Anyone who attended Southern University & A&M College within the past two decades probably understands the legend of David Banner. This wasn’t the same person who became a hit maker more known for singles including “Like A Pimp” or “Play.” Matter of fact, his star turning roles in films including Black Snake Moan and The Butler are just footnotes. Anyone representing that Blue and Gold remembers him as former Student Government Association Lavell Crump, the man who dared defy the administration whenever they were out of line for misappropriating funds besides other controversies. Make sense why his music has mainly focused on the duality of blackness. For every club banger eventually becoming hit singles Banner churned out, tracks like “Cadillac on 22’s” and “Evil Kinevil” featuring Ernestine Johnson display a very conscious emcee attuned to his surroundings. I guess Southern has that effect on black men and women. That’s even extended to him even joining Master P for a congressional hearing on violence and misogyny in Hip Hop where he once proclaimed “Hip Hop is sick because America is sick.”
Growing older, he leans more into a heightened political attitude. That’s been more reflected in his last few projects in 2010’s collaborative album with 9th Wonder Death Of A Pop Star and his 2012 mixtape Sex, Drugs and Video Games. For his upcoming project God Box, he’s become a lot more outspoken about his inner thoughts. From liking integration to slavery to questioning the usage of the N-word by white and biracial rappers, Banner is speaking his truth in the same manner he’s been doing since his time at Southern. As most rap fans spend time debating Southern Rap’s allegedly “negative” effect on Hip Hop, he’s served as the antithesis to those negative stereotypes since his introduction.
Speaking with DX, the Mississippi emcee/producer talks his latest God Box single “Marry Me,” being banned from Southern at one point and the Spring Valley High School video.
David Banner Explains Being Banned From Southern University For Ten Years
DX: Quite the honor speaking with you today. I’m actually Southern alumni.
David Banner: Awww shit!!
DX: Literally my freshman year there, you performed during my first homecoming concert. You came into the crowd and was carrying this random chick on your shoulders. That night was lit.
David Banner: Yeah man, that was me.
DX: Remember working at Southern’s paper and everyone talking about how legendary you were as SGA president.
David Banner: I was definitely SGA president and that was when I went off on Southern because you know I was banned for ten years.
DX: I remember seeing news stories about the ban being lifted earlier this year. How exactly did you get banned in the first place? I’ve heard conflicting stories.
David Banner: It was over something I didn’t even do. It happened around the time “Like A Pimp” came out. You know it was like at the top of the charts. One of the cats from the radio station — I believe it was in Clinton, Louisiana or right outside of Baker, Louisiana. The kids had just got home from school. You know how back in the day, those radio trucks use to give out free stuff. The kids attacked the truck and all of a sudden, it was like 20 or 30 of them. Dude so happened to be listening to my CD personally. It was like on some personal stuff, there wasn’t any promo. He was playing the dirty version. He started throwing stuff out of the truck so they could move out of the way. When the news and the police came, because it was almost like a little riot, the first CD the kids had held up was my CD. I didn’t have anything to do with that. Even if that was the case, I didn’t do it. But, the thing that people didn’t know was that I was a revolutionary president. Southern didn’t like me anyway. People also don’t know that I got Southern audited. That was the last thing I did as SGA president. The administration wasn’t too happy with that.
David Banner Says Hopes “Marry Me” Will Help Mend The Strained Relationship Between Black Men and Black Women
DX: Yeah, that sounds about right. Moving on to your latest single “Marry Me” featuring Rudy Currence, you don’t hear that too much in Hip Hop nowadays about the institution of marriage. It’s a 180 from the “Uzi” joint you dropped with Big K.R.I.T. some time ago.
