On June 26th 2020, Buju Banton released his first album in a decade since his 2018 release from prison. “Upside Down” is indeed a conquering unveiling of 20 tracks for this artist who has never really left our consciousness. It features guest from across genres including Stefflon Don, John Legend, Pharrell and Stephen Marley. In true Gargamel style, he reminds us of the important values of life in tracks like ‘Helping Hand’. It gives us the inspiration we need in times of increasing divisions between peoples on the basis of askew political ideologies in tracks like ‘Blessed’, ‘Rising Up’, ‘The World is Changing’, ‘400 Years’ and ‘Unity.’ The latter of which gives us pure Fela Kuti spirit! He gives us a look at his views on the beauty of women, romance and understanding partnership in the pursuit of love in ‘Appreciated’, ‘Call Me’, ‘Moonlight Love’, ‘Lovely State of Mind’ and ‘Cherry Pie’. A sexual divinity and sensual energy oozing from the Stefflon Don collaboration on ‘Call Me.’
We even see him sharing with us some vulnerability of love lost in ‘Memories’ which features John Legend, ‘Cheated’ and in the groove of ‘Good Time Girl’ reminiscent of his 2009 release, Sleepless Night. Tracks like Trust, Steppa, and Beat them Bad give us that edgy, growling strength that only Buju Banton can deliver on, telling us the stories of tribulation in our most underserved communities and how we always survive by any means necessary. Trust may be giving us a peek into what led to his incarceration, a warning on the dangers of an over-reliance and intrusion of technology in our lives and of the people who weaponized it against us. He also shared with us his prayer of thanksgiving for how far he has come on his odyssey of life through songs, ‘Yes Mi Friend’, ‘Buried Alive’ and ‘Lamb of God.’
Upside Down calls us to look at life with a clear vision in a time when the life we know has indeed been turned upside down. It’s a complete buffet of creative musical artistry from production to its literature. A connoisseur of rumbling spiritual upliftment and inspired accountability to self through his lyrics, voice and humanity, Buju Banton gifted us with an album of cross-pollinated genres from Jazz to Pop while still not divorcing from his dancehall and reggae roots. He has not missed a beat! The legacy lives on! The Champion Black man is continuing to fulfil his destiny.
Check out the album here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuPuDTfWmjw5Db8tbe_EA5EiKkA9i9b-P