Album Reviews

David Banner – Certified

(MCA) UK release date: 13 February 2006

David Banner - Certified In the UK the emergence of the Dirty South rap-scene is epitomised by the likes of Ludacris and Nelly, but the reality is that as much credit deserves 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 that America’s Deep South could compete with the New York and California coasts. And this 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 to the fact that this won’t be a hip-pop album before Treat Me Like explodes with the King of Crunk himself, Lil’ Jon in tow. So lots of shouting about killing, drug dealing and other gangster rappers stereotypes are heard over the same beat as every other Lil Jon track.

The Three Six Mafia are an act to watch for 2006, but their talents aren’t put to best use on Gangster Walk, which is much the same as the previous two track. This only serves to highlight the potential of the album when placed next 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 second listen. Although On Everything is the first upbeat – rather than charged – track on Certified, the title track doesn’t pick up and run with this new lease of life, with the violent and vile lyrics Banner seems obsessed with encapsulated in Bloody War.

The track does raise a good question, however: “Bloody war, bloody, bloody war / What you think all these bullets were made for?” An undeniable reality of the streets, but for someone who offers college scholarships to his fans you would think there’d be an aversion to this type of profanity. Some appeasement is offered by My Life: “I can feel it in the night time / They say the Lord gave life / But these niggers wanna take mine.” The acoustic guitar loop from which the song evolves suggests the lyrics are borne from genuine pain stemming from the slave trade to street struggles.

Any track with both Dead Prez and Talib Kweli could be expected to have a revolutionary feel and Ridin’ certainly does, but it could just as easily be 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 album that will do very little to improve David Banner’s profile in the UK – an insignificant market to him, perhaps.

There’s little familiarity, too little to relate to on Certified, and I for one would rather give airtime to British talent than to try and push the likes of David Banner, whose music may be groundbreaking, but is alien to our ears.

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David Banner – Certified