Entertainment

No place for 'Til Shiloh

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Friday, January 12, 2018

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The 60th Grammy Awards takes place on January 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. There are five nominees for Best Reggae Album. They are: Chronology by Chronixx; Stony Hill (Damian Marley); Avrakedabra (Morgan Heritage); Lost In Paradise (Common Kings) and Wash House Ting by J Boog.

Today, the Jamaica Observer continues its series reflecting on the Best Reggae Album category.

The Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album has been controversial since it was first held in 1985. One year that stood out was 1996 when Shaggy's Boombastic won.

That year, 'Til Shiloh by Buju Banton failed to make the cut, even though it was arguably the most sensational reggae album released in 1995. Twenty-three years later, it is hailed as one of the genre's finest works.

Rasta Business by Burning Spear, Hi-Bop Ska! The 30th Anniversary (The Skatalites), Live It Up by Third World and Free Like We Want 2 B from Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers were the other nominees in 1996.

Donovan Germain, Banton's mentor and one of the producers who contributed to 'Til Shiloh, said the set was sent to Grammy organisers NARAS (National Academy of Arts Recordings and Sciences) for consideration, but never made the cut.

He recalled that there was no animosity in the Banton camp being overlooked.

“Being nominated was never a factor in our minds, so there was no disappointment. Rolling Stones' acknowledgement as to its importance was welcomed though. We all know the politics involved in the Grammys,” Germain told Splash.

Rolling Stone Magazine was not the only major American publication blown away by 'Til Shiloh, which saw Buju Banton shedding his rude boy image for a more thoughtful role as spiritual messenger.

The Spin Magazine review read:

“The twist is that Buju got conscious, which is inspirational if you're a yardie and hypocritical if all you know is the homophobic humbug of Boom Bye Bye. But the reason he attracted such an infamous fuss in the first place was that voice — an uncontrollably vibrant lickshot of adrenaline. And on these cracking tracks — the stop-the-violence single Murderer, a haunting duet with the late Garnet Silk; Complaint; and the genuine yearning of Wanna Be Loved — he waves it in your face like he just might care.”

Boombastic was a formidable 'opponent'. It sold multi-platinum worldwide and produced two Top 10 hits in the United States: the title song and In The Summertime. The other albums lacked fire and sold poorly.

Ironically, Buju Banton won a Best Reggae Album Grammy in 2011 for Before The Dawn, one of his weaker efforts. The Grammys took place that year on January 26, one day before his second court trial on drug and firearms trafficking began in Tampa, Florida.

He was found guilty and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.

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