Buju continues to define the sound
Friday 20th December 2019 | Phil
Having spent a decade away from the music scene, Buju Banton has already reestablished himself as a benchmark artist of the dancehall and roots/reggae genres, while his timeless style and voice remain a fitting symbol of Jamaican sound.
The first, sold out show of his ‘Long Road To Freedom’ Tour at Jamaica’s 35,000 capacity national stadium set him alongside current stars like Stefflon Don and Damian Marley. His well honed, energising and charismatic performance immediately won him praise of the highest order from critics and artists alike.
More known for tracks promoting social consciousness, many of his songs speak out against poverty and violence, like 2000’s ‘Poor Old man’ featuring Stephen Marley and his 1995 smash ‘Murderer’. Earlier in his career, Buju came under heavy international criticism for ‘Boom Bye Bye’, a song he penned at the age of 15 that was condemned for promoting violence against the homosexual community. Later in 2007 he signed the Reggae Compassion Act, agreeing not to create or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any group.
Along with no doubt having a treasure trove of unreleased music including songs made in the early 2000s with UK producer Blacker Dread, Buju has been busy making moves in 2019 to reestablish himself at the top of the food chain. Having dropped several big tracks in the last year, he continues to show his huge versatility as an artist. March saw the arrival of the roots reggae track ‘Country For Sale’, speaking out against the hidden costs of gentrification in Jamaica. November saw him release the anti gun crime reggae song ‘Steppa’ with an accompanying announcement of a new partnership with Jay Z’s Roc Nation, citing the label's focus on independent music and prison reform as main factors in his choice. Since the end of his incarceration, much of Buju's efforts alongside the music have been dedicated to helping to employ and resocialise young offenders.
Buju Banton, real name Mark Antony Myrie, grew up in the poor Jamaican neighbourhood of Salt Lane. He began performing with local Jamaican sound systems at the age of 12, dropping his first record by the age of 13 in 1987. The Ronaldo Nazário de Lima of Jamaican music, Buju is still the only artist to surpass Bob Marley by having more number one records in Jamaica within a calendar year, all by the age of 19. The universally revered dancehall artist continues to be cited by many former and current international artists as one of the most influential dancehall/roots/reggae artists to ever bless the scene, having regularly been nominated for Best Reggae Album and winning a Grammy in 2010 for his album ‘Before The Dawn’.
His latest drop ‘Trust, released early this month, is a full on dancehall heater which is a very clear sign that Gargamel is well and truly back and continuing to define Jamaican sound.
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