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"Voice Of Jamaica" was released in 1993 as the third album from the Reggae-Dancehall artist Buju Banton. On the record he gets assistance from the likes of Beres Hammond, Wayne Wonder and even Busta Rhymes as he tried to get his music out to a wider range of listeners outside his homeland of the country named in the title of the LP.
The album gets off to a very nice start as we get a little progression from the sort of thing heard on his two 1992 releases. It's set off with the vocals of a Reggae singer before Buju takes over with his gravelly voice. I thought that the contrast on this tune was intense and so made Buju B's voice empowering to draw you towards it as he drags listeners into this album - which begins with Hip Hop-edged beats.
2. "Red Rose"
Things keep rolling on nicely here. This time around we're taken into a track which has Buju flowing with lots of energy to make you want to feel a part of the music. Here he toasts and sings about a girl who he has his eye on and although it seems that his subject matter is softening, the same simply cannot be said for the way in which he delivers the material and performs the lyrics which he thinks up.
The tempo drops for this tune and I felt that it was a good time for such a change. Here Wayne Wonder gets up on the hook and sings well whilst taking on clear influence from where the contemporary R&B world was going in around this time when Jodeci were amongst the big names making at lot of noise at the time. From there Buju takes over once more and gets things done in the lively way which we expect of him.
This was one of the big singles from the album and one of many which enabled the artist to find crossover success (although this came over a long and drawn-out period from the point he saw notoriety as a 15-year-old singing "Boom Bye Bye". This is a heavy jam from him and features energetic beat to get you moving, and from there the singer does a great job at comign up with catchy melodies to support it.
5. "No Respect"
Buju does a good job with this tune. I felt that if you aren't into this seen and would have a clue about 'riddims' then you'll not see much variety so far on this release, however I felt that it was clear to see how he was stretching himself to see where he could push his music. Here he comes up with a little something which has him slowing down the tempo and rhyming with much more socially-conscious themes.
6. "If Loving Was A Crime"
Brian and Tony Gold come to join Buju for this one. I thought that they did a nice job to support what he does as although the two of them may not have the best voices as Reggae singers, they seem to fit in with the way that Dancehall was moving at the time and so this wasn't much of an issue. This being said, this song saw a clear dip in the standard of the album and didn't have what the others on the album seemed to posses.
7. "Good Body"
Here he's seen to go right in there for a track which has him; once again, going to sing about the sort of girls that he's into. As he's done so on all of his albums up to this point, it seems that by this point he's got enough experience to know exactly where he has to take the music and has done an good job at making for a song which many other people can relate to as he describes women he lusts for.
8. "Wicked Act"
This is a rather significant inclusion on the album as this is one features Busta Rhymes on it. At the time Busta hadn't yet established himself as a true solo artist and had only really done features. However, here he does a nice job at showing how he doesn't just do Hip hop and with his roots in Jamaica, he can really play the part as a Dancehall DJ (rhyming) when working off the energy which Buju gives out.
9. "Tribal War"
Here Buju moves on into some classic Reggae material as he uses the hook of the George Nooks song of the same name to push this tune through. From there we find that Buju makes an effort to flow in a nice way to show that he was moving into a much more spiritual direction with his music (which would be seen much more prominently on his "Til' Shiloh" album. It fits right in here and will a treat to those likely to be impressed by the presence of Terrie Ganzie and Tony Rebel.
10. "A Little More Time"
Buju keeps at the same sort of direction as he takes us on into this one and decides that he wants to make the Reggae side of things much more prominent and doesn't want to water this down in the Hip Hop which was taking over the genre with the Ragga sounds. I thought that it made for a nice tune and one which displays how he's fighting with lots of different styles to come out with what's in his head.
11. "Him Take Off"
This one has some heavy, trippy Hip Hop beats on it and I felt that it was able to drag me in well in the process. From there we find that he chooses to go with rhymes in a lower tempo to usually and I thought that it made his voice sound much heavier on each beat which it falls on. As Hip Hop and Dancehall was meeting again here, I thought that it was a good example to show this end of it (as opposed to the Hip Hop artists taking on Jamaican styles).
This was a popular tune from the artist and one which had him able to use his massive influence to let all around him know about the dangers of not engaging in 'safe sex'. I thought that he did a good job at doing things here as he addresses people directly with his messages and does it in a pretty fun way to make it seem as though he's not doing it in a lecturing type of way which will have annoyed those who heard previous appeals.
13. "Gone A Lead"
This is a lively tune and one which seems to carry the energy of the last one well to keep the momentum going when people are excited about what the music has to offer. Her He does a nice job at laying out a rather general Dancehall tune which you could have expected to hear anywhere out on the riddim scene at the time. However, the power of his voice prevents it from being shunned as filler.
14. "Make My Day"
This time there's really no messing around where the beats are concerned as here were given a cut which has Buju going off over straight Hip Hop beats done in a smooth way. I thought that it was a nice direction to take things in as it contrasts Buju's approach to music completely and so sounds harder when it comes in. I thought it was a highlight of the album and one that you're bound to remember as a stand-out feature.
15. "Operation Ardent"
The album comes to an end with this track. I thought that it was a nice way to end things as we find that he goes out with a track that I thought sounded to be the sort of thing which had got over extremely well with his core fan base and so won't sound too extreme or unlike what you tend to find elsewhere. It's a raw dancehall track from Buju and seems to reflect the overall feel of this album.
Although I'd say that I preferred his early two albums more than this one, it's apparent that this one carries much more substance to it. I thought that the quality was increased through the connection to the roots, but he ensured that he was still current by reaching out to the Hip Hop world and recruiting Busta Rhymes for this project in the process.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Searching - Buju Banton, Sly Dunbar
2 Red Rose - Buju Banton, Donovon Germain
3 Commitment - Buju Banton, Dave Kelly
4 Deportees (Things Change) - Buju Banton, Donovon Germain
5 No Respect - Buju Banton, Steely & Clevie
6 If Loving Was A Crime - Buju Banton, Mikey Bennett
7 Good Body - Bobby "Digital" Dixon, Buju Banton
8 Wicked Act - Buju Banton, Busta Rhyme
9 Tribal War - Buju Banton, Donovon Germain
10 A Little More Time - Buju Banton, Donovon Germain
11 Him Take Off - Buju Banton, Steely & Clevie
12 Willy (Don't Be Silly) - Buju Banton, Donovan Germain, Donovon Germain
13 Gone A Lead - Buju Banton, Steely & Clevie
14 Make My Day - Buju Banton, Dave Kelly
15 Operation Ardent - Buju Banton, Donovan Germain, Donovon Germain
16 Vigilante - Buju Banton
17 Deportees (Things Change) - Buju Banton