Two years ago, Mississippi rapper David Banner was rapping about suicide doors, a Cadillac sitting on 22s and telling everyone to “get like me.” But after touring in Europe, and noticing that people’s perception of Black men was all about those stereotypes, he made a call to rapper-lecturer 9th Wonder, and they decided to do something about it.
Death of A Pop Star is a collaborative album by the Grammy Award winning artists, and it takes you back to the days when hip-hop came with a real message. The album, released Tuesday, features the likes of Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton and Ludacris.
With songs that make you think and bob your head, it’s no surprise that the album has received a four-mic rating from The Source magazine.
S2S spoke with Banner and 9th Wonder about the album, and their thoughts on the state of hip-hop in the 21st century.
S2S: David, tell [us] about your time in Europe. How did it influence you to do this album with 9th Wonder?
David: [Europeans] only get what they see in videos, and what they see on TV, and I don’t think television or videos give a proper depiction of Black men as a whole. In music, it’s just about balance. There’s nothing wrong with us going to the club and partying or whatever, but that’s not the life of an average Black man every day, all day.
Me and 9th hooked up, and we ended up talking—we were talking about being Black men in America, period. And we got together and said that we were going to make some grown man music.
S2S: What is the concept of Death of a Pop Star and how did you come up with the album title?
9th Wonder: Basically the concept was how we came up with the title. David Banner and I had a two- or three-hour conversation—first conversation, on the phone. We talked about the state of Black music, the state of manhood in hip-hop music, and being a grown man in hip-hop music, and it was right around the time after Michael Jackson had passed.
It was an ironic time when we came up with that title because when Michael Jackson passed, a lot of Black music died with him—and what were we going to do to keep that legacy going? What were we going to do to keep Black music going? Because as David Banner said, hip-hop music is not dead, Black music isn’t dead, but it’s definitely got a foot in the grave. We wanted to get together and make the most powerful music we possibly could.
S2S: Finish this sentence: Hip-hop 20 years ago was about ____. Hip-hop now is about ____.
9th Wonder: Hip-hop 20 years ago was about the people. Hip-hop now is more about the artist.
Banner: Hip-hop 20 years ago was about artists being artists. Hip-hop now is about artists being businessmen and women. I think it’s very good that we’ve been learning how to be better businessman and women, but I think we also forgot that it’s about the music first.
– Keosha Johnson
S2S goes home with rapper David Banner