MUSIC PRIZE BATTLE

Jamaican musician Buju Banton performs at the "I Am Legend" concert at Queen's Park Savannah, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago April 21, 2019. Picture taken April 21, 2019.
REUTERS/Andrea De Silva, file

Eagle-eyed reggae music fans are once again cynical about the five choices made by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Science in deciding the best of the sole Jamaican category for 2021.

To their dismay, NARAS named Skip Marley, Toots Hibbert & The Maytals, Maxi Priest, The Wailers and Buju Banton contenders competing for the one coveted music prize in the Best Reggae Album category.

All worthy recorders to potentially snag the coveted golden gramophone, the usual conversation permeates.

Traditionally the argument focused on any nominated Marley. This year is no different, the fast rising Marley in the spotlight is named three times and could walk away with as many.

Nominated for his “Higher Place” he is distinguished in the category his family has established a legacy of winning domination.

Added to that he is named in the same category as collaborator with the Wailers on “One World.”

Skip Marley and Katy Perry perform “Chained to the Rhythm” at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. , Feb. 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson, file

That he is listed collaborator with the group his grandmother Rita and grandfather Bob toured the world seems an idyllic journey fans might indulge.

And that his mother Cedella, a former Melody Maker with her brother Ziggy’s group — also contributed on the same production could prove a gainer for the family.

The 24-year-old lion also gets a nod in the Best r&b song category for collaborating with H.E.R. on “Slow Down.”

Much is always made that any nomination bearing the name Marley gets dibs on winning.

In 2021, Skip Marley’s could pose a triple threat.

However, with the untimely death of Toots Hibbert, Skip’s conquest of the reggae album category may be uncertain.

If tradition prevails with the passing of the icon the Academy may deliver a compromise endorsement who recorded “Got To Be Touch.”

Then there is the Buju factor.

His “Upside Down 2020” offered his first musical package since his release from prison.

Signed to a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label one year after release from serving a 7-year stint for drug-related convictions, despite Covid-19 he received an unprecedented amount of publicity.

That Kanye West visited him in Jamaica amid a slew of pandemic restrictions fans are hoping for a tangible response from the premiere industry endorsers.

Since 1999 Banton has received five nominations – “Inna Heights,” “Friends For Life” (2004) “Too Bad” (2007) “Rasta Got Soul” (2010) and the winning “Before The Dawn” (2011).

With all the accolades the acclaimed Gargamel has attained from hometown fans he probably feels deserving of another miniature golden gramophone.

But what about “It All Comes Back To Love” from BritJam Priest?

The fusion reggae veteran was nominated in 1994 and 1997. Next year could be his biggest yet.

So if pandemic anxieties are already pressing, be patient, help is coming, on Jan. 31, 2021, this issue will be resolved when CBS-TV announces the winner.

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