David Banner

MTA2: Baptised in Dirty Water

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Returning quickly in case hip-hop fans might forget him (not likely), David Banner's sequel to Mississippi: The Album has the productions and the beats to match the original, plus a long parade of diverse featured rappers that prove two things: Banner's beginning to move up in the rap world, and he risks wasting his considerable power striving for the mainstream. Mostly MTA2 capitalizes on the Banner phenomenon, flaunting a distinctive, nearly schizophrenic viewpoint that finds him playing the baller on one track and questioning that life on the next. And his production style remains one of the most intriguing in the crunk side of rap, led by "Talk to Me" (featuring Lil' Flip) and its twisted modem-disconnect noise for a hook. A remix of "Like a Pimp" is a likely hit as well -- though the production only barely improves on the original, it hardly needs to, with new guests Twista and Busta Rhymes stretching the usual crunk stumble into a lyrical marathon with every line. The long line of guest spots, however, tends to dilute the record's power. "Pretty Pink" (featuring Jazze Pha, T.I., and Marcus) works well and "Pop That" is an exercise in OutKast boundary-stretching, but features for Scarface ("The Game") and Devin the Dude ("Gots to Go") descend into the type of bland genre exercise that Banner would've easily exploded on his debut. Just like the first, MTA2 has two sure-fire hits and an assortment of tracks that illustrate Banner's not just the best rap artist in Mississippi, he's becoming one of the finest in the South.

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