If there's any rapper that has been appointed the New South's thug poet, it's David Banner, a finance graduate from Southern University who used his major- label debut Mississippi: The Album
to expound on everything from strip club politics to the plight of black people in one of the most economically devastated states in the country. But the most striking aspect of MTA: Baptized in Dirty Water,
his second album in less than a year, is how often the music fails to complement his complicated worldview. Several of the tracks are remixes ("Like A Pimp"), reworkings of Mississippi
cuts ("Pop That"), and compilation tracks ("Christmas Time"). While the first Mississippi
was wildly exuberant and intensely cold-hearted, this effort is just histrionic, failing to sustain the previous album's emotional balancing act. At its nadir is "My Lord," where Banner sings the chorus tunelessly and off-key, so overcome by himself that his would-be ballad transforms into a self-indulgent dirge.
Baptized in Dirty Water is an uncomfortable blend of previously released material with songs that regurgitate the same themes and ideas Banner has explored more effectively elsewhere. Which shouldn't necessarily bother fans; after all, as one friend tells him at the end of "Pop That," "Ain't nobody hate you. If they hate you, they hate God."