I'll persist in calling this late 2010 album Christian rap because that's what it is, although I wouldn't be comfortable playing it around most people at church, or my parents, or my children, etc. The album's Christian-ness isn't just a matter of David Banner using Christian imagery in his raps. Throughout Death of a Pop Star, Banner grapples with his position as a Christian in a non-Christian world of urban poverty, flashy rap stars, and strip clubs. The results wouldn't please everyone, but that's hardly a Christian's job, is it? An honest mess from a faithful brother.
David Banner & 9th Wonder
Death of a Pop Star
From Sheep & Goats:
In the best song, Banner prays that he might lead his people to “The Light” over a slinky funk bounce built of barks and grunts. He starts the soulful “Slow Down” talking smack to a stripper, and ends up humanizing her — not in any real deep way, but we learn she’s a single mom working two jobs, which is more than you’d get from the Ying Yang Twins. Banner can also sound idiotic — he equates rappers trying to sing with “preachers touchin’ the kids”, and attributes homosexuality to rape-by-stepfather. But that hardly makes him the first Christian blowhard, and anyway, he can rap rings around most such yaks, burrowing deep into 9th Wonder’s inspired grooves. It’s a confounding possibility for what Christian rap can be: dope, spiritually naked, socially perceptive, occasionally stupid and offensive. And hey — if Ludacris wants to offer a hilarious sex rap instead of a testimony, at least Banner got him in the door.
From The Singles Jukebox, where "Be With You" scored a collective 7 out of 10:
Luda’s verses are laugh-out-loud funnier in the context of Death of a Pop Star, one of the more confounding and entertaining Christian rap albums I’ve heard, because he strings his random church and sex images together with such obvious glee, he makes me believe he’s getting away with something. It’s as though Banner invites him to church to give a testimonial, and instead Luda regales the congregation with a blasphemous blow-by-blow account of his Saturday night, and everybody ends up loving him anyway. As a single it’s just a straightforward pick-up/sex rap with some inexplicable God talk thrown in, but 9th Wonder’s track and Banner himself are warm and loose, and Luda’s “offering”/”oxygen” still makes me grin.
Listen to "The Light"!
(Way better than the Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.)