"Death of a Pop Star" by David Banner and 9th Wonder

David Banner and 9th Wonder
Death of a Pop Star

E1 Music
2010

Review

The hallmark of a good Hip-Hop producer is that they can elevate the flow of whoever picks up the mic to rap over their beats. Ill producers can make a good MC great and a so-so MC decent. In 9th Wonder you have an amazing producer who started out with an amazing MC in Phonte. Since then, he's worked with a Murs and Buckshot and now he finds himself handling the production duties for David Banner for a pairing that I would consider to be very unlikely. Being the quality producer that he is, I feel that he does manage to elevate David Banner on the tracks where Banner is just OK and on a couple of occasions elevates Banner's good performance to greatness.

That the production on this album is solid is to be expected. 9th Wonder almost never lets me down in that department. This album is notable also for a track where 9th takes the microphone duties himself alongside Erykah Badu on "Silly". 9th does a good job on the song and it sort of makes you wonder what a true 9th Wonder solo record would sound like. The M.O. is still soul samples and fresh sounding drum loops - only this time the MC is a straight up Southern MC. This is what makes the pairing seem so unlikely in that 9th isn't really known for the Southern-fied bass-heavy beats that folks like Ludacris (who guests on the album) or Lil' Jon would be right at home with. It's surprising to me then that this combination works so well - although it seems to be more of David Banner slightly adjusting to 9th's style than vice-a-versa.

When it doesn't work, it's usually because 9th is on some smoothed out shit while David Banner is aggressively attacking the track when he should be holding back a bit. The issue isn't one of lyrical skill - which David Banner has plenty of - but rather with a disjointing contrast in styles. The other minor annoyance is David Banner's guttural noise.

Let's talk about that, um, noise that David Banner makes. Now, rappers making strange noises on their records is not really new. Master P did it. Jay-Z does it ("jah it's your boy")...hell DMX used to bark on the records. David Banner does this guttural "yeah" a bit too much on this album. Frankly, it's distracting in the same way a Sean Puffy P-Diddy Dirty Money Combs "yeah, take that" is, was, and always will be on any record. David Banner: please stop making that noise...no, really, just stop. It's distracting, it adds nothing to the music, and is super ultra uncessary and annoying.

Now that that's out of the way, "Slow Down" and "Stutter" are songs that show that potential promise of the duo. Ridiculous beats and a less aggressive flow with some clever lyrics. Take the following from "Slow Down":

They call me David Banner I'm like baby what it is
You like oh you looking good why don't me and you have some kids
I'm like hell nah cause I'm all over 9th Wonder beats
(you need to slow it down) You can come a take a seat
You look good they way that I'm grippin up on this wood in this Cadillac
And all I want to do is get you on your back

This duo works better than I would have expected it to. 9th Wonder amazes on the boards and when David Banner allows his flow to integrate with the production, it makes for some great Hip-Hop music. Let's hope these two work together again and hopefully work on making their chemistry a bit more consistent.

3.800 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Diamonds on My Pinky (02:19) 3
2. No Denying (Channel 3) (02:13) 3
3. Mas 4 (01:20) 3
4. The Light (04:18) 4
5. Slow Down (feat. Heather Victoria) (03:20) 5
6. Be With You (feat. Ludacris & Marsha Ambrosius) (03:21) 4
7. Stutter (feat. Anthony Hamilton) (03:25) 5
8. Silly (feat. Erykah Badu) (02:08) 4
9. Something Is Wrong (feat. Lisa Ivey) (03:49) 3
10. Strange (feat. Big Remo) (04:21) 4