With Upside Down 2020, Buju’s first album in a decade, he sounds as vital as ever. At 46, his iconic, shape-shifting Cookie Monster voice has retained all of its charisma and versatility, and he traverses roots reggae, lovers rock, ragga, and contemporary dancehall with ease.
On his first album since release from jail on drugs charges, Banton’s visceral caw is similarly uncaged. Wolfishly savouring every smoky, oaked syllable, his secular and religious lyrics intertwine brilliantly with dancehall, roots and rock. These days Buju tries too hard to appeal to everyone, but the twitchily paranoid Trust and 400 Years’ majestic howl of rage are as good as he’s ever been. Is that enough?