David Banner Feels Resurrected By 9th Wonder Collab, Says Mixtapes Hurt Hip-Hop

As he prepares to drop his new concept LP Death of a Pop Star with producer 9th Wonder, Mississippi native David Banner discussed how the project gave him newfound artistic freedom, and why mixtapes are currently one of the biggest detriments to Hip-Hop music.

His last project was the 2008 LP The Greatest Story Ever Told. The project received mixed reviews from fans and critics, disappointing Banner who had expected it to be his defining album.

Reflecting on what went wrong; Banner felt marginalized by the industry’s expectations and wanted to enlist an elite producer to explore more creative and challenging avenues.

“I wanted to feel different, I felt trapped in rap music,” Banner admitted. “I felt like I was dying musically.”

After starting out with an all-star production list with such names as Madlib, Just Blaze, and Nottz, Banner was able to hook up with 9th Wonder through a mutual friend.

The chemistry was immediate, and what was initially supposed to be a promotional mixtape project evolved into a full-fledged album of original material.

“I think ‘cause he’s from North Carolina and I’m from Mississippi we’re sort of in the same situations; a lot of pressure because people think we have all the money and the answers,” he stated. “I went up there like 3 or 4 times [to record]. I was like man you do beats I do verses, let’s just put a mixtape together. We did ‘No Denying…’ [that song] was all that I was feeling coming out of that bad situation in my life. And that’s really what I wanted the whole album to be like.”

In the last month, Hip-Hop fans have been treated to high-profile free mixtapes from Jadakiss (The Champ Is Here 3), Young Jeezy (Trap Or Die 2), and Cam’Ron/Vado (Boss of Bosses 2.5). But as Banner and 9th Wonder invested more money and time in the Death of a Pop Star, both men began to view the idea of a free mixtape as counterproductive.

“We were like f**k giving somebody something for free! I’ll look you in the eye and say this mixtape s**tis one of the things that’s killing rap,” he detailed. “Mixtapes were supposed to be a little bitty precursor to buy the album, not the whole thing. Man f**k a mixtape! If y’all love rap music and the former music and want it to be your job or profession you have to pay for something. 9th Wonder beats cost something, a David Banner verse cost something; that s**tain’t for fucking free, dog.”

Regarding the album’s title, Banner explained that 9th coined it during their discussions on the state of black music.

“We were talking about the death of black music, [saying] it’s going to be hard for there to be another Michael Jackson or Chris Brown,” he said. “9th said that’s what we should call it, Death of a Pop Star. We’re talking about the death of contemporary black music. From there it started.”

At press time, Death of a Pop Star is targeted to be released this summer on David Banner’s Big Face Entertainment.