REVIEW: David Banner Creates A Black Leadership Manual With “Before The Box”

Classic Material From David Banner!

Dear Casual & Dedicated Hip-Hop Fan,

The new mixtape album from David Banner is dope. Plain and simple. Not only is Before The Box dope, but it’s a work of art that masterfully wraps up  – with a a bow on top – superior lyricism in every way imaginable. I’m talking bars. Furthermore, one of the most underrated producer/rapper’s brings the beats too, melodic, bangin’ and bass-laden. The men get what they love and the women get what they love too. Heck, even the voyeur and the culture vulture can take an honest look into the mind of a Black man with Before The Box. In the recent past, the Mississippi native was ahead of his time, but thanks to some similarly-minded family named J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, people are more palatable to the messaging from their seasoned kinfolk. Banner offers a more revolutionary, dense, brash and unapologetic approach to conscious music. For example, “Evil Knievil,” he states:

They gave us Obama like
It was gonna stop the fight
Like it was gonna stop the cause
Folks still scraping
Trying to find them some socks and drawers
And something to eat
The IRS is coming so I’m back on these beats!
Barack pushed hope, Reagan pushed dope
Clinton pushed something down a young gal’s throat
Yah, and since we talking about throats
White folks, what do you know about ropes?
Yah, what you know about trees
And men swinging from them, that look like me!?
How do you say that don’t affect us?
Tuskegee, how you let them infect us?
It’s fear of the black semen
Putting sage on this page to eradicate these demons
This for Tulsa, Oklahoma, this for Rosewood!
This for Philly when the cops bombed the whole hood
This for Harlem when the pigs stop and frisk
All my folks from the Congo tell Belgium suck a, suck a
Boy Wonder? No, I meant Dick Grayson
I’m essential like the Moors were to the Masons
The Kush, the black push
Aborigines I love you, take back the bush
Oh, we are back on presidents
George was so irrelevant
But he did send the country to hell
And a lot of black folks to jail
If we are blind, that’s fine
I’ll mime then I’ll spit it in braille
Drop an F-bomb in cursive, and put that w#### in the mail
P.O.s (POST OFFICES) they are about to shut down
I was on my way to Heaven then I stopped and turned around
The government yeah, it did shut down!
I was on my way to Heaven but I stopped and turned around for my people!
I try to never leave you!
This is a war against evil… Knievil

Keep it real. So-called conscious rap has a crisis. It often lacks swagger. It can be corny. There is seemingly little place for it in the commercial marketplace. These issues present a clear and present danger to the genre. Clearly, this is not always the case, but through the years, it has been problematic. David Banner is one of the few acts that  boldly defies the issues plaguing message-oriented Hip-Hop through the years. Before The Box is the precursor to The God Box and Banner doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this opus is a free album with classic stamped all over it.

A number of the songs have been released already, but contextualized they feel brand new on Before The Box. The mixtape blasts off with the voice of the late Pimp C on “My Uzi,” featuring the young sage Big K.R.I.T. and the O.G. emeritus Bun B. This banger is a fitting start to an audio journey that whirls around like a roller coaster. “My Uzi” is produced by D.B., but the end of the song take it to a higher level thanks to a orchestral “score” by John Debney. “I got a chance to travel the internationally and I got to see the way America was depicting Black men and for the most part, it was rap videos..and we looked really bad. And I couldn’t be a part of that,” he says during the sonic break.

“Black Lives Matter” music is all the rage these days, but David Banner is a different sort of emcee. You realize this mixtape doubles as Black Man Leadership manual in additional to straight-up riding music. “Black Fist,” “Evil Knievil” and “La Policia” (featuring T.I. and Kap G) are soundtracks to the revolution in the streets. Ernestine Johnson bodies “Evil Knievil” with a potent poem. Tip croons, “We know when they pull us over, they gonna pull us outta that car / they know they can’t fk with us, learned early keep ya mouth closed…fk the polica everybody.” Banner then proceeds to spew bars about dead youth like 19-year old Mike Brown and 7-year old Aiyana Jones, both of which were slain by police that were not prosecuted.

Because of the quality, it is difficult to remember that Before The Box is just a promotional precursor to The God Box, David Banner’s highly anticipated album. (Pre-order #theGodbox Album now! May 13, 2016!) Notable contributions include Chris Brown, Jasiri X (Check out Black Liberation Theology), Coke Bumaye, Savvy, Tricky 45, Hollywood Luck and Big K.R.I.T., who makes multiple awesome appearances on Before The Box. The album shares 16 tracks that are seamlessly joined together through various skits, speeches and monologues by Banner, Minister Louis Farrakhan and others.

Before The Box is periodically broken up by emotive songs like “Marry Me,” “Blow In The Wind” and the deceptively conscious “Swag.” Overall, David Banner clearly has reached the point of no return. That point where one crosses that line and it is understood the matrix is the enemy. That is a wondrous space for classic material that exudes relentless rebellious, freedom and forward-thinking music. This is more than an album. Before The Box is a critical essay of the dire times we live in and also, to some extent, a pathway to liberation for Black people. Protests and marches alone won’t create that paradigm shift and Banner understands this all too well. Critical changes in thought, music, action, activism, leadership are paramount. Now the question is, “Will people get it?”  That is up for you to answer.

All that said, I really love this album/mixtape.


Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur, AllHipHop CEO & Founder

Listen to The God Box  and read the credits below.

Mixtape Credits

Artwork by Manzel Bowman @Artxman

Mixtape concept by David Banner and Thomas Burroughs (Thomas did most of the work!)


“My Uzi” featuring BIG K.R.I.T.  And UGK

PRODUCED BY: David Banner – Burroughs



“Black Fist”  featuring TITO LO

PRODUCED BY: Street Symphony, 8X8 and D.O. Speaks


“Evil Knievil” featuring Ernestine Johnson

PRODUCED BY: Seige Monstrosity


“La Policia” remix  featuring Kap G & T.I.

PRODUCED BY: Squat Beats


“Marry Me” featuring Rudy Currence

PRODUCED BY: David Banner and Rudy Currence


“Blow In The Wind” featuring Coke Bumaye, Savvy, Tricky 45, Hollywood Luck

PRODUCED BY: David Banner and Swiff D


“Black Liberation Theology Part 1” Feat Jasiri X & Tyhir Frost



“Pain” featuring Coke Bumaye, Tito LO, Big K.R.I.T.

PRODUCED BY: Quintele “87” Amos


“Welcome To Mississippi”  featuring Savvy, Coke Bumaye & Tricky 45

PRODUCED BY: David Banner


“Warrior interlude”  featuring DJ EFN 

Producer: DaVincci, Miami Beat Wave


“The Cross”  featuring X



“Malcolm X (A Song For Me)”  

PRODUCED BY: David Banner



“Believe” featuring Big K.R.I.T.




PRODUCED BY: David Banner & Swiff D


“Amazing”  featuring Chris Brown

PRODUCED BY: David Banner & Swiff D


“My Uzi” (chopped & screwed) – Michael 5000 Watts featuring BIG K.R.I.T.  UGK

PRODUCED BY: David Banner