For David Banner there is no alternative. The ambitious rap trailblazer continues to represent his beloved Mississippi with a pride and ferocity that has made the rapper/producer one of hip-hop's most intriguing and in-demand talents. Who would have guessed that a troubled yet energetic kid from Jackson, Mississippi would single-handedly carry a depressed state known as the epitome of Southern racism and poverty into a respected source of hip hop music? Who would have bet that Banner would storm the Billboard album charts with his gold-certified 2003 major label debut Mississippi-The Album (SRC) and critically hailed follow-up MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water? Most recently David Banner has witnessed his stock rise as a much sought after track master, crafting high profile gems for the multi-platinum likes of T.I. ("Rubber Band Man"), and Nelly ("E.I.- The Tipdrill Remix").


Indeed, Mr. Mississippi has gone beyond his credentials as one of the new breed leaders of the Southern hip-hop movement to becoming a multi-faceted force to be reckoned with. Banner's culmination as an influential powerbroker in the music industry can be heard throughout on his third release Certified. This set finds the gruff-voiced visionary expanding on his potent mix of street anthems and politically charged rebel music. But even more noteworthy is Banner's willingness to collaborate with a wide range of rap artists that include standouts Twista, Jadakiss, Talib Kweli, and dead prez as well as fellow superstar producers Mr. Colli Park (DJ Smurf), Lil Jon, and Jazze Pha. It was a direction that came naturally for Banner.

For David Banner the marriage between the sacred and the profane has always played a huge role in his work. The man has long committed himself to serving his community-as evident by his personally-funded college scholarship program which in late 2004 awarded five David Banner fans each $10, 0000. "I tell a lot of my people in the politically conscience movement that in order to make an impact, we have to be able to do for our people. If you don't have the finances or the audience, it doesn't matter. I would much rather make hit records and donate a $1 million dollars than just talk," explains Banner.

Whatever his methods, Banner is still the same ambitious kid who dared to dream of rap super stardom even amongst the disheartening racism, poverty and gang violence of his home state of Mississippi. It was an older cousin from the North that first put a 12-year-old Banner on to the 1987 sounds of New York innovators Stetsasonic, T La Rock, and Mantronix. By 16, he was cultivating his production techniques on a Casio keyboard sampler and finding inspiration from everyone from NWA and A Tribe Called Quest to Southern rap giants The Geto Boys, UGK and Outkast.

More than decade later, as a member of the Mississippi rhyme duo Crooked Lettaz, Banner would become part of the dirty south revolution, releasing the critically lauded and criminally slept-on Tommy Boy Records debut Grey Skies (1999). A year later, Them Firewater Boys Vol. 1, his defiant introduction as a soloist, saw Banner become the hottest underground artist in the country as both XXL magazine and Murder Dog named it one of the best albums of the year. Soon the major labels were knocking on Banner's door, sparking off a bidding-war. When legendary music executive Steve Rifkind (Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Three-6 Mafia) signed the self-contained Banner and his b.i.G.f.a.c.e. Entertainment imprint to Rifkind's SRC label, the music industry soon took notice.

Of course, for the ever-evolving David Banner, there's more to come following the release of Certified. 2004 found Banner holding down correspondent duties for MTV News in which he showed the hideous living and social conditions of Mississippi ghettos during the Presidential Elections. He's also in negotiations with the Cartoon Network for the development of a character that will be based on his likeness in addition to taking acting classes in Los Angeles and is finishing up a movie script.

Having recently produced tracks for Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Lil' Flip and Juelz Santana, the crooked letter producer/MC/writer shows no signs of slowing down. Mississippi and David Banner is here to stay.



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