Here’s are excerpts from an article on Jamaica’s Buju Banton by Anna-Kaye Kerr (UrbanIslandz): “Buju Banton Covers Vibe Magazine, Talks ‘Upside Down 2020’ Album, Social Media & Reggae.”
Ahead of the release of his highly anticipated album Upside Down 2020, Buju Banton secures the cover of Vibe Magazine in a three-part feature.
Mark Myrie, more popularly known as Buju Banton, is regarded as a musical icon. His career has spanned decades, and he has had a phenomenal impact on the lives of many. Following a seven-year bid in a US prison, Buju finally returned home in December 2018 to the welcoming arms of the Jamaican people. What was next to come? Buju’s last album, “Before the Dawn” was released on September 28, 2010, almost a decade ago. Now he quells the desires of his loving fans as he prepares to drop his new album on Friday, June 26, which is only hours away. “Upside Down 2020” will be Buju Banton’s thirteenth studio album. It features the likes of Stephen Marley, Tory Lanez, Stefflon Don, John Legend, and Pharrell Williams.
A man of the people, Buju Banton vows to continually make music that communicates with those who are not able to put their feelings into words. Instead, the music will speak for them. Taking the opportunity to sit down with the incredible dancehall and reggae artiste, Vibe Magazine interviewed Buju at length, and the end result was monumental. Speaking on his love of music, his incarceration, his friendships, his Instagram followers, and his journey to recording a new album, Buju gives Vibe an all-access pass.
Diving head-first into the new album, a compilation of 20 songs, Vibe magazine breaks the project down in its entirety. With 10 songs representing the 10 years he was unable to make music and 10 songs to take us on a new journey forward, “Upside Down 2020” is an inspirational masterpiece. Consisting of genres such as dancehall, reggae, R&B, and pop, the album will have something for everyone.
Upon breaking down Buju’s song “Yes Mi Friend,” Vibe delves into the beautiful friendship Buju shares with Stephen Marley. “Yes Mi Friend” was inspired by The Wailers 1970 hit “Duppy Conqueror”. Buju was able to perform this track with Stephen back in 2011 after his lawyer convinced a judge that he needed the proceeds from the concert to fund his trial. Given only one night out of prison, “Duppy Conqueror” conveyed the wealth of emotions running through Buju at the time. Being able to sing with his close friend made the occasion more momentous. Having first-hand experience in Buju’s legal woes, Stephen committed to posting his Florida home as collateral to secure Buju’s bail.
That truly devastating time in Buju Banton’s life is extremely difficult to acknowledge verbally. So tracks “Yes Mi Friend” and “Buried Alive” cover all that took place in that dark time. On the latter track, he sings, “I was buried alive, but I’m still breathing. Don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I’ve got a feeling.” [. . .]