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Unchained Spirit

Buju Banton

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Album Review

The once controversial Buju Banton, vilified for his anti-homosexual sentiments on his early single "Boom Bye Bye" and for his typically violent and slack dancehall, artistically turned the corner in 1995 with the release of the conscious and wistful Til Shiloh. The follow-up in 1998, Inna Heights, was equally spiritual and devoid of negativity. The third installment in this awakening is Unchained Spirit, released in September of 2000: a vital and rhythmic mix of homegrown Jamaican philosophy, biblical harmonizing, and just plain eerie dancehall. Banton sets the album off with a slow chant of "Psalm 23," giving the album a spiritual center with which the rest radiates. The stunning duet with the silk-throated Luciano, "We'll Be Alright," is simply a beautiful song as is "Pull It Up," Banton's duet with elder dancehall crooner Beres Hammond. Political and social themes abound in tracks like "Sudan," "Law & Order," and "Guns & Bombs," but, to round things off a bit, Banton returns to his roots with an ode to the females, "Women Dem Phat." There is even an ambitious experimental collaboration with ska-punk band Rancid on "No More Misty Days." While not without its dull moments, this album favors heavy rotation. Banton's vocal ability is filled with depth and soulful texture that invite the listener to accompany him on his spiritual journey. His music speaks to enlightenment and wisdom and appeals to peace and positivity. Banton is the rare contemporary artist who uses his medium to uplift with messages of love, peace, and justice. The chorus from "Pull It Up" encapsulates this listening experience: "Pull up da vibes that you're playing/Can you play some more?" Yes Banton, please play some more. ~ M.F. DiBella, Rovi

Biography

Born: July 15, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Buju Banton was one of the most popular dancehall reggae artists of the '90s. Debuting with a series of popular "slack" singles, which drew criticism for their graphic sexuality and homophobia, Banton converted to Rastafarianism and revolutionized dancehall by employing the live instrumentation and social consciousness of classic roots reggae. He first adopted the approach on his 1995 classic 'Til Shiloh, which raised hopes among his fans that he would become dancehall's great international...
Full bio
Unchained Spirit, Buju Banton
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music
  • Released: Aug 22, 2000

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