17 Songs, 1 Hour 8 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After two straight years of setting the Jamaican dancehall scene on fire, Buju Banton released his major-label debut, Voice of Jamaica. The sound is professional and polished, giving Banton a new gravitas that was missing from his precocious independent releases. He carries himself as a king, with the utmost control and authority over his craft. The blueprint is the same as in years past, but the luxurious production design makes Banton’s music more elegant and timeless. He delves into all types of songs, from bombastic dancehall (“Red Rose,” “Gone a Lead,” “Deportess (Things Change)”) and tough slow-churning riddims (“No Respect,” “If Loving Was a Crime,” “Him Take Off”) to moments of almost delirious sweetness (“A Little More Time,” “Make My Day”). The influence of American R&B and rap is more prominent than in years past, and Banton even turns in a convincing slice of New York–style hip-hop with “Wicked Act.” Though fans seemed to love his gruffness most when it was contrasted with softly sugarcoated tunes, Banton never changed his tune. Regardless of its setting, his voice was as precise as it was rugged, an instrument of jubilant fury.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After two straight years of setting the Jamaican dancehall scene on fire, Buju Banton released his major-label debut, Voice of Jamaica. The sound is professional and polished, giving Banton a new gravitas that was missing from his precocious independent releases. He carries himself as a king, with the utmost control and authority over his craft. The blueprint is the same as in years past, but the luxurious production design makes Banton’s music more elegant and timeless. He delves into all types of songs, from bombastic dancehall (“Red Rose,” “Gone a Lead,” “Deportess (Things Change)”) and tough slow-churning riddims (“No Respect,” “If Loving Was a Crime,” “Him Take Off”) to moments of almost delirious sweetness (“A Little More Time,” “Make My Day”). The influence of American R&B and rap is more prominent than in years past, and Banton even turns in a convincing slice of New York–style hip-hop with “Wicked Act.” Though fans seemed to love his gruffness most when it was contrasted with softly sugarcoated tunes, Banton never changed his tune. Regardless of its setting, his voice was as precise as it was rugged, an instrument of jubilant fury.

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