Mon | Mar 8, 2021

Leno Banton takes dancehall lovers back to ‘old school’

Published:Tuesday | February 9, 2021 | 12:09 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Leno Banton dubs himself the ‘loverman of this time’.
Leno Banton dubs himself the ‘loverman of this time’.

He may be the son of a ‘Burro’, but he ain’t no fool. Leno Banton says he is very crafty and can take reggae and dancehall lovers to school – old school. As the son of a music industry legend, the up-and-coming recording artiste knows he has big shoes to fill and is already getting a jump on it.

Leno Banton got his start with his single Yardie, released five years ago, and has emerged as a fusionist with a delightful sound and distinct handle on melding the modern with the ‘90s. “As of this moment, I would say my sound and vibe are rooted in reggae and dancehall music, but with a fusion of any other music that I like, which could include any genre, from hip-hop, jazz, soul, R&B, a touch of EDM and, recently, Afrobeats,” the young Banton said of his creative direction.

An effervescent charm oozes from Leno Banton, whether he is paying tribute to the legends, like his father Burro Banton, or candidly venturing into matters of the heart as he expresses love for life and the ladies. “I am embracing the Leno Banton people are seeing now,” said the University of Technology student, who is now on a leave of absence in order to focus on music.

The road has not been all smooth highways, he said, but the love and support he has been getting since 2015 has served as motivation to establish a self-named label Leno Banton Music. Working heavily with New Sounds Productions and Malakhii Records, he has recorded Street Slam, Pina Colada and Texty, and also Brown Sugar, produced by Jeff Kaale from Kenya. All the tracks are featured on his second project, Loverman, an EP filled with airy, book-heavy tales of love and adolescence as he dubs himself the “loverman of this time”.

“It’s a generational thing, not a Shabba thing. I believe everybody back then would say they are a loverman. And now, the part of me that has an old soul, really needs to emerge in now,” Leno Banton said. “Not much of that exists in dancehall music. In today’s society, it’s more about what men can do to the ladies than what we can do for the ladies. This EP is for the women and to demonstrate the yardie vibe of youth in love.”

FATHER’S INFLUENCE

He says that his father has had a great influence on his style and fashion and shows this in the Brown Sugar music video, where most of the wardrobe was taken from Burro Banton’s closet. “That is the era of dancehall I like and the future of where it is headed once again. When it comes to fashion, we see a lot of the influences coming from generations gone. So, especially in February when we celebrate Reggae Month and Black History Month, it is important for me to show my appreciation to the legends who came before us. If I leave a mark on my generation, I would want it to last forever. Like what my pops, Buju Banton, Sean Paul and even Vybz Kartel have done,” he expressed.

Often using a ragamuffin aesthetic, Leno Banton emphasises that the root in reggae and dancehall is “strictly yaad”, but does not feel restricted to it. “I have never really heard my father say anything that is not supportive of the music I am doing and I don’t produce bad music, (so) even though it is a new sound, he understands it as he is a person who understands [that] music evolves,” he said.

The two have collaborated on a couple of tracks, including Better Days, released in Reggae Month 2020, and they plan to give listeners another single, titled Jump Man.

“As far as getting the reach or breaking a certain barrier to become a household name, I haven’t done it as yet. I have also thought about recording covers of my father, like some of my favourites, Boom Wah Dis, Jah Jah Rule, and Badder Dan Dem, but I am really thinking about creating my own legacy as I continue on what he has been doing; inspiration constantly comes from the past,” he said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com