Island Def Jam / Universal
Though his name had been bandied about for a little while, this 1995 release was Buju Banton’s international coming-of-age. ‘Til Shiloh gave dancehall what it needed, a political voice that was concerned about more than the punanny. Tunti toasting abound, roots fans always hated the latter Jamaican form for its lack of message and overt sexuality. Banton put relevance back into Jamaican music and was universally hailed for it.
This disc was a triumph and had many folks trumpeting Banton as “the Bob Marley of dancehall.” It didn’t quite work out that way, but this album is genius. It starts off with a wallop. “‘Til I’m Laid to Rest” is a soulful, mournful, acoustic ballad that rips your heartstrings from the root. “Champion” is an anthemic dancehall tune that still packs a powerful punch. Banton teamed up with the legendary Garnett Silk for “Complaint.” And whoever has heard it cannot forget “Chuck It So” or “What Ya Gonna Do?” (which he teamed up with Wayne Wonder for).
Buju was at the top of his form on this album and had delivered the most memorable dancehall album ever produced. While Beenie Man came close and actually did cross-over where Banton could not, no one has been able to top ‘Til Shiloh. Some seven years later, you can still hear tracks being played on community and college radio. While the fact that Banton could not follow up this disc with something even better has lost him the consideration of being in league with Marley, his brilliance on this album cannot be denied. It encapsulated all that dancehall was lacking and all that the music has to offer. If only Banton could re-find the form he had here and give us some more phenomenal music.
Universal Chronicles: http://www.universalchronicles.com