Buju Banton’s Grammy-nominated album Inna Heights marked its silver anniversary yesterday, (November 25).
Inna Heights, which is the Gargamel’s fifth studio album, was originally released on November 25, 1997. Produced by Donovan Germain’s Penthouse Records, it saw guest appearances from Beres Hammond, Jahmali, the late King Stitt, Ras Shiloh, Red Rat, and the late Toots Hibbert.
The album, which was nominated for the Best Reggae Album Grammy at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, had lost out to Sly and Robbie, who took home the trophy for their album, Friends. The riddim twins had also come out ahead of Beenie Man’s Many Moods of Moses, The Wailing Souls’ Psychedelic Souls, and Toots and The Maytals’ Ska Father.
The 21-track Inna Heights, which was a follow-up to Buju’s legendary Til Shiloh album, consists of songs such as Our Father in Zion, Hills and Valleys, Destiny, African Pride, Cry No More and My Woman Now, which featured his close friend Beres Hammond.
The album, which according to producer Donovan Germain in a 2015 Gleaner interview, came from the sessions for ‘Til Shiloh, also featured other popular hits such as Give I Strength featuring Ras Shiloh, Love dem Bad featuring Red Rat, Love Sponge, a remake of Toots Hibbert hit song 54/46 which featured the late Reggae icon himself, and Circumstances.
Upon its release, Inna Heights went to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, where it reigned for eight weeks, and spent a total of 79 weeks, bettered only by Til Shiloh, which had spent 104 weeks on that chart.
Inna Heights has been described by some Reggae fans as a great follow-up to Til Shiloh, continuing the passion and consciousness which made the Kingston native a great modern roots and culture musician.
In a release celebrating the milestone, VP Records noted that Inna Heights furthered his “exploration of roots reggae with such spiritually enriching tunes.”
“The album saw Buju Banton continuing on his trajectory towards global stardom, with a clear vision for the artist he was becoming. Working once again with the veteran Jamaican producer Donovan Germain (of Penthouse Records) Buju delved deeper into his African roots, incorporating many traditional melodies, rhythms and voices from the continent, a theme first explored in Buju’s previous set with Germain, “’Til Shiloh”,” the record label noted.
“Germain was able to capture Buju’s effervescent energy and embellish each song with his trademark sound enriching the spiritual elements of the recording,” VP added, noting that Inna Heights has continued to hold its own since its release with its songs passed down from generation to generation, a verified Roots Reggae classic of the modern era.
Elsewhere on Instagram, several Reggae collectors have been paying tribute to Buju and his Inna Heights.
“This is one of the last great reggae albums, where big anthems sit side by side with authentic roots in a way that has been lost in the 21st century. His career had recovered well following the fall out from a certain song and he had broken through to major label levels without compromising his island roots, ‘Til Shiloh’ in 1995 was the best reggae album released in years,” searchingforvinyl wrote.
“This release is where his MC ability, musical aesthetic and the maturity of his philosophy all came together. There are meditative ‘Inter Lingua’ skits and more commercial hits like the cover of ’54-46 Was My Number’, which dare I say could even improve on the original! There is the obvious classic ‘Hills and Valleys’ which still turns heads today but I rate ‘Give I Strength’ as one of my all time favourite tracks with a bassline which shakes the room,” they added.