David Banner: I realized something. No matter how hard we try to revolutionize our people, we won’t be able to do it until we mend our relationship with our women. It started from slavery and breaking apart the black family. We’re still seeing the residual effects of that today. People talk about the state of the black family but, that was a part of the scientific experiment white people ran on us and it worked. Before we can move forward to combat anything that happens in our communities from crooked ass cops to racist white folks, we have to mend our relationships with our family. If you look at the world from the perspective of The Rothschild, Kennedys or The Bush family, power in the United States or the world is established through families. The mob is usually tied to one family. If we’re going to move forward as a race, we’re going to have to mend the relationship with our women. When we talk about selling dope, it’s about selling dope to black folks. When we talk about pimping women, we’re talking about pimping black women. Our mothers, daughters and sisters. When we say nigger, we’re talking about black men. For the most part, we’re the only race of people who outwardly do that. We have to stop doing that. And the thing is, I can’t criticize anyone else until I learn how to do it correctly. Even though I know I have one of the most jamming albums in Hip Hop history, whether you like it or not, that’s not the reason you should buy it. The reason why you should buy it is because of the content. Now I know it’s jamming because I’m never going to sell anything that’s wack. I produce for a living. It’s about the concept.
For me, “Marry Me” was necessary. I’ve been an example of the things I talk about. For my spirit and my soul, I had to make it up to our women too. No, “ Real girls get down on the floor.”
I’m serious. I had to make amends. I had to do something.
DX: Interesting you say that as it’s been ten years since you dropped Certified which seemed like the perfect balance of your more club friendly joints and political tracks. “Play” was a humongous hit but the album already featured “Ridin” with Talib Kweli and Dead Prez.
David Banner: You know what bro, let me tell you something. I’m so happy and so proud that you said that. Let me tell you why. People act like I bumped my head and started speaking what I’m speaking now all of a sudden. I’ve been had records like that from my first album like “Bush” and “Mississippi.” I had all of those songs but, people didn’t listen to them. People only heard the singles and what society gives them. So, the fact that you said that makes me feel so good cause, I tell people that all the time besides the anger, alcohol and sex. I’ve been talking about this for years. People just don’t want to pay attention to it. Too $hort said something in an interview, “I talk about the president and what’s going on in the ghetto but, people seem to only remember the word bitch.”
DX: Is that the nature of people today being more attracted to degeneracy than important issues?
David Banner: I think America has always been that way. With society needing social media more and everybody being online now, they’re able to compartmentalize us a little bit better. They can control what we listen to by looking to what we’re listening to it. We don’t control music at all anymore at all. Where do black people control music unless it’s for free? Free doesn’t count. To be honest, black women have maintained my career. I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for black women. I know dudes who don’t mess with me like that and I’m cool with it. Black women are my consumers and they have helped maintain my career. A partner of mine had said something interesting to me. He said, “these women love you and you not even talking to them. You don’t engage your consumer base.” Think about it and this changed my life. Guess who influenced “Marry Me?”
David Banner: 9th Wonder
David Banner: 9th Wonder said that most of the people in Hip Hop who influence artists are over 35. I’m talking about people who really move the needle. They’re over 35 but, they still rap about kid stuff or kid situations. They’re still talking about dope, still talking about pimping and still talking about weed when they really don’t do that in their real life. They’re fathers more worried about their daughter getting screwed at prom.
David Banner: I’m serious. They’re worried about their sons getting targeted by the police while they’re driving cause their sons are turning 16, 17 or 18-years-old. Why aren’t we talking about that? Everybody wants to talk about keeping it 100 but, won’t talk about real life stuff. I was like, “damn 9th, I’ve never thought about it like that.” We’re grown, where is the grown music? I’m not saying don’t party anymore or even criticizing the hustle. Do what you do. However, we have to recognize who we’re hustling. To be 100, you go to church on Sunday. Can I get one song about that? You got a daughter that you love. Can I get one song about that? One of my really good friends, I saw him before 106 & Park shut down. He was sitting there telling young kids to get drunk and have sex. I understand kids talking to other kids about that but, not grown adults. This dude had to be 45. He looks young but, I know exactly how old he is. I’m like, they brainwashed us and we’re doing the work. We’re doing the work for the man. So, white supremacy has really run a hold on our people and we’re not acknowledging it.
