“High Life”: Buju Banton on collaboration with Snoop Dogg, upcoming album

Buju Banton has reflected on his new single “High Life” with Snoop Dogg, his forthcoming album and a decades-long career where marijuana has been a sacred, spiritual companion.

In a recent interview with High Times, the Grammy Award winning artiste, who has put out new music across multiple decades and remains relevant, says his next album, expected to drop in July, will mark his first since 2020’s Upside Down 2020 and will aim to once again capitalise on his uplifting and entertaining point of view.

Born Mark Anthony Mayrie,  he recently returned to the airwaves with a new hit single “High Life,” a collaboration with Snoop Dogg that is part of the new album.

About the new single Buju Banton says he was sitting in his yard in Kingston, Jamaica beneath a mango tree when he called Snoop Dogg, who told the dancehall singer he was chilling in his spaceship, which is what the rapper calls his studio. 

“I told him I had a beat and played it for him. I said I had a verse, too—I had a hook—let’s check it out. I sat right under the mango tree and we wrote the lyrics and I taught him how to flow in a Jamaican dialect—how to speak it the right way. I sent the track to him in Los Angeles and was on the phone while he was in the studio and he did his part. It worked just like that and was superb,” Buju Banton tells High Times.

The single, he adds, is tied to a larger project which is coming out in July. 

“I can’t give you the title yet because the title is still undecided, but it shall be a body of work that I’m sure the people of the music community are going to embrace and enjoy.

“The album possesses something extremely rare, something extremely entertaining, something extremely uplifting and the masses are going to truly enjoy it”.

On what role cannabis plays in his life and process, Buju Banton says it means something different to everyone. We know from an earlier time, he says, that the plant can open the minds of men—not being controlled by any other force, whether visible or invisible. 

“So much so, that they outlawed it. The wise men of the time knew of the potentiality of the plant to open the minds of men to the reality of his world.

“When it comes to elders and treating marijuana as a holy sacrament, we choose not to deviate from that common practice of respecting the herb. My dad used to be close with those guys and they’d beat the drum and chant Rastafarian. It was brotherly love, everyone was just irie mellow. When you’re making music when you’re irie and mellow, the masses are going to feel irie and mellow as well. It transcends,” says Buju Banton.

He laments that herb is not the same anymore unlike back when he was growing up in Jamaica and was a fan of Indica and Lamb’s Bread. Now, he only smokes herb that he knows has grown naturally and organic.

“It’s become too commercialised, and as a result, we’ve lost the spirituality. It’s not being shared, it’s not being partaken in. It’s being used. Anything you use, chances are, you might abuse it. And chances are, you run the risk of it abusing you,”he says.

On whether there are times he uses the plant for music creation, Buju Banton emphases that “We don’t use the plant. We partake of the plant, which is older than you, greater than you, wiser than you—you can only share it and partake in it”.

He says he does not believe in using anything to make music. “I use my mind, my creative genius, my spirit. I use language, I use what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard. If I’m going to smoke, my herb’s only going to get me to think about these things more in depth, to peel back the layers. But it’s not to utilise herb to write music. If I need to have a spliff to be creative that would mean I’m an addict. I don’t live my life like that”.

Asked if weed just amplifies what’s already there and his reply is, “of course. That’s what it’s supposed to do”.

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