When you hear the name David Banner, the first thing that pops into your head might be his 2005 single “Play.” But what you might not know is that when he’s not whispering sweet, suggestive nothings in your ear, Banner is an actor, activist, entrepreneur and all-around businessman. The rapper, who will be releasing his sixth album, Sex, Drugs And Video Games, May 22, is calling its release a movement, and by charging a minimum donation of $1, he is trying to find a perfect mix between hip-hop’s mixtape tradition and the revenue-producing LP sales. Never short on ambitions, with this album, Banner says he wants to change the image of hip-hop, regain the genre some respect and bring the community together around the music. And, naturally, make fans touch themselves.
Sex, Drugs and Video Games: Is it an album or a mixtape?
It is an album because I want people to know that the things we call mixtapes are free. It is an album that we chose to make, and people have to donate a dollar.
You’re calling this album’s release a movement, “2M1” movement to be exact. How is it a movement?
It is a movement because we are asking two million people to donate a dollar, and it is about collecting emails and building a team. We will create a movie and with the movie, show what this is all about, which is representing ourselves in ways in which we want to be seen. The two million people are those who are active and are excited and will move with me.
Why charge a dollar?
The minimum donation is of one dollar. The reason for one dollar is that I am giving you an album with all these artists: Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, A$AP Rocky, Game, Snoop Dogg, Bun B, Big K.R.I.T. and others, and this album in reality is worth $30. I am giving you videos with each song, and we are putting out a song every two weeks and a week after that a video. There is no reason at all for people to not donate. There will be something you like on this album, even if it is not me. We have great beats and great artists working together to create something amazing.
Why title it Sex, Drugs And Video Games?
The title is asking people to think, because sex, drugs and violence is what people stereotype so much about hip-hop. For example, what do naked women on the sidelines have to do with football? So, when we have those stimuli we ask why the music reflects that. If life is essentially a video game, who has the controller? It’s not that I don’t like sex or video games, but in this album I ask why all this stereotyping and why all this violence when it is not what we are about.
You have mentioned before that this movement is about regaining respect for the urban and hip-hop community and reinforcing it as a viable entity. Why do you feel this respect has been lost?
I think it is No. 1 by giving away free goods. We give away so much. We don’t respect anything that we get for free, and this devalues the music. And it’s not only about music but also culture, and this relates to the Trayvon Martin murder with people not having respect for people, for each other and for music. That is what the movement is about; it is showing people that hip-hop is a viable entity.
How do you think hip-hop has been a viable entity?
It connects to everything in culture from fashion to politics. The culture that it has built is so important. The only part of hip-hop that has lost entity is us not doing it for ourselves. That is what the movement is about, us making things for ourselves and supporting ourselves. As much as hip-hop has built, record labels still don’t take us seriously, artists don’t get anything from it, and the labels, they don’t give a shit about us. It is not fair. The little money they give us is nothing compared to what we do for them. We need to stand up and do things for ourselves. That is what this movement is about, us taking the reins back.
Over the last few weeks, you have been very outspoken about the Trayvon Martin case. Does the album relate to that at all?
The movement is not connected to the case, but I am very involved in politics. However, one of the reasons I try not to relate this to my music is because it poses a distraction to my listeners. If I am talking about a case, I try to make my fans keep connected to the case and don’t talk about my music. Hip-hop is supposed to be the voice of the people and provide safety, and music should not be blamed for violence.
After getting the $2 million, you said you were going to shoot a movie. What’s happening with that?
At this point, we are still working on it. I don’t like to talk about it much because that would be getting ahead of the project, and I don’t want people to lose focus on the movement. I want people to focus on DavidBanner.com and join in. Yeah, there is a plan, but it is constantly growing, and I can’t really decide on anything until I know who wants to and is going to be involved.
How did you come up with $2 million as your goal?
I pray and meditate a lot, and that was the number that god gave me. There is no explanation, no reason. That is the number that popped in my head, and that is the number I am going for. I will not budge from this number.
What can fans expect from this new album?
I want them to expect to touch themselves after they hear my voice, and that is what usually happens. They will want to jump on the dance floor and shake their ass, and they will also want to stand up and get involved in their communities and be active and go get activated. It is a mix of everything. It is funny because a lot of women were asking me for physical copies with my face on it, just after they heard the two songs we have put out, just so they could rub it against their bodies. But yeah, people can expect big things.