want to write about.  Most artists create this type of firestorm to start controversy, and move units for their upcoming release.  I know your motives, though, are different.  So put into perspective the importance of the pleas that you’ve been making.

David Banner:  The people that are most interested in, or who would be affected by, me goin’ on Jesse Jackson, probably won’t buy records.  The truth is, though, the core part of our generation really don’t even know what’s goin’ on!  You know, it’s crazy – things like the attack on hip hop, Jena 6 – anything political our generation is not involved in it.  So from that perspective I’m not really gettin’ record sales from the stuff I do.  And the truthfully, regardless of how much we think it means something – when I did what I did for Katrina, did I get any record sales off of that?  Hell no. 

DJ Booth:  Entertainment writer Miki Turner said that you’re quick to mention how much money you lost by not promoting your last CD, “Certified,” because it fell just around the same time that Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.  Does a comment like that taint all of the good efforts that you’ve made?

David Banner:  If a comment can taint all the hard work and all of the positive things that I did, then maybe I didn’t do a good enough job in the first place.  It’s easy for somebody to sit behind a desk, and make them kinds of comments.  If you notice, at the beginning of her article, she said she didn’t even know who David Banner was until I made the comment about Al Sharpton.  So how dare she be able to make such powerful comments to change people’s idea about me and she don’t even know me?  And that’s my major gripe with all of the people in hip hop – how dare you make such heavy moves, that affect somebody’s livelihood, and affect the way that somebody eats, and you don’t even know them?  Dude, that’s ignorant!  How dare you have such strong opinions about something you don’t even like or somebody that you don’t know.  And if our people will allow someone who’s so ignorant, and who doesn’t have faith in our music to change or taint the way that they feel about somebody that they supposedly support, then I don’t want those kind of fans anyways. 

DJ Booth:  Do you find it interesting that the comments that this writer made in her article, are indicative of the problem that a lot of people have with hip hop in general?  They don’t really know enough to make a really educated judgment, but they go ahead and comment anyways…

David Banner:  That shows how irresponsible people are with the power that they have, and it just strengthens my argument even more.  But it’s so pitiful that somebody who has such power in something like MSNBC, would make comments like that.  That’s similar to the comments that Al Sharpton made.  Come on – that’s what a man of the cloth, that’s how you handle your power?  And that shows, how irresponsible our elders have been with the power that they have.  It’s so funny, that it strengthens my statement more and more, and anybody who’s intelligent, or anybody that’s just straight from the street that’s not blinded with bullsh*t will see that.

DJ Booth:  David, most of the politicians, religious figures and journalists who criticize you and your industry peers probably don’t know that, in your case, you are a well-educated college graduate.  Do you think if more rappers spoke of their education, or, in most cases, a desire to receive a higher education, the perception and the image of rap culture would change?

David Banner:  See, that’s the problem when we try to go out and speak to everybody but our own audience, and we end up losin’ our audience.  The truth is, I’m not a politician.  It’s not a war.  We have First Amendment rights.  What we have to understand, this attack against hip hop is so much bigger than rap, and that’s what we have to start doin’ as young people, is seein’ that it’s bigger than us.  You already see what’s goin’ on with Homeland Security.  You already see how people can tap your phones, go through your mail, and do all of these things – it’s so crazy how America is so quick to point a finger but we’re becoming more and more like Russia every day.  We talk about freeing Saudi Arabia from the type of leaders and the type of dictatorship that it has, but we’re turning more and more like that every day as Americans.  Rap music doesn’t kill anybody, and truthfully if you look statistically, the place that we grew up in are actually a little bit more safer than they were in the f*ckin’ ‘80s.  People are scared of black people, and I wish that they would just tell the truth and say what they mean – stop sayin’ hip hop and go and say “n*ggers.”  Say what you mean.  Stop using the guise of hip hop as an excuse not to say what you really feel: you’re scared of n*ggers!

DJ Booth:  David, do you think that with all the problems our country faces on a daily basis, including some that you’ve pointed out that we’re facing overseas, they choose to pick the battles that they have – is that ridiculous to you?

