Tag Archives: David Banner

Autocritical hip hop: David Banner, Killer Mike and Stalley

I don’t have any particular expectations that an entertainment medium like rap music should be political.

All music speaks to the politics, ideology and identity of the forces that create them.  In 2012 hip hop is a particular series of almost mockable ultra-capitalist tropes.  It makes sense that right wing pundits would continue to amplify moral panic out of rap music because most of music and imagery is created to be increasingly outrageous.

The fun part is that twenty years of cultural saturation has shared the tools to make rap music with millions of young people.  Quite a few of them grew up and made rap music.  Some of them currently make excellent rap music.

I agree with El-P (shown here with Killer Mike).  There is a lot of good rap music out there.

The people who make rap music have a certain investment in the art form.  Stalley’s new video “Live at Blossom’s” from the Savage Journey to the American Dream mixtape is a good example of the internal reflection about materialism, violence and sexism in hip hop.

Edward Said would call this kind of poetic monologue autocritical.  To encourage the listener to layer their own political awareness against books, movies, videos, songs, and unpack the politics represented in the media artifact.

Killer Mike’s rant rap is always excellent.  You can basically buy anything he has put out or download any of his mixtapes and you’ll get something quite entertaining from it.  Here Killer Mike represents his deep seated loathing for the Reagan era in “Big Beast,” a horror movie/jacker/gore fest.  Assists from Bun B, T.I. and El-P in this almost ten-minute mini-movie.  Not safe for work.

You could argue that the cannibalism of T.I. and Killer Mike is a thinly veiled mockery of consumers of violent hip hop.  David Banner makes those arguments explicit, calling out rap music in a particularly dramatic fashion.  Enjoy “Malcolm X” for that critical perspective on hip hop.

 

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Filed under capitalism, communication, hip hop, music, representation, resistance

hip hop 2011: Building vs. Beef

I cheer for a couple of rappers who have successfully avoided beef.   I know that a lot of people still make money through simple controversy, but I wanted to acknowledge a couple of rappers who took the classy road.

I’ve been listening to Big K.R.I.T.’s Return to 4eva all day long.   Check out “Sookie Now,” the spicy track that K.R.I.T. rocks with fellow Mississippian David Banner.

You might remember David Banner back when he was rapping and scaring folks as a Southern political rapper.  Or perhaps you are one of those liberals who remembers him as the rapper who drove a tractor trailer of water and supplies to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.  Either way, he is an absolute boss, and for a rapper coming up in Mississippi he had to be the paragon.

K.R.I.T. invites him on the track, gives him props in interviews — does what a gracious up-and-comer should do with an elder.  Pay his damn respect. The result on “Sookie Now” is just awesome.  Banner’s verse is blood-chilling.

Today, the big hip hop news is that Curren$y and Lil Wayne have a collaboration — “Smoke sum’n” — a track released on the 110% badass DJ Drama mixtape Verde Terrace.  (Actually Curren$y’s verse is on Verde Terrace, Lil’ Wayne sent in his verse a week later, whoops!).

(Thanks and props to The Smoking Section one of the best hip hop blogs running.)

Curren$y spent time on a couple of labels before meeting up with an appreciative audience.  His time with Lil’ Wayne and Young Money resulted in some great tracks.  “Poppin’ bottles” and “Where the cash at?” on Dedication 2 are standouts.  Despite leaving the label and setting up his own projects, Curren$y passed on every opportunity to attack Lil Wayne and his folks.

I hear some bitterness on the tracks of “Independence day,” but they aren’t explicit Lil’ Wayne slams — they are complaints about the industry.

I guess I’ll add Gucci and Waka to this conversation and note that despite various potential provocation they have never turned on each other that I know about it.  Ferarri Boyz get’s a solid 3.5 from this fan — it’s a solid undertaking.   But kudos to continuing to build with each other.

Respect to the emcees who take the high road.  Those emcees who simply step past the petty bullshit and make good music.

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Filed under art, hip hop