Though not the budding star that he once was, David Banner is still a respected name in Hip Hop - almost two decades after he kicked in the door with his debut project Mississippi:The Album, which showcased some of his most memorable records to date. Years later he’d have more successful records and produce others, only to work primarily with super-producer 9th Wonder in their collaborative project Death of a Pop Star, likely the most overlooked project of his career.
Nonetheless the rapper, actor, producer named after the Incredible Hulk is back in 2017 with his 7th studio album titled The God Box, a title reflective of his artistry yet still ambitious considering his current standing in his career.
The God Box is critiqued track by track below, press play and see if it lives up to it’s name.
Magnolia ft Cee Lo Green & Raheem Devaughn
“Let me try to offer ya'll a whole nother perspective really quick, now this African American officer was an undercover, who lost a little brother because of a gang color, which eventually accelerated the cancer that killed his mother, and he was married to a white woman that they called a ***** lover, and it became a full time job not to kill a *****, I wonder does he still consider that he's still a *****” Truth be told this reads better than it sounds on record, as Cee Lo turns in a very thoughtful, passionate performance that all content aside ultimately doesn’t musically deliver. What shouldn’t be lost however is the message itself, that based on it’s title reflects the tranquility and horrors of the deep south, evident in Raheem Devaughn’s outro that reads “If a tree could speak, it's probably shed a tear and weep, for the skin like mine, for being there behind Confederate lines, Mighty Magnolia, Mighty Magnolia” < poetry at it’s finest and indisputably the highlight of the record.
My Uzi ft Big K.R.I.T.
“My Uzi weigh a ton, pray to God I stay protected, high alert, I see jackers on the creep in my reflection” Produced by Banner himself this Mississipi connection is definitely from the heart and soul, yet truth be told the lyrics and delivery is hardly trash but not fuck-up-your-rewind-button fire either (Banner is not a spitter so that’s no surprise, but KRIT has left more to be desired for a minute now), yet even still the UGK sample and cinematic score at the 4 minute mark is definitely worth a listen.
Who Want It ft WatchtheDuck & Black Thought
“Ya’ll know my lineage is godliness and cleanliness, Otis used to sing how we should try a lil tenderness, but they ultra envious, crazy disingenuous, like, who need an enemy if that’s what type of friend you is” smh 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 this one of the best Black Thought verses in years maybe, he SNAPPED on this and the legacy of the GOD MC continues 🙏
“Em said he a God, Miley out here twerkin, I walked in Def Jam wasn’t no black folks workin, so is Robin Thicke, Adele’s that too, Justin Timberlake is what Usher supposed to do - but that’s Elvis, Elvis, just like Elvis, our freedom now our music I’m asking God to help us” One thing you can say about Banner is that he writes with a purpose, and if he was a bigger star then this record would be all over Fox News getting heavy free promotion. Nonetheless Banner speaks a lot of truth on this record, and for those who think this is unfair or an oversimplification, the exploitive history of this country speaks for itself.
Amy ft Trinidad James
“Heyyy my *****, (why you callin yourself that), heyyy my *****, (you supposed to be a God)” Once again this is heavy content that serves a purpose and I applaud it, even if the music is far from easy on the ears.
“Chef Curry no pot, Klay Thompson in the 3rd get shot with the glock” SKIP!!!
“I try not to think with my dick but my dick think he Einstein, it got it’s own mind and it’s focused” Lowkey Banner actually snaps on… perhaps more so than anywhere else on the album, where it’s almost reminiscent of Like a Pimp as it’s certainly Banner at his finest. This one is a solid album cut that’s playlist worthy and recommended.
Marry Me ft Rudy Currence
“They say I am an Urban Myth, they say black men don’t exist, prove them wrong won’t you marry me, marry me!” This one absolutely sounds nothing like the rest, as it’s a smooth ballad that showcases the supreme talents of Rudy Currence, a South Carolina native who sings and co-produced the record to flawless results. This one is golden.
Judy Blare ft Devon Lewow
“Oh yea, oh yea, they call her Judy Blare, I want to take her home and put her legs up in the air” SKIP!!!
Traffic on Mars ft Kap G, WatchTheDuck, Tim Wise & Kenya Jori
“In the kitchen cookin like Benihanas, no shrimp scampi…” SKIP!!!
Black Fist ft Tito Lo
“No Martin no Luther no King, no marching, no choirs, don’t sing, the same Christian lovers that raped your grandmothers and hung your grandfathers from trees, they enemies, blood on the leaves, blood on the streets, blood on our feet…” Banner & Tito Lo (another Mississipi connection) flexes on this and this is easily some of the best rapping on the project. If the leaders of the BLM movement knew better they’d be all over this. This is revolutionary music at it’s finest.
AK ft Raheem Devaughn & Big Rube
“I’m from the land of the KKK, where the AK spray, where your baby momma sell 30 rock like Tina Fey aye” yea… love the content but… SKIP!!! Considering you can hear the same message within much better music, within Banner’s own catalogue as well.
“Ms Obama tell your husband that we hurtin, he promised change but it hasn’t ma’am I’m certain, the streets are killing fields, our kids are popping pills, you can’t blame em hot damnit in the club they just trying to run away from pain…” Now this is more like it and should be played in every English/History/Music class at the high school and collegiate levels across the country… how’s that for an endoresement.
Wizdom Selah (Outro)
“Think about yourself… when you lay yourself down on your bed… your ears can still hear… when you close your eyes you can still see things…raise your energy up and stretch your awareness…. the God Box…” a beautiful instrumental that gives the perfect closure… think Aquemini… a Liberation type of record…
Evil Knievel (Bonus)
“Barack pushed hope, Reagan pushed dope, Clinton pushed something down a young gal’s throat, and since we talking about throats, white folks what you know about ropes, what you know about trees and men swingin from em that look like me, how you say that don’t affect us, Tuskegee how you let them infect us… this for Tulsa Oklahoma this for Rosewood, this for Philly when the cops bombed the whole hood” 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Banner saved his best singular performance for the bonus record, where the revolutionary artist flexes on this so hard the Hulk he’s named after couldn’t box with the God… again this should be all over the Twittersphere and on every social justice platform… but instead like so many other important records it will probably save somebody’s life as their best kept secret.
Overall The God Box is far from perfect and it hardly identifies as enjoyable music, yet at the same time the content is so profound that it adds a completely different level of significance. Although there are records that are definitely skip worthy (Amy, Judy Blare, Traffic on Mars) the highlights selected in gold are certainly worthy of applause and admiration, and when you have a legendary verse from Black Thought, phenomenal vocals from Rudy Currence, and much needed historical context from Banner himself… that’s a body of work that just might stand the test of time after all.