Buju Banton is back in dancehall form with new LP, 'Upside Down 2020'
For decades, the sounds of Jamaica, including reggae and dancehall, have had a monstrous influence on dance music, with Jamaica’s musical history laying the groundwork for various electronic genres, including dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass.
These genres, co-opted by contemporary superstars like Skrillex and Zeds Dead, were born from stalwarts like Buju Banton. Since the early ’90s Buju Banton, born Mark Myrie, has credited his hometown, Kingston, Jamaica, as the undisputed source of these now prominent styles.
Listeners can now find Banton returning to dancehall form on Upside Down 2020, his first LP in almost a decade. The album is an epic 72 minute, 20-song journey through Banton’s musical inclinations. On it, streamers will find previously released singles like “Steppa,” “Memories,” and “Trust,” as well as collaborations with modern tastemakers like Pharrell Williams, Stefflon Don, and John Legend.
Importantly, each track honors Banton’s homeland. Although Jamaican influence is audible throughout the production, it is especially apparent on Banton’s collaboration with Stephen Marley on “Yes Mi Friend,” a rework of Marley’s father’s timeless classic, “Duppy Conquerer.” It also manifests in themes common to the Jamaican sound that Banton helped define, specifically, standing up for what’s right and taking things easy.