A woman told me one time that even if I wasn’t telling the truth, you had to feel it. She was like the fact that two grown men even thought of these words. You know my assistant called me crying telling me how she had given up on the institution of marriage. To be able to love on our women and not do it in a weak way. I’m a grown ass man with guns and that hasn’t changed. I still like to fight and all of those other things. I’m just meditating with it and run to be a man women feel protected around. You can have people who are males but not men. To stand up with strength and tell our women that we love them; especially when we’re dealing with dark skinned women. They make our dark-skinned women feel so unprotected. The world makes them feel unloved and unwanted. Maybe I shouldn’t say that in this interview but, when I wrote “Marry Me,” that’s who I was writing it to. Know that I love you if nobody else does and I mean that. I want my children to be dark skinned and I want them to feel loved. I mean that generally for all black women but, specifically for dark skinned women.
“All These Fucking Gangster Rappers; Where Are You Now When These White Folks Are Beating Up On Our Women?”
DX: It’s interesting you talk about protecting black women when this week’s biggest news involved the young girl caught on tape being manhandled by an officer at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina.
David Banner: Let me be honest with you brother and make sure you leave this in. Don’t edit this out. The truth is this: White folks have historically always been this way toward black people since we came over here on those boats. They control the media so, they’ll never make their sons or daughters look like criminals. It’s just always been this way. The difference is now, we have cameras. And now, they’re trying to enact laws against filming cops. We have to stop acting like this is something new. We have to stop acting like these are one-offs or a one-time situation. We have to start connecting these cases. To black men, we always say if that’s my daughter. It is your daughter. They’re showing you what they would do to your daughter. Stop talking and start doing something. White Supremacy only respects two things: the loss of life or the threat of losing life and the loss of money or the threat of losing money. If a black person kills another black person, they go to their house and kill everyone in the house. If a white person kills another black person or, hurt a black girl, all we do is march. Black parents do something to them, we get 100 years in jail. When a white person does something, we have to forgive them or let God handle it. No, God gave you the power to handle it.
I was working on a case in Mississippi and we were going to go hard. Then, the mother said let’s forgive him. Come on man. We’re going to keep going through this over and over until we do something or until we as a race stop being cowards. Stop talking about it and do something. Everybody has been waiting on me to speak. For what? We didn’t finish Emmett Till, Michael Brown or Oscar Grant. The system may have ran its course but, we’re always jumping back and forth. We always want to make a new tagline or hashtag. What the fuck are we going to do? I’m speaking to the men. It’s our responsibility to protect our women and our children. I’m trying to stop cursing but, I just feel so strongly about this. All these fucking gangster rappers; where are you now when these white folks are beating up on our women? We’ll kill each other over dope that white folks gave us. Just keeping it 100. You represent the hood, what are you going to do? It’s fucking cowardly homie.
DX: How do you plan on reflecting this mindset on The God Box?
David Banner: We expect the system that we criticize to support conscious music. We expect those who are not conscious, to support conscious music? That’s not rational. That doesn’t add up. Those of us who want better have to support better. What I’m saying is that if you really support what I’m doing or you support the movement, buy “Marry Me” five times and give it to your friends. We have to support us. I’m blessed to have a crew that hustles but, all I do is make dope music. I know it’s jamming. I have one of the dopest albums. You can talk about conscious music and better music but, it’s here now. What are you going to do about it? We talk about conscious music but as soon as we go to the club, we’re turnt. People don’t want better music because if they did, they’d buy it. You’d talk about it or be more aggressive about it. I need people to be as serious about The God Box as they are with music where we socially degrade ourselves. People say that men don’t respect women, so here you go with “Marry Me.” What’s the excuse now? That’s what I need. I need people to outwardly be aggressive and support it because it’s jamming. For me man, The God Box is light. People try to call it conscious rap and try to put it in a box but, it’s just jamming. I’m continually trying to walk down a road of consciousness. If you pimping all the days of your life, then you’re going to have nothing but pimping. If you go to church all the days of your life, you’re going to talk about the church. The God Box just is.