One of the year’s most unexpected collaborations crafted one of the finest albums of 2010. David Banner and 9th Wonder combine to close out a strong year for hip-hop with their first project together Death Of A Pop Star. David Banner’s lyrical abilities are often overshadowed by his rugged dirty south image. This is not the case on Death Of A Pop Star. Between 9th’s consistently soulful yet hard production and guest appearances such as Erykah Badu and Marsha Ambrosius, David Banner shows us a side that we seldom see from the Mississippi MC.
The album opens with a track called “Diamonds on my Pinky”. Judging by the title, one might expect typical radio garbage about a surplus of jewelry. It is quite the contrary, as Banner wastes no time and gets real personal touching on the touchy subject of suicide. He begins the song with the bars: “Dreams is screaming demons hearing death whispers hello / My shell’s strong, my soul’s green lantern wearing yellow, hella week”. He continues to go hard with the line “Like georges for the jerkin, I try suicide but the gun wouldn’t work.” Al though the rest of the Death of a Pop Star isn’t quite as dark, “Diamonds on my Pinky” sets the tone for the rest of the album as an effort by David Banner to keep things conscious. He does so on multiple levels with the song “The Light”. In addition to spitting about politics, religion and the struggles of the ghetto, Banner continues to keep it real and personal when he spits bars about his own individual struggles: (“I struggle with my lust, I struggle with my drinking / I struggle with this weed in my sins I’m sinking / Like the crack of a plumbers ass draws drenched with some gas / I’m running through hell with a match and I’m sprinting fast.”)
On the production side of the things, 9th saves his best work for the songs for the ladies, most notably “Be With You”. Full of mellow sounds and smooth horns, “Be With You” contains a catchy chorus courtesy of Marsha Ambrosius and clever verses from Banner as well as fellow southern MC Ludacris. Ludacris is the only notable rapper featured on the album. The Majority of the features are singers such as Anthony Hamilton, Lisa Ivey and Heather Victoria who is on the song “Slow Down”. “Slow Down” is another joint for the females and features a head nodding bass line that Banner flows tremendously on. “Slow Down” is a song that traditional Banner fans can get down with and at the same time still remains on the conscious path as the rest of the album.
The Lisa Ivey assisted “Something is Wrong” is captivating, especially the third and final verse. In the verse, Banner has a conversation in rhyme regarding sexuality with a homosexual man. Being that homosexuality is a subject rarely discussed in Hip Hop it is commendable that Banner is able to bring it up in such a deliberate context when he spits, “Women Playin Men but what do men play women / I saw one in UGG boots and real tight denims / Man he had applebottoms on / So I walked over to him and asked what’s wrong? What’s wrong / He said what’s wrong with you / Ant nothing wrong with me this is the life I choose / This is what I do so I said whats the use / But if its man on man how the hell we reproduce?”
Death Of A Pop Star is by far David Banner’s Best work to date and arguably some of 9th wonders best work in recent memory. Banner successfully moves in a more intellectual lyrical direction distant from that of songs like “Play” and “Get Like Me” as 9th continues to deliver quality beats. Death Of A Pop Star is a complete project that appeals to everyone from underground hip hop heads to dirty south lovers, and is sure to be enjoyed by many.