David Banner


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The money rolls in, the inspiration drains out. It happens to a lot of artists. David Banner, however, does not fall into that camp. Now that he knows he has a lot of people paying attention, built on the popularity of Mississippi: The Album and MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water, he's more fired up and outspoken than ever, fearlessly and descriptively expressing the rage he feels for the way his people have been treated throughout history, whether the events went down centuries or weeks ago. (Needless to say, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, going down as he was promoting this album, must be giving him loads of thoughts and feelings to work through for his next release.) As on his past albums, Banner has all the bases covered, so there's also plenty of material to soundtrack an orgy of any variety, and even those moments are intense and sound like very pointed protest songs. Every other chorus seems to be have been written for a mob of some kind, while the production work -- handled mostly by Banner, along with contributions from Jazze Pha, Lil Jon, Maestro, Get Cool, and a couple others -- takes on a number of dimensions without making for a disjointed listen. If Certified has one problem, it's the overabundance of features that eats up too much time. Banner could hold down every aspect of an album on his own, no problem, so all the guest spots show that he's actually the one being supportive. Scanning the list -- from Lil Boosie to Talib Kweli, from Jagged Edge to Too Short -- also demonstrates his range rather than desperation to appeal across styles and ideologies. If the album has a second problem, it's that "Play" is a little too similar to the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)" (also produced by Michael "ColliPark" Crooms), even if it's no less amazing, fitted with screwed-and-chopped sirens and frenzied electronic squiggles (and with that, Ludacris' "Splash Waterfalls" is almost completely erased from existence). Certified certifies that Banner is as crucial to hip-hop in the early 2000s as any other MC. Whether in conscious mode or not, he's at the top, and he's taking all his family and friends with him to celebrate.

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