Written by Reshma B. for Billboard
“It’s not an easy road,” sang reggae star Buju Banton on a standout track from his classic 1995 album Til Shiloh. “Many see the glamour and the glitter so they think a bed of rose/ Me say, who feels it knows/ Ooh Lord, help me sustain these blows.”
It’s been nine years since the Jamaica-born recording artist was arrested at his home in Florida and eventually convicted on drug-related charges. (Banton had been targeted and pursued for over a year by an undercover federal informant, and it took two trials for the charges to stick.) Since that time his music has remained a staple within reggae and dancehall circles, but Buju’s fans haven’t had much in the way of new music.
Banton’s last studio album, the 10-track project Before the Dawn, was released in September 2010 — one day after his first court case ended in mistrial — and won a Grammy Award for best reggae album. A mere handful of tracks have dropped since then, most notably “Jah Army,” a collaboration with Stephen “Ragga” Marley (who put up his own Florida home to secure bail so Buju could get out of jail while he fought his case) and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. Other releases, including the solo cut “Set Up the Mic” and “Those Dayz,” a collaboration with Agent Sasco, were culled from older recording sessions.