Article and cover photo by Sista Irie, Austin, Texas
“In light of the adversity I have encountered, I feel the need to stress that my only desire going forward is peace and love. I only want to be associated with my craft. Having survived, I want to share the good news and strength of my music which I have devoted my life to. I look forward to the opportunity to say a personal thanks to my fans and everyone who supported me,”
Love, Buju Banton (Instagram)
The coming release and return of Buju Banton to his homeland of Jamaica is one of the most highly anticipated moments on the island since the visit of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie in 1966. Buju made history in his early recording career as a teenager in the late 1980’s. His quick rise to stardom catapulted a fast moving skillset that began in hip hop and dancehall that evolved into a spiritual shift of musical consciousness. The test of time has shown Buju’s deep rooted legacy has only grown along with his stated desire to carve a productive life fueled by talent and wisdom.
One must think beyond the surface and view the potential of a true artist who has experienced some of life’s most challenging obstacles. The concept that ‘who feels it, knows it’ is especially poignant in music. It is important to understand the intensity of influence music has on society especially when it represents the reality of life crisis. “Music has statistically shown to connect deeply with adolescents and to influence identity development more than any other entertainment medium.” (Under the Influence of Music, NY Times 2008). The best teachings come from those who have lived through horrific experiences and heal through their artistic skills. This can be especially effective when the fame of the artist has a direct connection to the youth and society they come from.
Buju was raised in a ghetto portion of Kingston, Jamaica, known as Salt Lane. His mother was a street vendor and his father, a laborer. He was one of 15 children and given the nickname Buju, another word known for breadfruit by his mother. Few of us can imagine the hardships faced when growing up in such a dire environment. Buju’s early works were in close alignment to the music of the day which included hip hop and hardcore dancehall. It was Buju’s outstanding talent that led him to work and be influenced by socially conscious singers like Garnet Silk, Tony Rebel, Beres Hammond, Morgan Heritage and more. His life measured in time led to a spiritual and musical maturity that has yet to be fully manifested.
Donovan Germain, owner of Penthouse Records and one of Jamaica’s most successful music producers was Buju’s first manager and producer. He has remained a life time friend, musical mentor and confident throughout his career. Donovan is currently updating Buju’s studio and work environment for his return.
The excitement of Buju’s homecoming is captured in the title of his upcoming tour “The Long Walk to Freedom” scheduled to begin in 2019. The people of Jamaica and the Reggae massive worldwide are holding their breath and growing excitement in anticipation of a new era of music by this highly talented artist, who at only 45 years old, will break through a new and promising sound barrier. It is only through Buju’s new found freedom that he will once again be able to rule his destiny.
“My destiny is homeward bound,
Though forces try to hold me down.
Breaking chains has become the norm.
I know I must get through no matter wha gwaan.”
Destiny by Buju Banton, 1997 Inna Heights
Buju’s new website @ BujuBanton.com