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Baker's Dozen

Awakening Songs: Buju Banton's Favourite Music
Zakiya Mckenzie , July 29th, 2020 09:41

As Buju Banton releases his first album in a decade, he guides Zakiya Mckenzie through the songs that shaped him, from discovering dancehall on the school minibus to collaborating with Pharrell Williams


Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Forever Loving Jah’
‘Forever Loving Jah’ is a song that transformed me, I listen to it intensely. “Because just like a tree planted by the rivers of water… everything in life has its purpose, find its reason, in every season”, these are prolific lines that keep me grounded even now. They remind me not to live in the past and not rush ahead of myself. There’s whole lot of love in it, and when I listen to it I feel that love resonating right through. It’s the love Jah Rastafari and nothing can set us apart from that love.

The first time I heard this song was over 30 years ago. I was visiting one of my brethren and we had just finished cooking some oats porridge in a basement in Brooklyn, New York. The song played and he started to bawl! The music really touched him and he bawl! It’s a powerful song, don’t mess with it! I play it regularly and I hope that others can find joy listening to it too.

Your 2001 song ‘I Dare Not Be Ungrateful’ uses the same musical arrangement as Forever Loving Jah. Was that deliberate?

Yeah, when Donovan Germaine produced that song, and Leroy Sibbles and I sang “I dare not be ungrateful to Jah” on the same riddim track, it was a continuation of The Wailers singing “we’ll be forever loving Jah.” That was me reinforcing the hold this song had on me from then. ‘I Dare Not Be Ungrateful’ came about from the same kind of spiritual vibe as ‘Forever Loving Jah’. Whether you call Him Yahweh, Jah, Adonai, whatever you call it, these songs are reminders that there is a person out there singing for you. The man who sings, or play the guitar, even the one who plays the lyre – he is there to give comfort and good energy. And we want to share this, so I and I will be forever and ever loving Jah, and I and I will not be ungrateful for all that he has given me, seen?