Buju Banton gets 10 years in jail for his role in setting up a cocaine deal in 2009
(Publicity still for Banton’s Unchained Spirit CD)
But ground zero in the war over anti-gay dancehall reggae music is still Jamaica, and nobody personifies this “murder music” more than whom I call the “Unmagnificent Seven” – dancehall superstars Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Vybz Kartel, Elephant Man and – last but not least – Buju Banton.
The international Stop Murder Music campaign (the term was coined by British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in the mid-1990s) accused these artists of promoting violence against LGBT people through the lyrics in their music.
Let me remind you that Buju’s song Boom Bye Bye calls for the gunning down of gay people with Uzi machineguns. When I challenged Banton over these lyrics back in 1996, Buju mockingly replied, “Boom Bye Bye means judgment, do you understand? Nothing don’t change because my feelings about family don’t change. Besides, the song has a good message.”
So I have felt nothing but antipathy for Banton (now 37) ever since. Then, on June 23 this week, Banton was, the BBC reports, “sentenced to 10 years in jail in the US for his role in setting up a cocaine deal in 2009. The singer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was told at Tampa federal court that he must serve five years probation following prison.”
The vicious anti-gay lyrics of reggae’s dancehall dons have made the lives of countless gays and lesbians miserable over the years. So, as far as I’m concerned, Banton – who won his first-ever Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album of 2011 for his 2010 LP Before The Dawn – his going to jail is poetic justice.