BORN FOR GREATNESS
Reggae and dancehall superstar Buju Banton has become synonymous with the genre since he first broke through with his international debut and third album overall, 1993’s Voice of Jamaica. The year before, he emerged in his home country thanks to two albums, Stamina Daddy and Mr. Mention. While that success positioned him as a new leading figure in reggae, his ambitions were more global, and from this early era forward he began to plot his reign as one of the genre’s most collaborative artists, reaching across the aisle to work with superstars in a number of different genres. His 2023 LP, BORN FOR GREATNESS, is his most sonically diverse effort to date, dabbling in pop, rap, R&B, and more, whether working with other artists or not. From the opening moments of guitar-heavy “AGELESS TIME,” Banton makes it clear that he’s treading new territory on BORN FOR GREATNESS. His voice is as wonderfully gruff as ever, but here pop-rap melodies mingle with dub-inspired drums and heavy basslines. Elsewhere, on the Victoria Monét-assisted “BODY TOUCHING BODY,” Banton offers up his own take on sultry soul music, rapping to a lover over shuffling percussion before his co-star handles the smooth and sensual chorus. Snoop Dogg makes an appearance on the aptly titled “HIGH LIFE,” and his fellow reggae star Stephen Marley plays sideman on “FEEL A WAY.” With a nimble guest list, Buju Banton is in charge of the show, doing a spectacular job of trying new styles while staying true to his instantly recognizable reggae roots.