12 June, 2012@1:32 pm
Let us get one thing understood, and that is that controversy sells. As someone who is certainly not oblivious to this, David Banner decides to experiment under that very premise. With his latest effort appropriately titled Sex, Drugs, and Video Games, Banner attempts to challenge the masses while feeding them what they want. All three of these topics are controversial in their own rights, and often make up the bulk of what mainstream music is offered to the casual listener. By making light of what the public so willingly accepts, Banner poses the question of why is this all that we want to hear?
The best way to answer that question is to get right into the heart of the issue, as Banner opens up with the title track. Backed with some triumphant horns that draw you in, Banner gives you all of his criticisms over a track that will force you to nod your head with it. He even pokes fun at his own work, as he has certainly made songs that contradict the very message of this album.
“Let me say; that I’m a tad bit embarrassed
That white folks think it’s cool that it’s niggas off in Paris.”
Went to Africa, a childs said, Banner now its on
I’m a nigga ‘til I die cuz I heard it in your song
Real hoes get down on the floor. How I know?
Cuz I bought your fuckin’ CD and that picture told me so”
You would be hard pressed to find a more descriptive body of lyrics on this project. Banner is not only putting the culture on display, but he’s willing to start with himself, and personal accountability holds more weight than subliminal dissing ever could.
Of course this album isn’t about drilling the plights of the world into your brain. The Big Krit assisted “Believe” gives you a song that could easily become a summer time anthem if placed in the right hands. Sampling the classic Jodeci cut, “Love U 4 Life”, the two Mississippi natives disguise an ode to their home state as a well-crafted love ballad for the rap masses. The collaboration is one of many as Banner has a cast filled with artists he’s collaborated with over the years. Chris Brown, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, and ASAP Rocky all join him on at least one version of “Yao Ming”. Kardinal Offishal helps dissect everything wrong with what people seem to cherish on “Swag”, which shares the name of one the most over used terms in Hip-Hop today.
While the album is filled with brief interludes that has a robotic voice asking thought provoking question, at some point David Banner’s attempts at enlightenment fall short. It’s as if his objective somehow gets lost halfway through the mission. Songs like “I Look Good”, “Castle In Brooklyn”, and “Work” offer no substance. Even with the guests added on both “Yao Ming” tracks, neither of those records offer insight on anything beyond what Banner is supposed to be challenging in the first place. While he brings listeners back into introspective territory with “Malcom X (A Song To Me)” it’s not nearly enough to counter the lack of substance that it’s mixed up in. Which would actually make the message in that song even more powerful as Banner high lights all of the things that is praised, and puts to shame thoughts of glorifying all instances of ignorance that he mentions. Unfortunately the length of this album drags the project to the point where even this is forgotten.
Sex, Drugs, and Video Games as a concept is a brilliant one at that. David Banner puts the culture that Hip-Hop has created under a microscope, and holds everyone including him self, accountable for it. Unfortunately at times it seems that during his quest for enlightenment, Banner loses his way. What makes that so intriguing, is that it almost makes you wonder if that was all apart of his plan. Perhaps Banner is trying to demonstrate that even the most critical of people can easily be dissuaded from their thoughts. Then again, maybe that’s not what he was aiming for at all. In the end it’s subjective, and it’s up to the listener to decide for themselves why is Sex, Drugs, and Video Games all they choose to accept.
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