Tuesday, September 12, 2006

David Banner Review

David Banner
Mississippi: The Album
Universal, 2003

For Fans of: Crunk, Lil’ Jon, guys who yell a lot.

I’m not sure how I ended up having this in my possession. For one thing, it’s crunk, and I don’t like crunk. For those of you unfamiliar with that genre, it’s derived from “crazy drunk” and is basically simple, aggressive hip-hop designed to make people go nuts at the club. Lil’ Jon? “Hey! What!!!?” Ringing any bells?

Second, Mr. Banner (in a name derived from the TV Incredible Hulk, who was for whatever reason named David, not Bruce) spends a lot of the album dissing women folk and just being an all-around ornery old bastard. For example, on the aptly titled “Fuck Them Niggaz”, he yells:

“What this hoe really wan' do? fuck or suck the stick
Like ooh, don't fuck me naw nigga, I'll fuck you
Two, three in your face till you're blue - black
Would you fuck her wit a jack top man?
I'll shoot ya in your back like BLAT BLAT BLAT!!”

Ahhh, romance. This followed up with a screamed chorus of “Them niggaz wanna hate? Fuck them niggaz!!”

It would be totally horrible and unlistenable, only it has got such a good beat. Granted, it’s a beat that hits you upside the head and leaves you with a migrane, but still. Banner’s agro tracks have the same quality that makes grindcore and powerviolence bearable –it’s so aggressive and pummeling that it ends up just sort of numbing you.

On the Lil’ Jon produced “Might Getcha”, Jon lays down a booming beat over a tinkling music box riff, which contrasts nicely with the verbal ass-kicking the song delivers:

“Might Getcha jaw broke
Might Getcha wig split
Might Getch car shot up
Might Getcha door kicked
Might Getcha kidnapped
Might Getcha neck snapped
Might Getcha your feelings hurt thinking this is just a rap”

So I hate crunk, but dammit if I don’t kind of like Banner’s stuff. It’s just so…I dunno. Aggro yet more.

If it was just a bunch of screamy songs, it would get old quick. However, Mississippi’s real strength is in its mellower, more reflective tracks, most of which are built around acoustic guitar riffs. Banner seems to hate just about everyone (except God), but at least he’s got a reason: “We from a place where my soul can’t be free/cuz a [Confederate] flag means more than me,” he declares on “Mississippi”, giving the listener an idea of just how fucked up and shitty it must feel to live somewhere where people still actively romanticize a period of history when your ancestors were treated like 3/5 a person.

“Caddilac on 22’s” follows in the slower, more thoughtful vein. The real gem is hidden track 19, “Fire Fallin’” . It’s downright pretty, almost like a mournful hip-hop spiritual. Serious.

In the end, Mississippi: The Album is a little too mean spirited (“There’s a bitch up in the club that I want to beat up/ Point that bitch out!”) and a little too noisy for me to fall in love with it. Still, even though it’s obviously not my thing, I couldn’t help being impressed by Banner’s ability to be both insightful and offensive at the same time. Maybe he’ll get older and mellower and stop making songs about how much he hates women. Then he’d be fucking awesome.

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