David Banner Reveals His Favorite Collaborative Albums
David Banner knows a thing or two about buzz-heavy collaborative projects. The Mississippi-born rapper, producer and political activist is set to release his much talked-about team-up with fellow acclaimed beat man 9th Wonder for ‘Death of a Pop Star.’ For Banner, who has made his mark on the hip-hop landscape with a mix of two-fisted street tracks and socially conscious statements on such works as ‘Mississippi: The Album’ (2003); ‘MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water’ (2003); ‘Certified’ (2005); and ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ (2008), ‘Death of a Pop Star’ was a labor of love.
“Artists today are afraid to be themselves,” Banner tells The BoomBox of the current music scene. “If killing dogs in the ‘hood was hot, that’s all the labels would put out. If wearing a pink leotard was hot, that’s all artists would wear. 9th Wonder and I are trying to show that you don’t have to go with the crowd. Even if we have to take an ‘L’ on our music commercially, we have to take chances.”
With ‘Death of a Pop Star’ set for release on Nov. 9, The BoomBox asked David Banner to break down his three favorite collaboration albums of all-time. Take notes, after the jump.
Gnarls Barkley, ‘St. Elsewhere’ (2006)
“What this album did for, just being a super fan of Cee Lo, is allowed him to be seen in another light, similar to what ‘Death of a Pop Star’ is doing for me. Working with Danger Mouse allowed Cee Lo to be free as an artist; to be able to just sing or just do chamber music if he wants to. One of the most negative things about rap music now is that everybody wants to fit into this gangsta box instead of just being artists. If you gangsta that’s not something you have to talk about … it’s something that you just are. ‘St. Elsewhere’ allowed Cee Lo to be free and it also allowed the rap community to take our music somewhere else. Believe it or not Americans think that everything we do is the best s— in the world, but a lot of people overseas don’t always check for it. So what Cee Lo and Danger Mouse did was give us a wider range … it allowed urban music to be worldwide. ‘Crazy’ was on the radio all day … and that s— was dope.
But I just wish the ‘hood was more accepting of artists like Cee Lo. Just look at what is happening with B.o.B I think he’s one of the most talented people of the new generation of rap. But our folks are not listening to B.o.B, just like they were not listening to Gnarls Barkley. Why is it when an artist goes against the grain they are categorized as alternative? I just want people to support music because it’s good not because it’s from the south or the west or the east or it’s techno or rock. We need more albums like ‘St. Elsewhere.”
“This is when Wayne started coming into own as a rapper. He was shaking people up with his new rhyme style on a creative level. But Birdman was still Birdman. He was still catering to exactly what those original Cash Money fans really like. Wayne was bringing in something new and fresh Baby had that consistency that he always had. ‘Stuntin’ Like My Daddy’ captures that energy. It came off a little like Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Andre would give you something space age and Big Boi would bring it right back to the Trap in Atlanta. I think ‘Like Father Like Son’ did that.”
“You have Jay-Z and R. Kelly … just put a period behind that [laughs]. What else do you need for a hit album? They were both at the top of their games. If it was yesterday or five years from now, it would still be a big album because you are dealing with two huge acts. You can theorize all you want to or come up with great concepts when putting together an album like ‘Best of Both Worlds.’ But really, you could have had Jay talking over a click track and R. Kelly going ‘baba boo … baba boo’ [laughs]. They could have gone platinum just off of that. S—, what else can you say?”