You have to give David Banner credit for not taking credit where credit isn't due. (Follow that?)
While he's never shied away from talking up his own projects, the rapper/producer was refreshingly honest when revealing details about a recent collaboration with Chris Brown. "Most of the time, when I go into the studio to work with artists, I have to vocal-coach them and tighten up some of the lyrics," Banner said. "With Chris, I just had to say, 'Sing another take,' just so I could be involved with it in some kind of way and say I produced the record. But honestly, Chris wrote the record, he vocal-arranged it himself, and I was in there more as a spectator than a producer."
The gospel-inspired song is called "Save Me" and will likely be featured on Brown's upcoming second album. And in return for Banner's, um, work, the R&B newbie is lending his vocals to the Mississippi rapper's next release.
"Chris is actually a really good friend of mine," said Banner, noting that the two even work out at the same Los Angeles gym. "I've been able to see him blossom, and actually it's crazy: Chris tells me he learns a lot from me all the time, but I actually learn a lot from him too. He has been the same way from when I met him when he was working on the first album until where he is now. He has a lot more diamonds on his wrist and a nicer car, but he's the same person."
Besides collaborating in the studio, Banner and Brown are also co-starring in what is the second movie for each, "This Christmas" (see " 'Christmas' Keeps On Giving — Join Chris Brown On Holiday Flick's Set ").
"I always wanted to do a Christmas movie about what really happens for us in the 'hood during Christmas, 'cause Christmas isn't really a good time for people where I'm from," Banner said. "What I do like about 'This Christmas' is it really shows that it doesn't matter what kind of family you have — black, white, Latino — we all bring a lot of problems home. We also bring a lot of light and a lot of joy home too, so 'This Christmas' really shows how this synthesis works."
Banner, who also appears in "Black Snake Moan," opening Friday (March 2), has been using his movie money to subsidize his music career (see "David Banner's Plan To 'Get Money': Put Out 'Best Record Ever,' Amp Up Movie Career"). And the freedom to spend more time in the studio has resulted in what he's boldly calling "the best album ever in history." (We told you he's not shy.)
"When Kanye [West] was trippin' about how he felt like he should have gotten an award [at the MTV Europe Music Awards last fall], I started feeling that, 'cause when I come out this time, if I don't get what I know I deserve, there's gonna be a problem," Banner said (see "Kanye West On Awards Show Bum-Rush: 'It Was Just Out Of Raw Emotion' "). "I have a phenomenal album."
So far, guests include T.I., Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Carl Thomas, Akon and, of course, Brown. "Lil Wayne blessed me with the verse of the century," Banner said. "Akon hit me with the hottest tracks, [as did] Cool & Dre and Lil Jon."
Banner is currently "in a big war" over the album's title but wants something "regal," like his previous release Mississippi: The Album. He attributes the quality of the album to his recent calm demeanor.
"I'm able to listen to a song for four or five months now, and if there's something I feel like I should do better, I do it better," he said.