David Banner:  Yeah, it’s bullsh*t, and that’s exactly what I mean.  Dude there’s so many other problems – Jena 6, the young man that got killed comin’ outside his bachelor party, dude, the war – the fact that we kill kids each and every day in a war, that we are one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, and we can’t find sixteen, twenty people that we lookin’ for in this so-called Al Qaeda.  Come on – that’s bullsh*t!  And if you read any book of power, the best way to get people under your control is to make them fear something, to make them feel like they need control, or they need assistance – that’s bullsh*t!  But what’s gonna end up happening is America’s gonna lose its voice.  Every freedom, that the forefathers so-called fought for, they’re bein’ abolished every day.  That’s my criticism about Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Jackson.  And you choose to use your power to stop young black men from eatin’?  Come on, look at the jobs that we provide – look at Ice Cube.  Look at Will Smith.  Look at all of these people.  I make the analogy of sports.  Kids go straight to the league in baseball, or soccer, or whatever the hell they want to – tennis, that’s cool, you know what I’m sayin’?  But they wanna stop young black men from making money – they gotta go straight to college, it’s mandatory.  Then you turn around – you can clear the stands – if you in soccer or you in baseball and then hockey it’s even a part of the game, and that’s fine, but young black men fight while testosterone levels are high –, “It’s a tragedy.”  That’s always been the case.  It’s the same thing with Jena 6.  When people talked about what the young white kids did, makin’ the nooses, oh, that wasn’t a problem.  But then when the fight occurs because of that, then they’re gonna try to get the young black men for attempted manslaughter.  That’s bullsh*t!  And its overt racism and we are so caught up in tryin’ to be a part of a system that’s crooked.  We spend more time on rappers than we do on our president, or our congressmen!

DJ Booth:  David, the hypocrisies that you’re talking about – and I can tell that there’s a lot of energy and emotion in your voice – is this all going to be put together in the form of “The Greatest Story Ever Told?”  If someone picks up a copy of this, are they gonna hear you preaching?

David Banner:  Hell no – no, no no.  That used to be my problem.  The truth is, once again, my fans don’t want to hear that shit; they want to hear “Like a Pimp.”  They want to hear, “Play.”  ‘Cause what you gotta understand: I am only here because of “Like a Pimp.”  We can theorize, and we can talk about other sh*t, but the truth is, we have to cater to those who put in the position – and that’s similar to what America does.  America – we got owned by gangsta rap – so America says, because it does the same thing, as soon as we get on, oh now we gotta change up, switch up all our fans – I’m not gonna do it again.  I’m gonna stick to what got me hot, because the truth is, if I’m not hot, don’t nobody give a f*ck a bout what David Banner say anyway.

DJ Booth:  David Banner, as an artist, has always told stories through his music.  In addition to music, you recently stepped into the acting game; so you’re familiar with the arc of a movie script.  Does, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” unfold like a film, or individual but separate acts of a play?

David Banner:  “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” ain’t nothing but a bunch of hit records.  The truth is, I’m on Universal Records – they’re not gonna push nothing.  You need a hit f*cking record that’s gonna have legs on its own.

DJ Booth:  Does that mean we’re not gonna hear a song like “Cadillac on 22’s”?

David Banner:  Oh yeah, I mean I got a “Cadillac on 22’s,” but when you understand “Cadillac on 22’s,” it’s already proven that people like that.  That’s a hit on another level.  But as far as your “Crank It Up,” and tryin’ to do something that’s gonna be out of the mold of David Banner –go pick up “Black Snake Moan” if you want to see something creative.  I just don’t have the time, or the effort, because, number one, people talk about supporting new music, but if it don’t come from the people they expect it from, they not gonna buy that sh*t.  Eminem can do that sh*t, ‘cause he got Interscope behind him.  Outkast can do it ‘cause they got Jive behind them.  Other artists can do it ‘cause they got other people.  Me and Mannie Fresh was just talking about that – if you ain’t got a mogul behind you, or all the power of a label, then all that creative sh*t is not gonna happen.  It’s just not.  You’re gonna be just like a jazz artist – motherf*ckin’ sittin’ there by your motherf*ckin’ self.

DJ Booth:  Let’s talk about the label situation really quick.  Labels often shy away from releasing projects on the same day as other major label releases of the same genre, the exception, of course, being the recent Kanye versus 50 Cent showdown.  The end result of that head-to-head match was a banner – no pun intended – sales day for both artists, and the industry on the whole.  Do you think more competition between artists can actually help sales thrive once again?

David Banner:  I think it was good for that situation.  But again, you’re gonna start turnin’ rap into the WWF.  I hate that sh*t, dude.  I’m watchin’ them turn our music into a fiasco, and they gonna keep on doin’ that sh*t till somebody get killed.  They pittin’ black men against each other – it’s always a war, it’s always a beef, it’s always a drama.

DJ Booth:  Is there absolutely no way for competition to exist without it being forecasted as ‘beef’?

David Banner:  It can happen, but is that interesting?

DJ Booth:  That’s a good question.

David Banner:  The American public wants sex and violence, they want people to die.  It’s just the truth.  The more violent the sport, the more people want to see it.

DJ Booth:  Well, the problem is that a lot of people in a lot of high places are in denial, and that’s not gonna change any time soon.  So until it does…

David Banner:  I don’t think they’re in denial; I think they’re liars.  ‘Cause they know.  They’re not stupid.  My mama always taught me that: motherf*ckers act like they’re in denial and they don’t know – motherf*ckers, they know. [sigh] Wow…

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