The producer/rapper talks about his star-studded new (free!) album, why Tupac inspires him, and how he plans to bank $2 million.
David Banner knows he’s got something special on his hands—and you can’t tell him otherwise. With Sex, Drugs and Video Games, his free album (out today), he plans to do a lot more than make people dance or bop their heads. “This will change the game,” the Mississippi producer and rapper said when he stopped by the Complex office to talk about it. “Period.”
Banner wants to make sure one fact is clear: SVD is not a mixtape. It’s been two years since he dropped new material and with a slew a big names featured on the set, there’s been too much money, time, and effort invested to refer to this project that way.
“The initial idea came from Louis C.K.,” Banner said of his decision to bypass record label middlemen and go straight to his fans. The comedian released his special Live at the Beacon Theater without the help of any major network via his website for $5. Banner’s album may be free, but he's convinced he's going to profit in others way. Read on to hear him talk about the artists he’s worked with, the album, and how Tupac’s demise inspired his quest for a family.
Written by Brad Wete (@BradWete)
You’ve been quiet as a rapper for a while, but you’ve been producing for a bunch of artists. What are some upcoming albums we can expect to hear your stuff on?
Lil Wayne. Justin Bieber. Snoop Dogg. Chris Brown. Ne-Yo. So much, my dude. T.I.’s Trouble Man. Kendrick Lamar. A$AP Rocky. I got the opportunity to meet and sit down with A$AP Rocky and be in his environment. I got three on his new album.
Why did you spend so much time away from the mic?
One of the things that are driving all of these artists crazy is the pressure [to constantly be in the forefront]. Back in the day, an artist would put out an album and rest for a year or two.
I do a lot for the next generation and try to make people think, but I also think, 'What about me?' I think about all the millions of dollars I’ve ran through and all the fun my homeboys have had through me. But I never really had fun.
Truthfully, you can’t give people real life stories if you haven’t lived life—if you haven’t had your heart broken and stuff like that. I was talking to one rapper and he was telling me about how he’s in the streets so much. And I Was like, ‘No you’re not. I’ve got your tour schedule. That’s a lie.'
What made you want to return?
God gave me a clear vision. This 2M1 movement is about us controlling our images. I got A$AP Rocky, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, Bun B, and 2 Chainz on there—a star-studded cast. Then I’m giving you 16 videos. This isn’t a mixtape. It’s a free album.
Did all these guys do the features for the love or did you pay them their usual rates?
I get paid well from Gatorade and a few other places. Nothing is free. Those guys got paid for their appearances.
So you’re going hard now. What’s next?
After this two-year run, I’m going to go look for my wife and have me some kids. Think about 'Pac. I think about Tupac a lot. Does 'Pac have children? I don’t think so. So what was it all for? His lineage is done. Finished! So they won! As much as 'Pac did to make people feel good or rile them up, what was it all really for?
So I do a lot for the next generation and try to make people think, but I also think, “What about me?” I think about all the millions of dollars I’ve ran through and all the fun my homeboys have had through me. But I never really had fun. I work hard. It was never about the bitches and the money for me. It was always about my people. So I’m trying to find that balance between being an artist and real life.
Your fans have the option to donate money for SVD. What will you do with that cash?
I’m going to make a lot of money. But it’s not just for me. I have this 2M1 movement, which is that I’m going to get at least two million people to give me at least one dollar. Of that, we’ll give $20,000 to one nonprofit charity, another $20,000 to another charity, and I’m going to pay my people. This entire project is out of my pocket. I spent a lot of money, bruh.
The goal, though, is two build an active fan base of two million people. This will allow us to go straight to the fans. Imagine that. And I’m not going to be parasitic like America is. After I get those two million, I don’t give a shit about the rest. I’m going to super-serve them.