Reggae star Buju Banton is ending his fruitful 2019 with some exciting news. The Grammy winner has inked a partnership deal with JAY-Z‘s Roc Nation with the help of Rihanna, making him only the second Jamaican reggae artist to represent the name after Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.
“The connection came about through my association with the great queen, Miss Rihanna herself,” Banton said to the Rolling Stone. “A great guy who works alongside her, Omar Grant,” — the A&R of Rihanna’s Talk That Talk and Anti albums, and current co-president of Roc Nation — “we started working together on small stuff, and the idea [of collaborating] came about.” He also touches on some of the priorities he shares with Roc Nation, including, “to do things independently and show that we can foster a unity in our people that can’t be emulated anywhere else” and “their affinity to the prison reform situation that’s going on over in America, that’s something I can identify with.”
“It’s an honor to work with a legend and trailblazer of Buju’s caliber — His music catalog is simply unparalleled,” Grant and fellow Roc Nation co-president Shari Bryant said. “We’re thrilled to help propel his legacy forward and look forward to amplifying his resurgence on a global level.”
To celebrate the partnership, Banton has shared a visual for his newest single, “Steppa.” The track follows “Bigga Mouth,” “False Pretense,” “Country for Sale” and “Trust” — all released within this 2019 — and sees a celebration-gone-bad in the beautiful island. Banton is able to rewind time and prevent the act of violence from happening, taking the guns away from the possible suspects. “A certain culture has taken on a life of its own and become a monster,” he explained. “Things are not the way they used to be — crime and violence, the gap between the rich and the poor,” he continues. “Wasn’t that always my role, to bring some civility and some consciousness to human existence, to the music? I’ve not changed.”
As Banton closes out the decade, he hopes to have a full-length release by 2020. “I’m without a plan,” he said. “A plan — that is too much of a strong word. We’re working on a fellowship.” If he does manage to drop an album next year, it’ll be followup to 2010’s Before the Dawn and his first since being released from his reduced 10-year prison sentence.
Watch Buju Banton’s “Steppa” music video above.
Elsewhere in music, Madlib has confirmed the completion of the new Black Star album.