Upside Down 2020

Upside Down 2020

Ten years is a long time to mull things over. Opening with a gospel hymn (“Lamb of God”) and traversing an eclectic mash-up of dancehall (“Blessed,” “Steppa”), Latin pop (the Pharrell-featuring “Cherry Pie”), lighthearted ska (“Good Time Girl”), and stark, defiant roots (“400 Years”), Buju Banton’s first album since 2010’s Before the Dawn has the guts and urgency of someone staking their claim for the first time. He’s grateful (most of those 10 years were spent in prison on federal drug charges), uplifting (“Unity”), and even makes a little time for romance (the John Legend-featuring “Memories”). But most of all, Banton sounds like what he’s always been: a voice of the people, with a sharp eye trained on the road ahead. “How will we feed our little boys and girls?” he asks on “Rising Up,” his voice pleading. “Have you ever seen water carried in a basket?”

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