Mississippi-born rapper/producer David Banner is on fire right now, and it has got us here at AWM pumped for his forthcoming studio album, The God Box, available May 19, from A Banner Vision.
Last year, Banner gave listeners an exclusive sneak peek at his creative process, with the release of his “Before The Box” mixtape. It’s an extremely satisfying glimpse at Banner’s creative process and shows the significant progress he made to shape a different kind of sound than we are used to hearing from the artist who brought us The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Although Banner’s seventh full-length studio album was originally expected to be released in 2016, delays in the production process led him to hold back the date until May 2017.
The mixtape starts off with a bang—both literally and figuratively. “My Uzi,” featuring fellow Mississippi-rapper Big K.R.I.T., fires fast and with precision.
“My Uzi” also includes samples of Banner’s 2008 track “Suicide Doors,” featuring UGK and Kandi. Fans of Houston-natives Bun B and the late-Pimp C are certain to recognize their voices on the hook—”My uzi weighs a ton, pully pully at the bar.”
At first listen, I just figured “Pump Your Black Fist” featuring Tito Lo, appeared on the mixtape twice on purpose—because it is just that tight. But, according to Banner, it was not intended to repeat.
“Evil Knievil,” featuring actress/poet Ernestine Johnson, is perhaps one of the most necessary hip-hop tracks of 2016. More power than poetry, more rhythm than rhyme, the track drives home a message of what hate and evil have this nation in the past and what it can bring in the future — a message that citizens can relate to considering the current state of political affairs.
The mixtape winds things down with the R&B inspired track “Marry Me” featuring 2015 Grammy Award Winning gospel singer Rudy Currence, before starting right back up with the hard-hitting four-part cipher, “Pain,” featuring Big K.R.I.T., Tito Lo and Coke Bumaye.
“Welcome to Mississippi” features a soundbite from a July 2015 interview with Banner about how he began the Heal the Hood foundation of Memphis.
Although it is only a brief clip of the entire 11-minute-long interview, it is guaranteed to capture listeners’ attention—with the story of how Banner traveled around Jackson, Mississippi, giving out $100 bills to impoverished families.
For more, check out the entire 11-minute interview with Banner.
One of the outtakes from The God Box recording sessions, “The Cross,” is produced by Gensu Dean and features an unidentified emcee by the name of “X.”
Before the Box also features such previously released tracks as “Swag,” “Malcolm X,” “Amazing” featuring Chris Brown, and “Believe” featuring Big K.R.I.T.; as well as remixes of Kap-G’s 2014 “F La Policia” featuring Banner and T.I.; and “Warrior” by DJ EFN featuring Banner, Sizzla, N.O.R.E. and Jon Connor.
To get your copy of Before the Box, check out DatPiff and be sure to stay tuned for Banner’s forthcoming album The God Box, available for pre-order now, on iTunes.