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Art Buying 101

Verses & Flows David Banner


Spoken Word comes honestly to Mississippi's own DAVID BANNER, from his days at Southern University at Baton Rouge when he spit verses on a regular basis to anyone that would listen. After securing a business degree from the university, he capitalized on his gift for wordplay, turning it into a record deal with SRC/ Universal. Recently, the platinum-selling artist spoke with about his college days, the importance of butterflies, and a Verses & Flow experience he'll never forget.

LA: You received your business degree from Southern University. Has that degree helped you as you handle your business in your career?

DB: Well, there's no doubt the degree has helped, but not as much as the college experience itself. The way that going to Southern prepared me for the art of networking, how it helped me bond with classmates through the struggles of attending a Historically Black College and sharing the experience of being broke, which made you depend on others… all of that was invaluable for me.

These days with the Internet, a lot of human interaction is taken for granted. Not with me, though. With the small things I learned in college--everything from shaking hands and knowing that cologne placed in the right spot will leave your scent behind long after you left--it helped prepare me for the real world.

You've put out a lot of albums since the first one in 2000. And now you're becoming a known entity on the spoken word circuit. Which really begs the question, do you prefer one over the other?

Well, I was always a part of the spoken word scene at Southern. That's actually how I became president of the Student Government Association, to tell the truth. While part of a poetry collective, I'd heard folks discussing all that was wrong with the school. So poetry has always been a part of my portfolio, and truthfully, all songs are poetry supported by beats, so it was a natural transition for me to go from spoken word to music. It goes hand in hand, so I really don't have to choose.

How did you come to be involved with Verses & Flow? And what was that experience like for you?

One of my business partners, Corey Smith, is very good friends with one of the talent coordinators with the show. Of course, Corey remembered that I'd performed on Def Poetry back in the day, right after I released my first album, and I ripped it. So he thought it was a good opportunity for me to perform on Verses & Flow, which was a wonderful experience.

You know, I've done a lot over the years, from scoring films and commercials for Gatorade and Capcom. I'm working on my ninth film right now, as a matter of fact. But no matter what I've done, I still get butterflies when I'm about to hit the stage. It was good to be nervous again, to have to dig deep into what I wrote to find the words, to not be able to hide behind the beats and have to articulate every word. I liked that.

Your piece "Swag" is one you performed on the show. It's also a song from your latest project. Tell us what was going through your mind as you were sharing it from the stage.

With a song like that, where the beats go so hard, it's easy to miss the message of the lyrics. A song like that, which talks about the state a lot of us live in today, is so powerful that it transcends spoken word and song. It needed to be heard, and I thank Verses & Flow for allowing me to share it with a national audience.

And you know what, I have to share this. Something happened while I was performing that piece. There was a 70 year old man in the front row. Like, right there, staring at me as I'm preparing to deliver the piece. Usually, when one of our elders hears a curse word coming from a rapper's mouth, they automatically shut down and don't hear the message for what it is. To see this older gentleman not only hear the message, but almost burst into tears after hearing it… for it to mean something to him was one of the most powerful things that's happened to me in a long time. It really did something to me, and I'll never forget it.

So, you're a rapper/songwriter/producer/spoken word artist. What's next for you?

You know, it's whatever God has in store. Like I said before, I've accomplished a lot throughout my career, and sacrificed a lot to be an artist and to be on that grind. The one thing I'm really looking forward to is becoming a father, having someone to pass the things I've learned onto, to have an immediate family. That's what I'm most looking forward to in the near future.

To keep up with David Banner, follow him on Twitter: @therealbanner. And visit for more interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and web-exclusive videos from the talented poets of "Verses & Flow" in the coming weeks.



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