Last week Buju Banton posted Upside Down 2020 – the Grammy-winning reggae icon’s debut album in a decade. To celebrate the long-awaited record, we asked Banton to share his favorite tracks in honor of International Reggae Day today, with a stellar playlist featuring everyone from Bob Marley to Burning Spear. . To discover even more great music, visit GQ‘s Vero, where Banton chose five other reggae tracks exclusively for our channel.
‘Cherry Pie’ by Buju Banton with Pharrell Williams
âMy kids and I worked with Pharrell Williams on this – it was a beautiful, beautiful experience. They enjoyed it and I know they came away with a different take and a completely different direction on the way of life.
Barrington Levy’s “Prison Oval Rock”
âI love that song by Barrington Levy, who says ‘Some call it Spanish Town, but a Prison Oval Rock’. For me ‘Prison Oval Rock’ has always been a great start to a party and for some strange reason I still have it on most of my playlists.
“War in the Dance” by Frankie Paul
âWe know this as ‘Warriors In The Dance’, but the correct name is ‘War In The Dance’ by Frankie Paul. It’s also a party starter, if you know what I mean. When that plays out, the dance is going to be off the chain. The atmosphere will be one of a kind.
‘Water Pumpee’ by Tony Tuff
âI love this music, because I grew up in a time when you walked into the dance hall and you heard these songs played, where the DJ turned the backhand into instrumental. The next song to fall into this category is âWater Pumpeeâ by a singer named Tony Tuff. âIt’s strange, oh the danceâ¦â Music has always been a part of our life here in Jamaica. “
“Mind Control” by Stephen Marley
âIf you listen to this song, you will hear the way the proverb presents itself with a message. It is the very essence of music. This is when you can sing, you can dance and have as much fun as you want, but you have to be aware that you are not the only one out there. Other things are going on around you, other people are in a mess, so to speak. So here’s what’s going on.
“Kaya” by Bob Marley
“It’s another favorite of mine. Why ‘Kaya’? Because I love my weed. When you have your kaya in your hand and listen to that, it’s a different feeling, man.
“Johnny B Goode” by Peter Tosh
âThe next song that I like to listen to while I’m in the mood for meditation is ‘Johnny B Goode’ by Peter Tosh. ‘Deep in Jamaica, near Mandevilleâ¦’ I think this song is wonderful. I mean, Peter Tosh absolutely killed him.
‘Marcus Garvey’ of Burning Spear
âI will always respect Burning Spear – he is one of the founding fathers and teachers of reggae music. The first words of this song are “Marcus Garvey words come to pass”. It’s an important piece about a man who stood up when no one else wanted to and spoke up when everyone chose to be quiet.
“A man against the world” by Gregory Isaacs
âThis song that I play regularly. It reminds me [that] the fight is real. ”
“Blessed” by Buju Banton
âLast but not least I want to leave you with one more song, my favorite song from the new album. Why “Blessed”? My tribulations and everything that I have been through and the tribulations and suffering of my people and everything they have been through, no words can explain and no words can express, but we know one thing: we are resilient and always will be, because we know one thing, that we are blessed.
Head toward Vero from GQ to see Buju Banton’s full playlist, along with five other reggae tracks chosen exclusively for our channel. To follow @britishgq on Vero for exclusive musical content and commentary, all the latest music lifestyle news and privileged access to the GQ world, from behind the scenes to recommendations from our editors and top talent.
Upside Down 2020 is out now.
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