David Banner may have stepped away from the mic for two years, but you can’t tell by his sixth solo album—which, in reality, is the best way to describe Sex, Drugs & Video Games. The project is a free release, as Banner and Los Angeles producer Swiff D are responsible for the majority of the album’s production, while features include Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg, Game, Bun B, A$AP Rocky, Don Trip, Big K.R.I.T. and more.
Following the “Intro,” “Sex, Drugs & Video Games,” Banner spits his view on hip-hop’s current state, taking a jab at the widely publicized Common vs. Drake beef. In the same breath, he reminisces on a deeper experience, reflecting on earlier parts of his career. “Our soul is controlled by music that we make/When I die I wanna be known for more than just ‘Play’/Now let me say, that I’m a tad bit embarrassed/That White folks think it’s cool that there’s niggas off in Paris,” he raps. “Went to Africa, a child said, ‘Banner now it’s on/I’m a nigga till I die, ’cause I heard it in your song/‘Real hoes get down on the flo’, how I know?/’Cause I bought your fucking CD and that bitch, it told me so.”
The Mississippi rhymeslinger goes on to address hip-hop’s influence on youth with socially conscious records like “Who’s That,” “Swag Remix,” and the percussion-heavy “Malcolm X,” where, this time around, he encourages his sisters to get off the stripper pole. Enlisting Big K.R.I.T. for “Believe,” an infectious record that samples Jodeci’s “Love U 4 Life,” Banner talks love and loss. Backed by melodic strings, Banner appeals to female fans on “Let Me In” with R&B crooner Tank.
Aside from those tracks, the Southern rapper salutes both coasts while showcasing his infamous Southern bravado. Standout West Coast anthem “Californication” enlists Snoop Dogg, Game, Nipsey Hussle, Ras Kass and Kree for an in depth story. Old-school influenced “Castles in Brooklyn” appropriately features Brooklyn representer Maino and pays homage to the legendary Beastie Boys, sampling “Brass Monkey.” However, the album is not without a Southern collaboration as Trill OG Bun B kicks the real on “Smoked Out.”
While the rapper/producer’s album is a bit lengthy (15 full tracks, 5 interludes), the star-studded features, catchy production and variety of song topics keep the listener attached. SDV proves to be a comprehensive album of club bangers, R&B records, and socially and politically conscious tracks while compiling different sounds into one project. It’s remains to be seen if Banner was actually able to create a new model with this release—he hoped to get 2 million fans to donate $1 each, as part of his 2M1 Movement—but even if he doesn’t reach that lofty goal, he did accomplish putting out a project worth sitting with. —Rachelle Jean-Louis (@RJL24)