Banner Makes Move With 'Play'

Excerpted from the magazine for

When you share a name with the Incredible Hulk's alter ego, the pressure to live up to the hype can be daunting. So it would not be surprising if rapper/producer David Banner were a tad anxious as the Sept. 20 release date for his third SRC/Universal album, "Certified," approaches. However, with current single "Play" gathering steam with each passing week, anxiety is the last thing he is feeling right now.

After seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, "Play" has reached No. 24 No. 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. For those who think "Play" sounds a lot like the Ying Yang Twins' breakout hit, "Wait (The Whisper Song)," there's a good reason: Both songs are the product of Atlanta producer Mr. ColliPark. "It's part of a movement, a whispering movement," Banner says.

The artist says he wanted to make a song for the ladies and is pleased with the song's success. "The single has blown up so big right now," he enthuses. "It's crazy because this is the first time in my career I've ever had the proper setup. I much rather come out and have all my fans know that the album is coming out."

Universal picked up Banner's first album after it showed signs of success independently and was rushed out to capitalize on the excitement. Similarly, his second album was quickly released to build on the enthusiasm shown for the first project.

So far, "Play" is shaping up to be his biggest single to date. Although "Like a Pimp" from his 2003 debut, "Mississippi: The Album," reached the top spot on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, it peaked at No. 48 on The Billboard Hot 100. "Ain't Got Nothing," the first track off "Certified," peaked at No. 93 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

For the new album, Banner enlisted the help of Lil Jon, Jadakiss, Talib Kweli and Dead Prez, among others. The noted producer, who has crafted tracks for T.I. and Chingy, says fans can expect a bit more experimentation on the album.

"When you're a rapper, you don't really have a lot of room [to experiment]," he says. "I've produced rock for other people, but never recorded a rock song myself," he says, referring to the rock-infused track "X-ed," which he produced, along with nine of the set's 17 tracks.

SRC/Universal is taking a much different marketing approach than that of Banner's previous two albums. In the past, he gave away $50,000 in college scholarships. This time, a grass-roots campaign includes a mix tape featuring five album tracks, promotional appearances and extensive street-team coverage.

"I'm so confident that this is one of the best albums in the last five or six years that I took 'Play,' 'Westside,' 'Ain't Got Nothing,' 'Gangsta Walk' and 'Certified' . . . and said, 'Here, y'all take this.' Those songs are nothing compared to the rest of the stuff that's on the album."

Excerpted from the Aug. 27, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

For information about ordering a copy of the issue, click here.