Weekend Pick #2: Buju Banton
Opti-Mystic Soul: Buju
Three-time Grammy nominee Buju Banton has been credited with ushering in dancehall reggae's conscious revival with 1994's "Murderer," an anti-violence tune which preceded the ascension of such artists as Sizzla, Capleton, and Fantan Mojah. Buju began his career in his teens, quickly becoming a popular toaster with a rapid-fire tongue--which occasionally dipped into slackness, as on the sexual prowess-affirming "Stamina Daddy" and the still-controversial "Boom Bye Bye" (which he no longer performs in concert). Yet since converting to Rastafarianism over fifteen years ago, Banton's output has been overwhelmingly positive: In addition to anthems of struggle and redemption ("Untold Stories;" "Not An Easy Road"), he's made nature-affirming odes to the almighty ("Hills and Valleys"), protest statements against gunplay ("Bad Boy") and African genocide ("Sudan"), and retro-dancehall pro-herb tunes ("Driver"). Banton's latest album, Rasta Got Soul, updates Third World's "Sense of Purpose" and finds the artist wallowing in positivity ("Optimistic Soul").
Buju concerts are more than just an opportunity to puff marijuana like Bob Marley and get your ragamuffin on like a Jamaican "modeler"; they're often spiritually-moving experiences which bring audiences closer to Jah. Banton brings the "Rasta Got Soul" tour to Berkeley's Shattuck Down Low on Saturday, along with the Shiloh band, Gramps Morgan (of Morgan Heritage), and Nikki Burt. It's Angel Magik's 8-year anniversary bash, so expect the vibes to be extra-crispy. Purchasing presales are highly advised; this show will likely sell out. (If you miss Banton on Saturday, he'll also be at SF's Rock It Room Monday for a special edition of DeeCee's Soul Shakedown, ya heard?)