INNER Heights, the fifth studio album by Buju Banton, turns 25 this month.
Released in November 1997, the 21-track, Grammy-nominated set is produced by Donovan Germain on his Penthouse Records label.
Germain reflects on the production a quarter of a century later.
“Inner Heights was a continuation of the direction of ‘Til Shiloh (1995),” Germain told the Jamaica Observer.
“A lot of the songs were left from ‘Til Shiloh. We had recorded a lot of songs for ‘Til Shiloh project and so when Inner Heights came we had good songs. We made a couple more songs, but it [Inner Heights] was really a continuation of ‘Til Shiloh.
‘Til Shiloh was Buju Banton’s reintroduction to his fans as he explored his newfound Rastafari faith, a departure from the rude-boy and girls lyrics. Jo-Ann Greene of AllMusic said that the album “consolidated his move into social awareness and adopted a more mature, reflective tone that signalled Banton’s arrival as an artiste able to make major creative statements”.
Inner Heights’ track listing includes Our Father in Zion, Hills and Valleys, Destiny, Cry No More, and Circumstances. Featured on the set are Toots Hibbert (54/46), Jahmali (Mother’s Cry), Red Rat (Love Dem Bad), King Stitt (Small Axe), and Beres Hammond (My Woman Now).
Germain, who was conferred an Order of Distinction by the Jamaica Government for his contribution to music in 2015, said it’s hard to find a favourite on the set.
“That’s like asking me which one of my kids is my favourite kids. I love all the songs dem,” he said.
Germain launched Penthouse Records shortly after returning to Jamaica in 1988. The company was pivotal to dancehall music’s international appeal in the 1990s when it released countless hits by Buju Banton, Hammond, Griffiths, Garnett Silk, and Wayne Wonder.
Inner Heights was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, but lost to Sly and Robbie’s Friends.
Buju Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, won the Best Reggae Album Grammy for Beyond the Dawn, released in 2010. His other previous Grammy nominations were Friends for Life (2004), Too Bad (2007), and 2010’s Rasta Got Soul. (Jamaica Observer)