Jamaican dancehall singer Buju Banton, one of the world’s most popular reggae artists, was released from a federal prison Friday, Dec 7, 2018, after serving seven years behind bars. In February 2011, Banton was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute; a Drug Enforcement Administration informant provided evidence of Banton brokering a cocaine deal in Florida.
While in prison, Banton graduated from the University of New York on June 7, 2016, and earned his Masters Degree In Music Business Management. Soon after his release from prison, Banton returned to Jamaica, where a throng of fans greeted him upon his arrival. Though relatively lesser known outside his native country, Banton broke the Bob Marley-held record for most Number One singles in Jamaica. However, Banton was universally condemned for his single “Boom Bye Bye,” a track that endorsed killing gay people, and some believed that his imprisonment was a conspiracy, or payback because of his song.
Learn More: www.caribbeanculturalarts.org
Jamaica’s culture minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange told the Guardian, “There’s no getting over the fact that he was convicted, but Buju was loved long before he was convicted and he will be loved just the same, even if he comes home in handcuffs.”
Celebrities like entertainment mogul Diddy was among the artists that celebrated Banton’s release on social media, “Today is a glorious day. Buju is free. Let’s go! King shit. True greatness.
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BACK TO THE MUSIC BIZ
Buju Banton will perform his first concert following his release from prison on March 16, 2019, at the National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica. Banton and his 10-piece Shiloh Band will perform a 90-minute set at the Long Walk to Freedom concert, presented by Miami-based Best of the Best Productions and Kingston’s Solid Agency. Joseph “Joey Budafuco” Louis of Rockers Island Entertainment, the promoters of Miami’s annual reggae concert extravaganza Best of the Best, and XO Management shared the details exclusively with Billboard in a recent phone conversation from Jamaica.
Musician DJ Khaled is currently in the studio with the reggae singer. Khaled made his first visit to Jamaica in 12 years, arriving in the Caribbean island during the weekend along with son Asahd, to greet his longtime friend, and has since posted pictures of them working in the studio.
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#PART1 it was great to visit my friend SIZZLA , amazing to see all the amazing things he’s doing for his community building museums , schools , studio , for AUGUST TOWN 🙏🏽 Sizzla knows he always has my support and I’m very grateful for his support for me . LUV TO AUGUST TOWN AND JUDGEMENT YARD . 🇯🇲 BLESS UP
Khaled, who used to live in Jamaica and first became friends with the reggae icon in the 1990s during his DJ days, shared several pictures of himself with Buju in the studio, and of himself meeting reggae star Sizzla and Jamaican Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt. The producer is currently working on his new album Father of Asahd, while Buju is gearing up for his comeback Long Walk To Freedom tour, which will begin next March.
Banton’s long list of reggae hits like Til I’m laid to Rest, Wanna be Love, Champion, and Murder, has impacted the music industry throughout the globe. His collaborations with artist such as s Barrington Levy, and Beres Hammond, garnered recognition in the reggae industry, however, his future collaborations with hit makers like Rihanna, Diddy, and DJ Khaled will bring a new audience.
The rumor mill has been turning since the recent song “Phatty” featuring Buju Banton. The song ‘Phatty’ was written by the Bad Gal girl herself, as well as Mark Anthony Myrie A.K.A. reggae artist Buju Banton. Rihanna was also spotted wearing a T-Shirt with Buju Banton image on it paying homage to the reggae singer, back in 2017.
Can Buju Banton be headed to a crossover path to pop, hip-hop, or R&B? His impact has been great thus far, but Banton has proven to be a strong musical force through adversity.
Story Michael Thomas
Sources: Rolling Stone /All-hiphop