David Banner & 9th Wonder, Death Of A Pop Star Album Review
David Banner journeys to the opposite end of the Rap-o-sphere on his fifth studio album. Where every album prior showcased the Mississippi emcee’s skills behind the mic and the boards, he hands production duties over to 9th Wonder this time out, allowing the North Carolina beat-miner to craft the score to the spaceship ride that is Death Of A Pop Star.
It only takes 30 minutes for Banner to completely redefine his lyrical reputation. He’s always been a skillfully aggressive rapper, but hearing him relentlessly attack track after track with varying styles and levels of introspection -- dropping dime after dime like Hugh Hefner -- over 9th’s snare heavy, east coast sound is the truest testament to his range as a rapper yet seen.
His suicidal thoughts speak for the millions still suffering through the current Great Recession on “Diamonds On My Pinky”. “Dreams of screaming demons hearing death whisper 'Hello' / My shell’s strong / My soul is Green Lantern wearing yellow / Hella weak," he raps over the album opener’s haunting choir and charging bass line, then closing the song with six of the year’s realest bars:
“Bang / It’s the same damn thang / The Boys Clubs are closing while they building PF Chang’s / Look it at your pinky ring / It got souls on it man...But I’m from Mississippi where you let your nuts hang / And where the white folks let my ancestors do the same”
It’s an awesome verse, really. One of many that shapes Death of A Pop Star’s beautiful struggle motif. The rich, soulful production feels celebratory throughout, while the weighty, visceral content fosters introspection, demanding repeated listens. “The richer that you get the more you turn away from God / And the poorer that you are the more you steal because it’s hard / We hope for the precious like Smeagol living regal,” Banner kicks Redman style on “No Denying (Channel 3)” . 9th’s emphatic organs and electronic blips on “The Light” are raucous enough to incite a riot while lines like “Yeah they twisted religion / Made Satan a Christian / Gave us Barack Obama, then we fell off the mission” are enough to incite a riot for a cause.
“Something Is Wrong” (featuring Lisa Ivey) is sonically generic, but Banner’s vivid depiction of a conversation with a homosexual is simultaneously gut wrenching and enlightening -- the type of verse that opens minds through it’s visceral honesty.
“Women playing men but why do men play women? / I saw one in Ugg boots and real tight denims / Man, he had Apple Bottoms on / So I walked over to him and asked ‘what’s wrong?’...He said ‘David Banner I remember when he raped me / Taped me to the bed / Binded both legs / I blanked out and woke up in a pool of red / Changed my whole world / I guess my stepdad thought that I should’ve been a girl’”
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