by: Harry Levin
by: Harry Levin
Jun 28, 2020
For decades, the sounds of Jamaica, including reggae and dancehall, have had a monstrous influence on dance music, with Jamaica’s musical history laying the groundwork for various electronic genres, including dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass.
These genres, co-opted by contemporary superstars like Skrillex and Zeds Dead, were born from stalwarts like Buju Banton. Since the early ’90s Buju Banton, born Mark Myrie, has credited his hometown, Kingston, Jamaica, as the undisputed source of these now prominent styles.
Listeners can now find Banton returning to dancehall form on Upside Down 2020, his first LP in almost a decade. The album is an epic 72 minute, 20-song journey through Banton’s musical inclinations. On it, streamers will find previously released singles like “Steppa,” “Memories,” and “Trust,” as well as collaborations with modern tastemakers like Pharrell Williams, Stefflon Don, and John Legend.
Importantly, each track honors Banton’s homeland. Although Jamaican influence is audible throughout the production, it is especially apparent on Banton’s collaboration with Stephen Marley on “Yes Mi Friend,” a rework of Marley’s father’s timeless classic, “Duppy Conquerer.” It also manifests in themes common to the Jamaican sound that Banton helped define, specifically, standing up for what’s right and taking things easy.
Featured image: Jean Baptiste Lacroix
Make no mistake—dance music is born from black culture. Without black creators, innovators, selectors, and communities, the electronic dance music we hold so dear would simply not exist. In short, dance music is deeply indebted to the global black community and we need to be doing more. Black artists and artists of color have played a profound role in shaping the sound and culture of dance music and now more than ever, it is necessary for everyone in the music community to stand up for the people that have given us so much. Dancing Astronaut pledges to make every effort to be a better ally, a stronger resource, and a more accountable member of the global dance music community. Black Lives Matter—get involved here: