In the UK the emergence of the Dirty South rap-scene is epitomised by thelikes of Ludacris and Nelly, but the reality is that as much creditdeserves to be piled on Mr Mississippi, David Banner. For it was his skills -both with mic in hand and behind the production desk – that proved thatAmerica’s Deep South could compete with the New York and California coasts. Andthis competition didn’t mean imitation.
It is unfortunate, then, that absolutely none of this is evident in Certified,his fifth full length release. Lost Souls’ electric guitar riff alludes tothe fact that this won’t be a hip-pop album before Treat Me Like explodes withthe King of Crunk himself, Lil Jon in tow. So lots of shouting aboutkilling, drug dealing and other gangster rappers stereotypes areheard over the same beat as every other Lil Jon track.
The Three Six Mafia are an act to watch for 2006, but their talentsaren’t put to best use on Gangster Walk, which is much the same as the previoustwo track. This only serves to highlight the potential of the album when placednext to 2 Fingers. Jagged Edge, famous by virtue of association with Nelly,softens the sound into an amalgamation of Chris Brown‘s Run It,J-Kwon‘s Tipsy and, well, David Banner.
The testosterone reaches overdrive on the sexually charged Play, Fucking(who would’ve thought?) and Thinking Of You, none of which merit a secondlisten. Although On Everything is the first upbeat – rather than charged – trackon Certified, the title track doesn’t pick up and run with thisnew lease of life, with the violent and vile lyrics Banner seems obsessed withencapsulated in Bloody War.
The track does raise a good question, however: “Bloody war, bloody, bloody war / Whatyou think all these bullets were made for?” An undeniable reality ofthe streets, but for someone who offers college scholarships to his fans youwould think there’d be an aversion to this type of profanity. Some appeasementis offered by My Life: “I can feel it in the night time / They say the Lord gavelife / But these niggers wanna take mine.” The acoustic guitar loop from whichthe song evolves suggests the lyrics are borne from genuine pain stemmingfrom the slave trade to street struggles.
Any track with both Dead Prez and Talib Kweli could be expectedto have a revolutionary feel and Ridin’ certainly does, but it could just as easilybe confused with racism, as the issues highlighted seem to be the fault of’crackers’, which is a sad way to mark the last note-worthy track of the album, an albumthat will do very little to improve David Banner’s profile in the UK – an insignificant market to him, perhaps.
There’s little familiarity, toolittle to relate to on Certified, and I for one would rather giveairtime to British talent than to try and push the likes of David Banner, whosemusic may be groundbreaking, but is alien to our ears.