Death Of A Pop Star Death Of A Pop Star


David Banner & 9th Wonder David Banner & 9th WonderDeath Of A Pop Star

7.1 / 10

David Banner & 9th Wonder  Death Of A Pop Star


David Banner has made a smart move. His alliance with the producer 9th Wonder, one of the gurus of neo boom bap, first as the driving force behind the best years of Little Brother and then solo, as one of the most highly-paid beatmakers in the orthodox underground sphere means that right from the start, we have forgotten the small impact of his previous album, that over-produced, excessive, clumsy “The Greatest History Ever Told”, which in a sense symbolised the creative and popular bubble of crunk, a sub-genre that eroded as quickly and powerfully as it exploded in the media and commercially in the middle of the last decade. So much pressure was put on it, abusing the booming of the scene, that in the end the castle fell down, leaving life and expressive force only to those capable of overcoming the crisis; others saw how their good roll came to a bitter end, among them Banner himself, or the most flagrant case, Lil Jon, former King Midas of the rap kingdom whose own father probably doesn’t remember him today.

9th Wonder, on his part, also needed a little shaking up. His career hadn’t gone downhill so much, nor had he suffered a setback like Banner’s last album, but it is true that his most recent recording so far,“Fornever”, showed signs of stagnation in his collaboration with Murs. So a new, clearly different profile was interesting to him, to help reactivate his sound and move him ahead towards the future. And this is where “Death of a Pop Star” starts to make sense, taking on importance and value. It’s a short, but concise album that will surprise Banner’s potential audience more than Wonder’s, especially because –although both come from the South (the MC from Mississippi, the producer from North Carolina), it seems that the rapper has given up more of his own ground in his creative approach to the former member of Little Brother, who has sacrificed less presence and personality in this duet.

The novelty lies in the manner in which David Banner, always accustomed to sliding his flow in among bounce beats and southern crunk, adapts to a boom bap dynamic, to the typical boxes and drums, a line of action that is more square, more classic, more indie than dirty. The experiment turns out well, with drive and arguments, and manages to make the MC seem even comfortable and well-suited to the change of format. 9th Wonder does his thing, with a sampling of rhythms and loops to which he adds real instrumentation – a side that gives more organic impact to the whole—and they don’t leave his comfort zone, only drifting over into more crunk territory in “The Light”, for example, which stands as one of the few concessions that the ever-praised beatmaker has made consciously to bounce beat sybarites. There is nothing that detracts from the result, which maintains a good level in the key moments of the album.

Aside from this efficient and worthy musical coupling of two authors who in theory were only joined by their geographical origins, it is only fair to point out and emphasise the efforts of David Banner to give his rhymes more relevance and consistency. Our star has never exactly stood out for his skill with a pen, nor for the flow with which he showed his lyrical intentions. But in “Death of a Pop Star” he shows himself to be more competitive and focused than ever, putting all of his efforts and ambitions into the making of a discourse with a strong, markedly political accent—the effects of Katrina are still dogging the southern people, and there is also Obama’s insufficient socio-political management, the institutional abandonment still faced by certain communities—which are more convincing and believable than we would have initially imagined, considering who we’re talking about. A good, exemplary album of creative maturity and expansion, “Death of a Pop Star” satisfies all of the goals set for it, but especially one: that of challenging, motivating, and giving hope to its own authors.

David Broc

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