David Banner Raps From The Perspective Of A Tree Used To Hang Black Men (Audio)

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For nearly 20 years, David Banner has spoken deeply and frequently about issues of race in and out of the recording booth. The MC/producer double-threat hails from Jackson, Mississippi, a place with some ugliness in its past, especially with regards to the prejudice, violence, and institutional racism against Blacks and other people of color.

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After years of preparation, D.B. is preparing to release The God Box this Friday (May 19). Seven years removed from his acclaimed 9th Wonder collaborative LP Death Of A Pop Star, the Crooked Lettaz alum sets up his latest album with sharp imagery. “Magnolia,” featuring CeeLo Green and Raheem DeVaughn, uses Mississippi’s state symbol (and tree) to tell the story of Black men, as Banner sees it.

While Hip-Hop has embraced metaphors (guns, women, drugs, sex), this one—in the tradition of Billie Holiday, is different. Banner, who now is a professional speaker, uses history and nature to confront what is often glossed over, but must never be forgotten.

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Then [the tree] started to tell me how she was used in the lynching of Blacks/ Branch cracked / Broke her arm just so his neck wouldn’t snap / And if I would not have rapped / I’d probably meet the same damn fate / From the same damn rope / I’m about the same damn weight.

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D.B.’s delivery builds to show his hurt and anger at history, and what those trees literally stand for. The onetime SRC Records star builds his fervor as he raps, aiming to chop down the hate and fear. CeeLo first sings, then later delivers a fiery verse of his own, with nimble wordplay through storytelling. “Will he seasons ever change?” he cries, following a chilly reference to strange fruit.

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In a press statement the producer for Lil Wayne and T.I. explains, “The song represents the relationship of trees in Mississippi and Africans throughout history. The taller the tree, the broader the story, the shorter the tree, the more personal the perspective is. My verse is about the relationship of the magnolia tree and African’s during slavery.”

The Roots’ Black Thought and Big K.R.I.T. are among the guests on The God Box.

Premiered at HotNewHipHop.

#BonusBeat: For those interested in more from Banner, his interview with The Breakfast Club less than one month ago is both wildly entertaining and educational:

David discusses The God Box during this interview.