Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton albums will go head to head to a true clash of the titans.
Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton seem to have a lot in common these days. In addition to the fact that they are both prolific Jamaican artistes and songwriters with international acclaim who’ve coincidentally both done prison time, they are also legends in their own right who are each set to drop new albums this week. While Vybz Kartel is a dancehall mogul and Buju Banton is a reggae star, the genres often intertwine and compete closely, and it looks like that is bound to happen with their new albums.
Both Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton will be releasing their albums on Friday, June 26th. Many have wondered if it was a calculated move on either part, but the friendly competition has each artiste’s fanbase prepared to go all in to support. Whether you are more of a dancehall than a reggae fan or vice versa, chances are you just want to see these Jamaican artists win. However, only one will emerge on top.
Buju Banton’s thirteenth studio album is called Upside Down 2020, and according to Gargamel, it will feature different genres and musical compositions while still in keeping with the authentic Jamaican sound. In his own words, Buju Banton says the album is for the people, and it sounds to be quite a healing compilation as he’s also expressed that it will uplift and inspire them. In May, Buju discussed the album title, which he says “resonates with having a clear vision; seeing things for what it is” and is also relevant to the year because “mankind is in a state of disarray.”
Joining Buju Banton on Upside Down 2020 are guest stars Stephen Marley, John Legend, Pharrell, and Stefflon Don. The 20-track compilation is double what we got from his last studio album. During a more recent interview with New York radio station Hot 97, Buju said that he believes this album will be great for reggae music. He has partnered with Island UK and Roc Nation to give the catalog a “stronger, more global platform.” It also sounds like Buju’s album will be a suitable playlist for the state of the world today which could hive him a competitive advantage with the theme.
Buju Banton’s impending album is also highly anticipated because of his seven-year prison stint in the U.S. on federal drug charges. Since his return, Buju has set the reggae scene alight again with singles like “Trust” and “Steppa,” but he has not released a full studio album since “Before The Dawn” in 2010, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.
Another Jamaican artist whose last Billboard charting album peaked at No. 2 on the chart in 2016 is Vybz Kartel. His album King of the Dancehall also spawned his Billboard hit “Fever,” which peaked at No. 36 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in February. The deejay, who has been incarcerated for the better part of the last decade, has released several projects since his sentencing. However, he has been referring to his upcoming album as “the grammy album” – clearly speaking it into being.
Vybz Kartel’s album slated for release on Friday is called Of Dons and Divas and will feature various local and international dancehall artistes. Among them are Lisa Hyper, Sikka Rhymes, his sons Likkle Addi and Likkle Vybz, as well as Daddy1, Skillibeng, Tommy Lee, and more. Last week, Vybz Kartel dropped the first single off the album titled “Cute Rider” in the form of a “Reggaeton Mix,” according to the dance video’s description. It is unclear if the album will feature a different version or the same one.
In all, Of Dons and Divas will offer 18 songs – 8 for the Dons and 10 for the Divas. The ‘Teacha’ is hoping to score his first Grammy nomination with this his fifteenth studio album. Experts say the dancehall deejay has the resources and connections to earn his votes for the nomination, and he will surely exhaust them.
Both Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton are renowned and profound artists in the industry. While their album release being the same date might just be a mere coincidence, there is no doubt that fans will pit them against each other mentally on instinct. With major label backing and involvement, perhaps Buju Banton has an advantage with his upcoming debut on various charts, but could Vybz Kartel surprise us all and outperform Gargamel?