David Banner On The HBCU Impact, New Music and Activism

Rapper, producer, actor, social activist and Jackson, MS native, David Banner, is a legend in his own right. Creator of hit songs such as, “Like a Pimp”, “Cadillac on 22s”, and “Get Like Me,” the Southern University and A&M College graduate and former SGA President is back in the studio prepping for the release of his forthcoming album The God Box 2

 Interviewed by Darryl “DC” Chambers,” in this article David speaks on his HBCU experience, new music and activism.

All Banner ever wanted to do was rap and has been rapping ever since the 6th grade. Saying that once the time came, his mother wouldn’t allow him to go to college in-state, which he says that he’s glad he didn’t go to Jackson State University because he doesn’t know if he’d be alive to this day, due to his lifestyle and rap career while being so close to home. Let’s get more into it.

Starting this interview, Banner’s asked, “Did an HBCU choose you or did you choose an HBCU or more specifically did Southern choose you or did you choose Southern?” Banner responds, “I definitely chose Southern, I had an option and it was crazy because I had the type of mother that told me to pick one college. Don’t pick two colleges, pick one college and I’ll make sure you get into that college.” Stating that albeit Southern University is a great educational institution, in that time he had never seen so many beautiful women. 

He’s always pushed for the people and education despite his career and the fact that a number of African-Americans take on America’s agenda of giving us a bad name, stating, “A good thing about going to college is you’re able to choose your environment, your environment doesn’t choose you. If you don’t like who you are and who you are right now isn’t moving you forward as an individual, then you need to change. One of the things I believe we have to do, America will only show us the aspects of ourselves that we wanna see and that’s the sad part. As much as people say, “Well I didn’t know you did this”, because you didn’t do your research. We as a people have to stop taking what a group of people who have historically never wanted to see anything but us acting crazy, slutty and all those type of things. They’re not going to feed us more.“ 

Roc-Nation’s very own Young Guru even stated that Banner was one of the first who rapped about the street life, but was never embarrassed about his intellect, how smart he is and how much he reads. Unlike the trend that most rappers follow today, that the music industry places upon them to feed to the younger generation, to continue a cycle of social stigmas.

“How can you say you’re a rapper, but don’t know any words? How can you say you’re a producer but don’t play any instruments? No criticism to any rapper, do what you do best but don’t make our kids think that’s the only way to do it.”, says Banner. Saying that you have to be intelligent in order to read contracts and navigate yourself through the world. That it shouldn’t get to the point where you’ll always need another person to be free on this planet and that you have to work hard in order to move freely in the world.

Chambers then asked “How does David Banner become the SGA president of Southern University? “

 “Same way I got into Hurricane Katrina, the same way I got into helping the fight for Emmett Till, even before he was born, Mike Brown, Banner stated.  “I have a tendency to want to see Justice. A tendency of not wanting to see other people being taken advantage of.”

While he was SGA President, he stated that he worked 8 hours everyday in the office for the most part, except one day when he was told to go home. Once the position was bestowed upon him he didn’t even bother to look for jobs or internships. From the point he was elected he worked until that wasn’t his title anymore. 

“Other groups of people take care of their Presidents, but our people are used to people taking from them. So there are people who do the real work and end up broke and lonely because they put the people first and the people in turn don’t know how to give back and he truly sees that now.”, says Banner- noting that he missed out on at least 12 million dollars because of his social activism and putting the people first. People didn’t fully support his music career in turn. Imagine if the 10,000 people on campus had returned the favor to him with his music or if everyone supported MLK that way back then. Charlamagne Tha God (Co-host of The Breakfast Club) stated that “The God Box” was a revolutionary album and one of the best ever. 

“We now as educated people are now going to have to start holding the everyday average person to task the way we do the football players, basketball players and everyone else,” he stated. “We seem to hold rappers more accountable for things they can’t take care of more than we do our elected officials.”

Getting into making an impact with his music, Banner was asked “Before the hip-hop/pop world truly knew David Banner, did you want to use your voice to lead into other things? Did you want to use it as your platform to get your knowledge across and to make people listen to what you had to say or was music something you wanted to do regardless?”

“Well it’s really hard to say, but to a certain degree I’ve always wanted to change how people look at Mississippi. I remember going to Jamaica and someone saying all they know about Mississippi is David Banner and “Mississippi Burning (1988),” he says.  That let him know he changed the perception. He didn’t always get it right, but the people knew he stood for God, his people and what’s right. 

When asked if the David Banner podcast was something he started specifically to get his knowledge out to a greater mass of people, he had this to say:

“Initially I did,  but the truth is I don’t like being in anybody’s box. It got to the point where I started speaking up a lot because people needed it, not because that’s what I wanted to do all the time. You have to wait and see if the situation you’re fighting for is worth fighting for and if you’re on the right side. Some people have a tendency to crucify our people when America’s already doing that and they don’t need anymore help. Honestly the podcast was just for us to be ourselves. Although I’ve always loved to help, it’s not my responsibility to save everybody. Even if I chose to, how am I supposed to feed my family if I’m fighting injustice and people aren’t supporting me?”

“Our most viewed section was with Dr. Anthony Browder and the second was Monique. We were the first podcast to put Benny the Butcher and his freestyle on one of our episodes. Erykah Badu told me this, ‘You also have to be careful because are you making the podcast for you or for your listeners. You gotta let it be whatever it’s going to be. Telling people the real meaning of your podcast takes the closeness away from them.’  A perfect example is MLK’s speech, it should have a different meaning for you in Elementary, High school and college. Don’t allow your ego to define something just so your fans can feel the way you feel. His responsibility is to give you the word, then you work with God.”

David Banner is currently working on his new album The God Box 2, a follow up to the first God Box album, released in 2017. Before ending the conversation, Banner talked about his new single “Swingin” featuring Bun B, which is one of those songs that make you want to let your top back, your windows down, and just let the song take control. It definitely took us back to those early David Banner years. When asked about the song he stated “A Lot of times people forget that, just because you are conscious and grown up, other parts of you are dead. That’s one of the things that I did man, is that I squashed the David Banner that y’all love.I squashed the David Banner that changed my family’s life. It doesn’t mean that part of me has to control every aspect, but I think as Black people, we forget that stories are stories. Whether they are true stories or false stories.”

Make sure you download the new single “Swingin” and be on the lookout for the new album, The God Box 2. Headto DavidBanner.com to sign up for all updates and new release 

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