Buju Is Coming Home And I Have Missed Him
Buju Banton is about to be free to recreate musical history. Freedom!
When I attended Buju Banton’s final concert before his incarceration , I cried as if he were a close family member. I drove twelve hours in a mini-van to Bayfront Park in Miami, determined to get a final glimpse of my musical hero. Although, I had met him a few times before thanks to my friend Jason Walker, this time just felt different. As I stood in the media pit taking pictures, enjoying the electric energy of the night, he stood over me, locs swinging partially covering his face, sweat beads popping on his forehead giving his characteristic vigorous show and all I could say is ‘Thank You’ for getting me through some of the roughest years of my life.
Anyone who knows my Buju story knows that he was the soundtrack to my difficult transition after leaving Trinidad and Tobago to live in the United States. He was the only Caribbean performer, at the time, who ventured into the uncultured woods of North Carolina concert halls and totally astounded his audience with his lyrical prowess and his larger than life stage presence. If I thought I was a fan before, his performance at Chapel Hill, NC in 2000 raised that fandom up a few notches and it has been growing ever since.
I remember driving two hours to go see him once, only to be disappointed because I saw him moving around back stage in a wheelchair. I thought that broken leg was going to somehow affect his performance . The joke was on me. Buju Banton had one of his stagehands drive him around that stage the entire night as he performed hit after hit and neither he nor his audience missed a beat. One of the many reasons I love his artistry.
Buju Banton could weave words together as very few in his era could. His transition from dancehall to reggae also brought some music with serious thought provoking messages that elevated not only his listeners but also challenged his peers to step it up. That combined with his dynamism on stage that left me drenched in sweat and hoarse from singing along after every stage performance left me enraptured with his artistry. Now, fast-forward 10 years later, he is about to be released from McCrae Correctional facility in Georgia. People claim to be excited but I am not sure they understand what real excitement is until they get a peep inside my head.
As he embarks on this new journey, I cannot help but reflect on what lays ahead of him. He will now carry the unfortunate label
of ‘Deportee’ stamped across his chest like the Scarlet Letter. Yet another legacy from the system that had him behind bars for years. His journey is not faultless, for every victory he had just as much failures but he also has an indomitable spirit that no doubt carried him through the roughest times in jail. Unfortunately, even the toughest soldiers can succumb to the prolonged trauma of being caged. With all the lessons I am sure he now carries with him including his shiny new Masters in Music Business Management, I am sure he will also need time to heal, to spend time with his family and to readjust to life on the outside.
He is about to revolutionize the reggae landscape yet again, with many lessons behind him and a renewed appreciation for freedom. Now he truly understands why the caged bird sings and I hope us, as his fans understand that there is a time and place for everything and give him his time to rediscover his voice.
HERE ARE SOME TOP FIVE ACHIEVEMENTS BUJU BANTON HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE REGGAE MUSIC INDUSTRY.
- His album, Mr Mention(1992) broke Bob Marley’s record Bob Marley’s record for the most No. 1 singles in a single year
- ‘Rasta Got Soul’ (2009) was nominated for a Grammy award
- His album ‘Before the Dawn’ (2010) won a Grammy award in 2011 in the Best Reggae album category
- Between 1986 and 2016, Buju released 10 albums including Stamina Daddy (1992), Mr. Mention (1992), Voice of Jamaica (1993), ’Til Shiloh (1995), Inna Heights (1997), Unchained Spirit (2000), Friends for Life (2003), Too Bad (2006), Rasta Got Soul (2009), and Before the Dawn (2010).
- Buju graduated from the University of New York on June 7, 2016 and earned his Master’s Degree in Music Business Management.
MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.