After about a decade of silence, a painfully long wait for fans, reggae and dancehall star Buju Banton has made a comeback with a new album titled “Upside Down 2020”, released June 26.
With appearances from Stephen Marley, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, and Stefflon Don, the album is Banton’s first project since he came out of US federal prison in 2018. The album features the artist’s earlier released singles – “Memories”, “Trust”, and “Steppa.” And it presents the legendary artist, who is no doubt an inspiration to several young artists, in excellent form as though he never took a break.
Upside Down 2020 Style
Banton beautifully fuses throwback and modern sounds in 20 tracks, and reintroduces himself in a refreshing way. Each element is deliberate, and the title of the album is inspired by his views of how things are seen in the world today.
“In a world where good is called bad and lies are accepted as truth, and the guilty can be made innocent and the innocent can be made guilty, why wouldn’t I call the album ‘Upside Down’?” Banton said.
Although the Banton couldn’t make much music while in prison, his sound has served as a great influence to many over the past ten years. Speaking in an interview about how mainstream artists are increasingly exploring reggae and dancehall, Banton said, “We don’t want to tell the people a lie. We have to tell the people the truth, and that is reggae music.”
He added, “That’s why we don’t get the mainstream appeal and the mainstream behind us. Because our music is a music aimed at uplifting something inside of you, not outside of you.”
Buju Banton Philosophy
In the new album that Banton considers “an offering to the world,” he expresses his takes on global economic issues and shares feelings that he hasn’t been known to voice before. As always, he demonstrates his musical flexibility and imparts spiritual weight and insight. The new album notably showcases the effect of time and solitude, exhibiting a more seasoned and refined Buju Banton.
As he stated another interview, “Music has been part of my life since I was 16 years old. This gift was given to me by the one of a higher power and so, therefore, I just want to be the messenger I was called to be.
“Our job as musicians is to comfort the people, spread knowledge and upliftment, and so this album was designed musically to uplift, educate, stimulate and eradicate any negativity from the minds of the masses. I want the people to check out this work with a clear conscience and not to compare, but just listen to the music.”
See Buju Banton’s interview with Trevor Noah below:
Buju Banton performs “Buried Alive” from his new album: