It seems like everyone is weighing in on Erykah Badu’s strong criticism on the current rap scene. “How y’all gone stand by and let our music turn into pop techno cornball ass music,” the alternative soul songstress asked her Twitter followers in mid-October of the synth-driven sound that has become the go-to style for new breed MC’s and R&B acts. “We don’t own our music no more…where is the funk AT?”
Yet respected producer and rhymer David Banner, who is set to drop the buzz-heavy collaborative album The Death Of A Pop Star with fellow beat master 9th Wonder on November 9, says that Badu shouldn’t be so quick to judge younger acts. “I don’t have a problem with any kind of music,” Banner told VIBE of his thoughts on today’s rap landscape. “But you have to understand. What do you think Marvin Gaye would think about a David Banner? He would probably think that I was making bullshit music [laughs]. So I can’t turn around and do what our parents did to us, which is shit on anything that doesn’t sound like what they did. We have to make something that these kids are going to like. If we don’t like what’s coming out we have to put out something better.”
However, Banner adds that if he does have an issue with hip-hop today, it’s a lack of diversity. “I just have a problem with the lack of balance,” he explains. “Everything about rap music now has everything to do with the music but the ability to rap. It’s who has this nigga killed? Who is he beefing with? Does he have swag out the roof, shawty? No, it should be, dude, can you rap? Is the beat tight?”
For Banner, who is currently enjoying a critically acclaimed run composing television commercials (His Gatorade ‘Evolve’ campaign has been cited as one of he year’s best) he sees the stripped down consciousness of The Death of A Pop Star as adding a much needed element to hip-hop.
“We have allowed corporate entities to reduce our music to a download,” he says. “Our kids now they don’t really believe they should pay for rap music. So there’s a bigger problem that we don’t see. They have now replaced the artist and the talent of the artist with general concepts like swag and being gangsta. With Death of A Pop Star, we don’t want to change current rap. We just want to add something to it.” —Keith Murphy