There’s power in numbers and that’s something David Banner is going to be relying on from those wanting change in our present-day culture. No more taking advantage of artists as the veteran MC is tired of people in the industry being played as “characters in a video game” and not having full control of their work. That’s why on May 22, the Mississippi native –who says this is the best year in his whole entire life– is going to release a free independent album entitled Sex, Drugs, & Video Games featuring some of the biggest names in music such as Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg, Game, Big K.R.I.T and more. It’s a free download, but there’s also a tiny catch. Banner started this 2M1 movement with the confidence that two million people will download the album and the same two million will donate at least $1 to strengthen the movement of finally being in full control of your own work. The success of this project in what Banner calls, “Life and death” is something the industry and business leaders will keep an eye out for as this could bring on a new change in the way people handle their business strategies. Confident that the goal will be met, Banner’s going to shoot a movie that will drop on May 22, 2013 with a portion going to charity. Hearing Banner speak is somewhat motivational speaker-esque as he’s knowledgeable about the issues we face in our culture and is passionately working for change. He’s about to embark on a make-or-break project with all eyes on him and KarenCivil.com recently got the chance to catch up with Banner and talk about hip-hop’s landscape and its future.
Interview by Michael Nguyen
How are you?
Man, it’s the best year in my whole entire life.
Just the creation of this movement to be able to set up a structure of a business that could possible change the lives of other artists and to be able to do it with my own music. That’s wonderful and it lets met give something back while being creative. It’s great.
I want to start off with your latest track, Believe, featuring Big K.R.I.T. How important was it for you to get a Mississippi native on that record? As in do you think the song would’ve lost significance if K.R.I.T wasn’t on there?
It was actually wonderful. Even within that, to be able to start off with that. To be able to go back home to the place where it started and to be able to do it with K.R.I.T. His career is just starting to bud and you couldn’t ask for a better start. To be able to start something with someone you have a friendship with is amazing.
Doing that video was also big for your community. As much as they’ve influenced you, how much of an influence or inspiration do you think you had on them since the early days of Mississippi: The Album.
Well, it’s kind of narcissistic for me to say how I helped my community but I will say hopefully, I represented my people in a way that they can do it and you can do it your own way. There are stereotypical views of Mississippi and I hope to break those. For K.R.I.T to come after me and to be creative and be a producer and for us to have so many similar qualities, the positive aspects in Mississippi is great.
How did the community react after you dropped the music video for Believe?
Everybody was very touched. It really activated the artists as a whole and they really wanted to work, get together, and start. It was really wonderful and I just wanted to influence people in the same way with this movement I started. I want to influence artists to take their own reality in their hands and do the same thing. I want people in Mississippi to stand and be proud of where they came from.
Outside of your community, since you’re the veteran in the industry, do you see yourself in the position of a leader or mentor to the younger rap generation?
I believe that I am an example. Maybe at times, I try to be a great friend and I hope that shows leadership qualities. But what I will say is that I always wanted to show people to be proud of where they’re from, to be articulate, and smart about their business, movement or music. That’s the most important thing to me. I would love to be able to influence people and show them a better way of doing business, period, and being better men. I’ve made so many mistakes and through my accomplishments, I’ve learned from my mistakes. Hopefully I can teach people and lead them in a better direction.
Can you talk about some of those mistakes? What was it and how did you overcome it?
Being angry. We always feel just because we’re in the right, it’s okay to be angry. That’s not true. The best thing you can do in the music industry to get anybody back is to make a hit record. Once you’re angry, you lose control. That’s what I want to teach artists. From the streets, we were always taught to retaliate physically or talk about somebody or to stir negativity with negativity. I don’t believe that. If you’re a businessman, you’ve got to keep your business in tact and just be successful. That’s the best way to get back and make anything right. You just be successful and do the right thing.
Moving onto Sex Drugs and Video Games, this whole project is about creating a movement. But if you don’t reach your goal of 2 million, would you take that as a disappointment or failure?
There’s no way I’m not going to reach the goal. I don’t think in times of failure. I don’t even concede in not reaching my goal.
So it’s all about positivity?
Exactly. It’s all about positivity. I know I’m going to reach my goal. It’s not blind faith or anything like that. I’m willing to work hard enough to make it happen. If it doesn’t work sincerely through my people, then we have to find a different aspect or different way to do it. I’m going to do it though. It’s not just about me, it’s about a new structure for hip-hop. If I don’t do it and somebody else don’t do it –look at what we’re reduced to. We’re being reduced to just a free download. Kids are finding deals for less than the budgets we used to have before. During the times of 360 deals, it’s just situations in hip-hop, period. If we don’t do something, they’re just going to be a novelty. This has to happen. To me, it’s life or death. I hope people see the same. If people see the same, then we are the biggest consumer in the world. If this doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen because we chose this. I don’t believe my people would choose this. Through all these big brands that don’t give a damn about our community, all I’m asking for is two million people to give me a dollar for 16 songs with the biggest people in the world with 16 videos. As much as we consume, we can’t invest in that? Wow. Then that shows a lot about the state that we’re in right now.
Speaking of investing, how much did you invest in this project?
A lot. A whole lot. I want people to know that it’s all my money. No corporate, no back up. It’s all my personal money. It’s not me asking someone to invest in something that I’m being paid to do. It’s all me.
And what type of content can we expect from the mixtape?
It’s a jamming album. But what I will tell people is that if I give people the music they want, then I want to ask why is that what we like? Why is that what we want so bad? That’s what Sex, Drugs, and Video Games is about. If life’s a video game, then who’s holding the controller?
You sourced Louie C.K as the influence behind the project. Does he know that and have you guys ever talked to each other regarding this?
I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him but I’m definitely open to talking to him and we’re definitely going to make it happen.
You were also quoted saying that there’s a disconnect between artists and their labels. Can you tell us what that missing link is?
The thing that I’m trying to do right now for the fans is to empower them and the artists. If we empower the fans that empower the artists, then the disconnect between the labels won’t really matter in any way.
Hip-hop has changed over time; so do now see hip-hop having an outside connection and influence on things such as politics, sports, fashion, business, etc?
Oh yes, of course. Hip-hop is a driving force of all those different sections. That’s why I think it’s important for this movement to be successful because we want to show people that we do it everyday for other people who build up their brands and leave our community and never come back. But why can’t we do this for ourselves? We influence so much in fashion, so much in politics, even from assisting in the election of a president. Think about how many labels and companies have been built on the impact of hip-hop. It’s those same artists who assisted in making it happen. They’re then broke and lonely and you have all these super rich people who can’t create a health plan for those same artists or let those artists work at those labels. I don’t understand that and that’s because we allow that to happen and that’s why we’re building our own culture.
Hip-hop also plays a huge role in race and racial profiling. Do you think hip-hop is or will ever be colorblind?
Well, I’d say this: Do you think the world would ever be colorblind? I think that’s something we should ask. As much as hip-hop influences people, we can’t break laws. At the end of the day, it’s about the people. If the people become colorblind then so would hip-hop. So you first have to change the people.
You can support the 2M1 movement by visiting David Banner’s official website.