David Banner: Leading by Example

14 years ago view-show 663,498


By: Will “Deshair” Foskey


       On November 29th, Mississippi native David Banner was honored before 500 lawmakers and 200 students for his tireless efforts standing on the frontline after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc through the Gulf Coast a little over a year ago. The Black Caucus of State Legislators celebrated its 30th Anniversary by presenting David Banner for his humanitarian work throughout his community with a Visionary Award.


      In a conversation between colleagues, David took the opportunity to express his gratitude, his disappointments and his victories as he sat down for a crisp haircut.


We both know that positive news is often swept under the rug, so I wanted to give you this opportunity to talk about the amazing night you’ve just had in your home state of Mississippi.


David Banner: For the most part, the Black Caucus which consists of the black leaders in Congress, assembled in the state of Mississippi for the first time and rewarded me with the Humanitarian Award for all of the things that I have been doing from giving out scholarships, I’ve always had special outreach programs for children, and the personal time that I put in during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was physically in the trenches with the people who affected by the different atrocities.


You’ve taken on an important role in the eyes of the urban community, when you were one of the first people to answer the calls of those who were in distress after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. People are looking towards you as not only a role model, but also as a leader. How do you feel about taking on that type of role?


David Banner: I tell people all the time that one of our problems in the Black community is that people send our leaders to us. For example, who elected Jesse Jackson to speak on behalf of black folks… not any of us? So we have to be very cautious of who we call our leaders. It also happens that a lot of people try to step up to that role of being a leader when they are not ready to handle the responsibilities of the role.


So for you, it’s more of just being a vessel to express the plight of the urban community.


David Banner: Yes, it’s more of being a vessel. And if it’s my calling to be a leader, than I’ll be that. I’m definitely not running away from that though…


On Jay-Z’s latest album, he has a song called, “Minority Report” which is based around the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Have you had a chance to listen to it?


David Banner: I’ve bought Jay-Z’s new album, but I’ve only listened to it once so far, so I can’t really give an accurate assessment on the lyrics. When I first listen to an album, I’m listening for the beats and the hooks.


Well he stated lyrically: Sure I ponied up a million but I didn’t give my time / So in reality I didn’t give a dime or a damn / I just put my money in the hands of the same people who left my people stranded.


Just hearing those lyrics, can you tell me how you feel about Jay talking about his actions…?


David Banner: First of all, I’d like to say that it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, especially in our generation. I honestly feel that it’s not everybody’s position to have done what I’ve done. I feel that a person with the influences of a Jay-Z is more effective in the board room. Jay-Z is more effective sending in a million dollars. Regardless of what I say, that is more powerful than me handing out a box. It’s funny that we’re talking about this, because I’ve had a conversation with Jim Jones along these lines. Jimmy talked about how there was a difference between you giving away 80 pairs of your own shoes and artists with the stature of a Jay-Z or a 50 Cent calling up Reebok and telling them to send out 10,000 pairs of shoes. As much as we might want to feel like we’ve done something bigger on an emotional level, I’d much rather that my people have 10,000 pairs of shoes and I’m not there, compared to me being there and only being able to hand out a few boxes; I hope that you can understand that. Emotionally, we can go at it, tick for tack, but I’d much rather that a person of that stature cut that check. So I respect Jay-Z for the decision he made.


I would like for you to talk about some of the good things that you have going on in your life right now.


David Banner: Everything happening in my life right now is positive. I would like for everybody to know that we have an opportunity after God blesses us to set our hopes so high, and understand that once you get to a certain level, there is no failing. Four years ago, I was homeless, so everything in my life now is positive. I got a show coming out on the Cartoon Network called, “That Crook’d ‘Sip”. I got my first movie that I just completed called, “Black Snake Moan” starring Justin Timberlake, Christina Ricci and the magnificent Samuel L. Jackson. I just finished producing a song for Chris Brown. I’ve submitted some music to Britney Spears, and it’s looking like they are going to accept the submission. Everything in my life is positive right now, I can’t lie to you. I’ve just won this amazing award and even though there was some negativity surrounding me receiving the Humanitarian award, that negativity brought exposure to the dedication to my community that I’ve been putting in all along as a philanthropist. I’m currently working on my fourth album on Universal, my fifth major release and ninth album overall, including my Independent releases. There are not too many people that can say that they’ve released 9 albums and are still relevant.


But I’d like to leave a message with for the fans. One thing about our generation and the younger generation that we need to change is that we need to give our artists a chance to grow. Our artists are not going to be the same person as when their first album was released. You’re not going to like every song that Snoop released; you’re not going to like every song that Jay-Z released, it’s just impossible. My mother told me that being a visionary is a gift as well as a curse. The gift is that God has blessed you with a higher level of understanding that the average person doesn’t have. But the curse is that you can see so far ahead of people that you disconnect from them, waiting for them to catch up with you. So give your favorite artists a chance to grow and in return, grow along with them.






Comments are closed.