The Early Years (90-95)
Buju Banton
HeartBeat Europe
August 10, 2002

Track list
  1. Big It Up
  2. Batty Rider
  3. Have Fi Get Yu Tonight
  4. Love How The Gal Dem Flex
  5. Hotness feat. Heavy D
  6. Bogle
  7. Good Looking Gal
  8. The Only Man
  9. Love Wizard
  10. Gone A Lead
  11. Good Good
  12. She's My Girl
  13. Boom Bye Bye
  14. Why Should I
  15. Stamina Daddy
  16. Mine Behind The Wine
  17. Wicked Dickie feat. Nadine Sutherland
  18. Miss Joan
  19. Bonafide Love feat. Wayne Wonder
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Born on Salt Lane, a so-called "slum" outside Kingston, Buju Banton was the youngest of 15 children. His parents were direct descendants of the independent, rebellious Maroons who fought hard against the British to preserve their freedom. His nickname Buju (meaning breadfruit, a moniker given to chubby children like him) is a reminder of his proud heritage. Much later he took the last name "Banton", a word for talented story tellers, after a favorite performer, Burro Banton. At age 13, he took up the mic to become a sound system deejay. Not long afterward, he began recording.

As a young dancehall deejay in the early '90s, Buju exemplified almost everything that many critics hated about ragga music. With harsh, sexually explicit lyrics, he seemed to encourage nihilism and violence. Still, by 1992, at age 19, Buju was one of Jamaica's biggest dancehall acts with several chart toppers that included such singles as Bogle and "Love Me Browning/Love Black Woman." Later that year he started an international firestorm of controversy with his song Boom Bye Bye which strongly advocated violence and death for Jamaica's batty boys. Hits from that period are Love How The Gal Dem Flex, Good Looking Gal and Stamina Daddy. His debut album 'Mr. Mention' became the most popular reggae album in Jamaican history.

His major label debut, 'Voice of Jamaica', in 1993 marked his change of attitude towards music and life. Perhaps realizing that his negative music would not find a great market outside the Jamaican context, or perhaps just having matured, he has undergone a gradual but tremendous transformation since his early releases. In 1995, the album 'Til Shiloh' changed the face of dancehall music. Instead of relying solely on synthesized and computer generated music, he brought back a studio band complete with horns. Most dramatic were the songs such as the haunting tribute to Jamaican's working poor. "Murderer," released as a single in January 1994, was a powerful condemnation of exploitational sex, gun culture and violence in dancehall music. It was inspired by the shooting deaths of up-and-coming ragga artists Panhead and Dirtsman. The song topped the charts and spawned many imitators. It even inspired some area sound systems to stop playing gun songs. His most consistent album so far, 'Inna Heights' followed in 1997. Some five years later he released the 'Unchained Spirit' album.

This nineteen track album collects his most popular tunes from the beginning of his career until the mid nineties. Here you will find most of his hits, except for his combination hits with Beres Hammand and the wonderful 'Tribal War' with Tony Rebel. As mentioned before you will be surprised about the lyrical content of some of the songs presented here, but regard them as songs that are the foundation of a career that's still going strong. In these tracks the influence of Shabba Ranks is apparent but the energy and humor that have become Buju's trademark are here in force. Although presented as a Penthouse collection, there are several other producers who have contributed songs : Steely & Clevie, Winston Riley, Sly Dunbar, Clifton "Specialist" Dillon, Dave Kelly and Bobby Digital.

Historical stuff!