David Banner has a message for you. The rapper/producer came to Atlanta a few weeks back to judge the Redbull Emsee National Finals and while he was in town he also delivered a lecture to local college students. The event is all part of a larger project Banner is working on through his 2M1 Movement, which is working to galvanize black artists and business owners around self-empowerment.
Peep our interview with Banner below:
BOSSIP: Talk to us about the empowerment lecture you gave last night? Is it part of a series of lectures or was it a one-off?
DavidBanner: It is a part of a series of lectures that we are putting together later on this year. The whole thing hasn’t been solidified yet, this is more of a litmus test . But it was so successful and so well done that if we are able to pull together all the sponsors and a place to house it there will be more but it has to be on the same level and quality that Atlanta was because it set a precedent. I was telling everyone last night that in order to change, especially black kids, the way they see black businesses, we’ve got to change the way they view themselves. And when people say it’s a black event, we have to bring a sense of quality. All of that is part of changing the business structure for African Americans in America. In order to change the perception of our businesses, we have to first change the perception of ourselves. For me if we are going to do it, it has to be on this level and so far and like I said if Atlanta was an indication of what’s to come, yeah we definitely gonna be touching a lot of people.
BOSSIP: Going into this, did you have a certain set of goals as far as what you wanted to get across?
DavidBanner: My 2M1 movement is 2 million people for one purpose and that purpose is controlling our image. That goes back to what I said. In order for anyone to respect the black image and black culture we have to show other people is that black business can be successful and to respect and support the black culture for African American black business in America. I think we pulled it off last night. I think we were able to show that in order for people to be patrons of our businesses, we have to be patrons of ourselves. There’s a connection of how we see ourselves and how we see black businesses. I’m not speaking about anyone outside my culture, I’m talking about me, I’m talking about us. It can’t help but transfer to outsiders.
BOSSIP: How do we go about taking control of our image?
DB:If you look at most artists, by the time a label gets them they have already got the buzz, they’ve already done the work. They take advantage of the fact that most of us have never had and we don’t know our worth. Whether we’re writing or producing, we do most of the work anyway. So what is to take it a step further and control it? Every other race does.
BOSSIP: It seems like our community has difficulty with that, there’s been some success stories but it just seems like other races are able to that more successfully…
DB: Haven’t we had a problem with how we see ourselves period? We didn’t have problems owning our businesses in the 60′s, we didn’t have problems with our hospitals or teaching our children. It wasn’t until we integrated with the white culture, did we had a problem. We didn’t want to own our own businesses. We wanted to be a part of something. Not doing our own or being our own is when those problem arise. OWNING our own business isn’t our goal.
BOSSIP: So you think that that whole mind set needs to change?
A: I put it to you like this. I can only give the information. If you give people the proper information a sound mind gravitates toward that. You know I’m tired of hearing that black movies aren’t accepted internationally. Urban artists can’t be successful worldwide. But I think what happens is in order for the world to pay for it, we have to pay for it, we have to buy. Be patrons of ourselves. People gravitate towards everything else that we do, from urban fashion to urban music — like hip hop is a part of everything. But we can’t influence people to buy it and that’s the problem. And if you notice the way most of us get our jobs in popular culture is the connection we have with the urban market. They want writers that have their finger on the pulse of urban culture. They want Puff and people like that because they have their print on the urban pulse, ya know what I’m saying? Once that’s not important tomorrow, they wont need any of us. Not the writers, not the commentators. Once we lose that work there won’t be no need to desire to be a part of pop culture.
BOSSIP: What did you take away from the lecture?
DB: That it can be done. I saw that you can do it all the way without any contradictions to the message. If we admit it or not kids want the message and someone to talk to. It’s not about me talking it’s about me listening. They will show up. I have so many people who asked me to please do it again. That showed me that we can do it.
BOSSIP: Where can people go to learn about your movement?
Big shout out to Gina Barbosa and French Spencer for letting us know about this great event.
Hit the flip from photos from the event and info about the Redbull Emsee competition that brought Banner to Atlanta