In 2009 the nowadays incarcerated reggae Grammy nominee Buju Banton released his much anticipated Rasta Got Soul album. I was heavily disappointed with that effort since I thought Buju had gone too soft.
On his latest album Before the Dawn – released late September last year – he has gone even further towards the soft balladeer style. This is very unfortunate. Buju Banton is a great artist with a voice that is much better suited for heavier riddims. It might just be me, but I have a very hard time accepting his Bob Marley-influenced strained singing.
Before the Dawn is supposedly recorded before he was arrested in Miami on a charge of conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. It might be that the album consists of tunes that were rejected for Rasta Got Soul.
And I can easily understand if these tunes were rejected. Some of them are painful to listen to. The partly acoustic In the Air is best suited for Eurovision Song Contest and No Smoking At All sounds like an embarrassing imitation of Bryan Adams with its rock guitars.
There are some better moments though. Battered & Bruised, Bondage and Struggle Together are decent one drops. But nothing that gets me over excited.
Sadly the poor tunes make the strongest impression on Before the Dawn and it’s therefore nothing to lose sleep over.