David Banner is traveling cross-country to promote his new album, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” The album hits shelves June 3, and the new single “Get Like Me” is available now for download on iTunes.
Having just filmed four movies, Banner said he is ready to switch his focus back to music. The rapper recently had a role in the hit holiday movie “This Christmas.” The film starred Chris Brown, who is also featured on Banner’s new single.
In addition to his collaboration with Brown, Banner has worked with everyone from Akon to Young Joc. His new album features some of hip-hop’s masters.
“It was an honor to collaborate with Snoop, (Lil) Wayne is a genius, and Chris Brown is a hard worker,” Banner said. “I enjoy working with everyone I collaborate with, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.”
Banner cited his struggle as the inspiration for the new album.
“Coming from the streets of Mississippi and rising up from that, I think my life is the greatest story ever told,” he said.
Because the album is based on his life, he said he’s not worried about the reception of it.
“Nothing would be a disappointment after all I’ve been through,” he said. “Some people may not get what I’m trying to do, but my life is too good to worry about that. There are people in Africa who can’t eat.”
So far, it doesn’t look like he has to worry about much. Banner’s last album, “Certified,” hit No. 3 on the Billboard charts, and his unreleased album is already generating a buzz on the radio and Internet.
Banner’s perspective comes from his understanding of the business. He said while he strives to further the arts and help his community, he knows he can only do so by making music that sells.
“I want to influence people, but people won’t listen to someone if there is no money to get him out there,” he said.
His music is selling, but it is also causing controversy. Rap music has come under scrutiny because of its explicit lyrics, but Banner argued these lyrics can open the dialogue between the streets and community leaders.
“People don’t want to admit that hip-hop gives young black America a voice. They don’t want to hear what we have to say, but hip-hop can actually break the cycle of violence by addressing the problem,” he said.
To shift the blame of violence away from hip hop, Banner spoke at the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing in September. At the hearing, Banner pointed out that his hometown of Jackson, Miss., is one of the most violent neighborhoods in the country. He said music kept him out of the trouble he may have otherwise been drawn to.
“When I would get angry and would want revenge, I would listen to 2Pac,” he said. “His anger in the song would replace my anger and I would live vicariously through his music.”
Banner said he doesn’t believe violence comes from art, but rather art can be an outlet that keeps anger from being expressed through violence.
Banner used this outlet to overcome the temptations of his hometown. He rose above violence to not only attend Southern University, but to lead it. As Student Government Association president of the university, Banner said he gained experiences that helped him achieve fame.
“Being SGA president, I was taught how to network,” he said. “I also gained the ability to influence a large mass of people. It showed me that if you invest yourself in power, power will invest in you.”
Banner also said he believes Historically Black Colleges and Universities should be small schools serve as the foundation of the black community.
“We have a different history, and we should be proud of it,” he said.