Music News

David Banner

Extravagantly gruff-voiced Mississippi rapper David Banner loves the motherfucking shit out of cursing. On Mississippi: The Album, the first of three CDs he released in 2003, his swearing took the form of a mad-as-hell Southerner unable to decide between succumbing to the virulent misogyny and violence swirling around him and resisting the native entropy of a region he clearly cherishes.

So the initial appeal of Mississippi: The Screwed & Chopped Album, a slowed-down, subtly tweaked remix of Mississippi by Swisha House DJ Michael Watts, is getting to hear all the expletives you might've missed in the album's original form: "You old ho-ass, fuck-ass, dick-sucking-ass . . . son of a bitch!" he growls like a sedated grizzly bear in "Whoremonger." But listen past Screwed & Chopped's instant-replay novelty, and a window into Banner's tortured-ass soul opens even wider than it did the first time. His bargain-basement drum-machine beats and heavy-hearted acoustic-guitar strums thicken into a head-cold version of the blues many Mississippians before him have made; when in "Cadillac on 22's" Banner rhymes "will and grace" with "Sometimes I wish I wasn't born in the first place," the excruciating tempo only bolsters his point.

Surprisingly, MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water, Mississippi's rush-job follow-up, actually packs more pathos than Screwed & Chopped. The disc is front-loaded with another helping of filthy-mouthed misanthropy (including a remix of "Like a Pimp" with Busta Rhymes, Banner's only real competition in the way of vocal grit), but its middle third presents an extraordinary vision of Southern emo-rap, replete with warmly melodic guitar parts, layered choral vocals, whining synthesizers and beats that bounce like the back of a battered pickup truck. As he did on Mississippi, Banner exploits his moral ambivalence to move his ghetto-life dispatches beyond gangsta-rap boilerplate: "I done lost my love for the game/Shit'll never be the same," he sings on "The Game" with a fluid devotion to pitch. "I never lose my love for the streets/The streets got love for me."

This motherfucker is one talented punk-ass, fuck-ass, booty-ass son of a bitch.

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Mikael Wood