18 Songs, 1 Hour 11 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

David Banner’s Certified became a smash thanks to the hit single “Play,” a song that would feel lascivious even without the nasty lyrics. Prior to Certified, the Mississippi-reared Banner spent several albums (first with his group Crooked Lettaz, then as a solo artist) addressing issues that other rappers wouldn’t touch, including the legacy of slavery in the South and the destruction of the modern black family. Despite an underground reputation as one of the South’s sharpest minds — not to mention one of its hottest producers — Banner languished in obscurity while clients like T.I. shot to the top with tales of drug slinging. If Certified has a theme, it is impenitence; Banner is hellbent on being able to say and be whatever he wants. As he rails in the opener “Lost Souls:” “They done raped grandmama, they done took our land / Now they wonder why a nigga don't give a hot damn.” “Treat Me Like,” “Ain’t Got Nothing,” and “Bloody War” may seem like mindless crunk songs, but they are driven by a far deeper frustration. When Dead Prez are given front and center for “Ridin’” you can feel Banner’s presence: “Niggas sing the blues / That's reminicin' the spiritual / But when you say “God is YOU” / Niggas ain't really hearing you.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

David Banner’s Certified became a smash thanks to the hit single “Play,” a song that would feel lascivious even without the nasty lyrics. Prior to Certified, the Mississippi-reared Banner spent several albums (first with his group Crooked Lettaz, then as a solo artist) addressing issues that other rappers wouldn’t touch, including the legacy of slavery in the South and the destruction of the modern black family. Despite an underground reputation as one of the South’s sharpest minds — not to mention one of its hottest producers — Banner languished in obscurity while clients like T.I. shot to the top with tales of drug slinging. If Certified has a theme, it is impenitence; Banner is hellbent on being able to say and be whatever he wants. As he rails in the opener “Lost Souls:” “They done raped grandmama, they done took our land / Now they wonder why a nigga don't give a hot damn.” “Treat Me Like,” “Ain’t Got Nothing,” and “Bloody War” may seem like mindless crunk songs, but they are driven by a far deeper frustration. When Dead Prez are given front and center for “Ridin’” you can feel Banner’s presence: “Niggas sing the blues / That's reminicin' the spiritual / But when you say “God is YOU” / Niggas ain't really hearing you.”

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