David Banner Talks Tea Parties, T.I. & 'Death Of A Pop Star'

David Banner has no filter. Since the late ‘90s when he was a member of Crooked Lettaz, Banner has made a career out of sidestepping rapper stereotypes. Throughout the decade, he's hammered out sneering street anthems (2003’s “Like A Pimp”); a strip club soundtrack (“Play”); and a cross-over rap hit (2008’s Chris Brown assisted “Get Like Me”). But it’s his socially conscious work in and out of the music scene that truly separates the ambitious entertainment mogul from his peers.

From his introspective spiritual take on Black life (“Cadillac’s on 22’s”) to his tireless charity work following the devastating Hurricane Katrina (In November 2006 Banner was awarded a Visionary Award by the National Black Caucus of the State Legislature for his relief efforts), the politically-minded talent cannot be placed in a box. Banner’s latest effort, Death Of A Pop Star, a conceptual collaborative album with fellow super producer 9th Wonder due out Nov. 9, dissects the claustrophobic, artistic constraints of the current music scene. It’s yet another bold statement from a man who's also garnered acclaim as a commercial producer and writer of his message-driven “Evolve” Gatorade spot. VIBE sits down with David Banner to talk about the album, the music industry and current affairs. —Keith Murphy

VIBE:  In a recent interview you talked about the inspiration behind Death Of A Pop Star. What was your mindset going into that project?

David Banner: Initially, I was working on my own album when I was going through a lot spiritually and mentally…just growing up. I’ve been able to see just about every aspect of the world, from Third World countries to some of the richest places in Europe and in America. I really got another aspect of how the world looks at Black people, especially young Black males. I didn’t want to die with everyone remembering David Banner for the most for “Play” and “Get Like Me.” Just as a man that bothered me because historically, the only thing people are going to know about you 500 years from now are the things that’s left in books, music and articles. I had a really big problem with that.

So what role did 9th Wonder play in adding on to your legacy?  

Well, I made a list of producers I wanted to work with…it was 9th Wonder, Knots, DJ Khalil, and Madlib. I produce my own music, but I wanted somebody that made me feel different than my music makes me feel. I flew to Mississippi and jumped into my Impala and I started driving. I was going to drive all the way across the United States. My first stop was in North Carolina. I actually met 9th Wonder through a mutual friend, so he was just going to be my first stop, but we hit it off so much beyond music…it was more as black men and what he stood for and his views about life. His views were not exactly like mines, but at the end of the road he wanted the same things for young black men as I did.

The album title is also symbolic of Michael Jackson’s death and what he meant to pop music, right?

That was something that 9th had said, but I think people took it out of context. It wasn’t so much about Michael Jackson. It was that Michael had died around the same time when we started talking about titles for the album. But really it’s about the death of contemporary music. People just look at music as a download. But what they don’t understand is when you get a Lil Wayne on your album, you have to pay for Wayne and you have to get that money back. If you are not able to push units like a Michael or an Usher, how will you be able to possess the power to really move the masses of people? That’s where the power comes in to renegotiate your recording contract; that’s where you have the power to not only move things musically, but to move things socially.

Do you think that because music has become so disposable artists are less inclined to take chances?

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Dr. Dre Released From Hospital, Will Receive 24-Hour Home Care

Dr. Dre was released from L.A. Cedars Sinai Medical Center on Friday (Jan. 15), nearly two weeks after he suffered a reported brain aneurysm. Ice T confirmed the news tweeting, “Just FaceTimed with @drdre. He just made it home. Safe and looking good.”

The 55-year-old music mogul will remain under 24-hour care for the next few weeks as medical professionals continue to monitor his progress. Doctors are still unclear on what caused the aneurysm.

Dre’s hospital release comes days after new details were revealed in his divorce from estranged wife, Nicole Young. According to court documents publicized this week, Nicole accuses Dre, birth name Andre Young, of putting a gun to her head in 2000 and 2001. She also details other alleged abuse incidents in 1995 (before they were married) and in 2016, when he allegedly punched her in the face and kicked down her door.

The Grammy winner has denied Nicole’s abuse claims.

Nicole and Dre tied the knot in 1996. The pair share two adult children, Truice and Truly. Nicole filed for divorce last summer.

In addition to demanding that Dre cover her legal fees, Nicole wants the court to take the abuse allegations into account when “awarding support and fees.” Dre has already agreed to pay $500,000 of Nicole’s legal bills and $2 million in temporary spousal support.

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Cardi B Lands Leading Role In Comedy ‘Assisted Living’

Cardi B is making her way back to the big screen. The Bronx native officially landed her first leading role in the upcoming Paramount comedy, Assisted Living.

According to Variety, Cardi will play a small time crook struggling to find a hiding place after her latest heist fails. Her character, “Amber,” disguises herself as an elderly woman and hides out at her grandmother's nursing home. The film is described as a “raucous comedy” similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and Sister Act.

Paramount acquired the rights to Assisted Living in 2019. The film’s script was penned by This Is Us writer, Kay Oyegun.

Cardi, 28, made her film debut in the 2019 celeb-heavy stripper flick, Hustlers. The “WAP” rapper appears to have hinted at her Assisted Living role in a recent interview with Billboard where she dished on filming scenes for Fast & Furious 9.

“After ‘Hustlers’ I filmed a little bit for 'Fast & Furious' so I felt like ‘I’m ready for this,’ I knew what to expect,” she explained. “But the characters were a little different so I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m going to need more acting classes.’ I’m planning on doing a movie this year and I’m going to be the lead role so I’m like ‘I need to execute this flawlessly.’”

Besides film, Cardi was a judge on the Netflix completion show, Rhythm & Flow, and landed her own Facebook Watch series, Cardi Tries.

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Wendy Williams Reveals She Was Date Raped By ‘80s R&B Singer

Wendy Williams revealed that she was date raped by  ‘80s R&B singer, Sherrick, early in her radio career. The talk show host shared the story with reporters while promoting her Lifetime biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

“He mesmerized me with his twinkling eyes,” she recalled. “He flipped the interview around to where he was interviewing me — I was just gaga over this man and he asked me to go to an album release party with him that night.

“Before the party, I was date raped by him,” said Williams.

Sherrick, born Lamotte Smith, was a member of the group Kagny, whose song is featured on The Last Dragon soundtrack. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1987 and scored a marginal hit with the single “Just Call” off his debut self-titled album. Sherrick struggled with sobriety but declared himself “drug-free” before dying of unknown causes in 1999.

Williams says that she was raped in Sherrick’s Washington D.C. hotel room and it, unfortunately, wasn’t her first time being sexually assaulted. The New Jersey native had been date raped in college. “Those types of things happen to girls all the time and they’ve been happening a lot, to a lot of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and their great-great-grandmothers too.”

From the sounds of it, Sherrick's widow doesn't exactly believe Williams' story. She not only questioned Williams' account but wondered why she waited so long to go public, and why she didn't call police at the time of the incident.

“As I will never minimize or dismiss the horrid actions of sexual assault, I am saddened that Ms. Williams feels the need to publicly make these allegations when the man she is accusing is no longer on this earth to defend himself,” Lynne Conner Smith said in a statement to Page Six.  “Our family does not know Ms. Williams and are not aware of any relationship or encounter they may have had.”

The sexual assault will be chronicled in the film, as well as other details from Williams' life -- like her rise to talk show fame, her battle with drug addiction, and marriage to ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

Wendy Williams: The Movie premieres on Lifetime on Jan. 30.

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