David Banner Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
In a day and age when an unprecedented amount of music is being given away for free, it's high time that someone posed the question: when is a mixtape not a mixtape? Sick and tired of seeing artists churn out all-original content while receiving neither payment nor respect for their efforts, David Banner is hoping to spark a revolution with his next street release. Though new album Sex, Drugs & Video Games will be offered free of charge, the Mississippi emcee and producer is asking that listeners who download the project donate a dollar each, toward a projected goal of $2,000,000. Needless to say, those who can spare a greenback will be getting plenty of bangers for their buck--among them previously-featured, reader-approved singles "Californication," "Let Me In," "Believe" and "Yao Ming." The project is scheduled for release on May 22, but fans who would like to donate to Banner's cause can do so now via the artist's official site. Afterward, Banner encourages you to raise awareness in your social network by Tweeting the following message: '"I AM 1 IN 2 MILLION." I support @therealbanner #2M1 movement. Pledge at www.davidbanner.com".
In an exclusive interview, David Banner steps into The DJBooth to discuss the paradigm shift he hopes to engender with his latest project, the enthusiastic response his movement has received from young artists like Nipsey Hussle and A$AP Rocky, and (for the very first time!) the meaning behind Sex, Drugs & Video Games.
Although it is being released for free, I know you’ve been opposed to calling your new project Sex, Drugs and Video Games a mixtape. Tell us why you take offense to calling it a mixtape.
I’m not calling it a mixtape because we have to stop lying to ourselves by calling them mixtapes. These are free albums we’ve been giving away as of lately. It’s all original music and original raps. These aren’t borrowed instrumentals. Rappers are giving away free albums. It’s up to us to change that process. What the music is going through nowadays, we need to be honest in what we’re doing. We’ve been giving away free content and if it’s free, it’s not an art anymore. We all know that people don’t respect what’s free; how can we respect something we didn’t work or pay for? That’s why we have to start calling it what it is.
How do we change this culture?
Once you get the consumer into a pattern of getting stuff for free, why should they want to pay for something? I’m showing people all the hard work that went into the project. We have 16 songs and 16 videos. You’ll be able to get it on www.livemixtapes.com and what I’m asking for is at least $1 donation per download. This album is so dope that I think people will want to donate more than that, they’ll be open to donating as much as they possibly can. Every Wednesday we’re dropping a song and the video for that song the following Wednesday. We’re asking 2 million people to give at least a donation of $1. Again, you can give however much you want too. Hopefully by June 22nd, will have two million and we’re gonna’ shoot a movie which will be released the same way as the album. The reason I’m trying to be clear with that is to show people that this is a movement. Instead of asking other people to see our vision or support our movement, we’re trying to do it ourselves.
What is Sex, Drugs and Video Games?
This is the first time I’ve ever explained the concept for Sex, Drugs and Video Games. I’m at a point in my career where I want to do different music. I’m not saying “better” music because than I’d be saying what I did before wasn’t good. What I’m saying is that we need balance. A lot of the music that I was doing had to do with sex, drugs and violence. I always had the spiritual and political aspects to my music; it was usually about one of those five things. I always wondered why people gravitated more towards the sex, drugs and violence. I asked myself who controls that? We think that we as black people control the way that we think, but all we ever hear is that we’re thugs and we’re from the hood. It’s always negative, on television, even if it’s subliminal. My generation is used to hearing that we’re negative. This is something that we did on our own. If we’re portraying negatives images in movies, we made it ourselves. That’s the beauty of Sex, Drugs and Video Games. I’m making the songs that hip-hop fans tend to gravitate towards, and then I’m gonna’ make a point to ask them why do you like this music?
With such a large, veteran-shaped vision, how was it to work with newer, younger artists? How did buzzmakers like A$AP Rocky and Don Trip take to your vision?
It was beautiful to work with guys like that. I was honestly motivated by working with younger artists. It was good to see a group of cats with a vision, because believe me when I say both A$AP Rocky and Don Trip have visions. The type of music they want to do, they know what they’re making. There was music they didn’t feel comfortable doing and I respect that. A$AP Rocky knows exactly who his crowd is and what his movement is [made up of]. To see Nipsey Hussle’s political side, to see how smart of a marketer he is was great. These young cats are really focused and know exactly where they’re going. The thing that I hope to do is help motivate them and not only help them bring their vision to fruition, but help them avoid some of the negativity in this industry. Hopefully with this younger generation, we can control our vision. In most cases when dealing with major labels, they wait until we get hot and then we sell our vision to them, and we stop doing the things that helped get us to that point. Why sell ourselves to them when we’re already a business owner? We need to learn to control our visions. We need to understand what we created and more importantly, understand the power of it.
Why is so important for people to donate and how can our readers find out more?
People can donate on www.davidbanner.com. It’s not about this album; we’re looking to build a network of two million people. A donation of $1 is to let people in so they can see the quality of the work, and for them to see what we can achieve when we all come together. The most important thing is for me to be able to talk to the supporters and the people that donated. I want them to understand that instead of getting on television, why can’t we work things out together and THEN get on television when we’ve already established a plan of what we wanna’ do? And then we start vocalizing it, that’s what I’m trying to do with this movement. If we have two million people that are willing to do something, when you spend a $1 on something, you are doing something; you are giving something. That’s what grown men do; they don’t expect anything for free. To everybody who is down with me, I appreciate it.