Mi Bwoy ... Buju Bantoan...Stand Strong Mi Youth
Due to the recent uproar about three of our top dancehall voices being censored by gay rights movements after allegedly signing a statement that denounce performing what they refer to as hate songs, Buju Banton’s Gargamel Music sent a letter to One876Entertainment.com to address the image of the artiste that is being portrayed by the gay community.
The release signed by the President of Gargamel Music, Inc. Traci McGregor states:
After hearing about the concerns being voiced by members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender community about international reggae icon Buju Banton, I felt it was important to reach out, as the public portrait that has been painted of Buju as an artist who has espoused violence, hatred and negativity his entire career is one of absolute fraud.
Indeed a young Buju Banton wrote the incendiary anti-gay tune “Boom Bye Bye” back when he was a mere 15 years old. Penned in response to a widely publicized man/boy rape case in Jamaica, it caused a furor in the states when it was re-released four years later in 1992. For the record, he had not performed the song since the early nineties and regularly speaks out against violence - against all people. “I was a child when I wrote those lyrics,” Buju admits. “But let me make it clear that I do not encourage or condone violence towards any human being, and that includes our gay brothers and sisters.” Last year, when Buju once again found himself the target of a new generation of gay activists, he utilized two lines from “Boom Bye Bye” only as a springboard to discuss the enduring persecution he has faced because of the song and to assure his fans just how much he has evolved since. Yet certain factions of the gay community have continued to use it against him in an attempt to discredit him in the media.
Those who have followed Buju Banton’s artistic development and have actually listened to his entire body of work, know of his prodigious growth into one of the world’s most prolific singer/songwriters - one whose consistently positive messages of peace, love and spiritual enlightenment are never lost in the music.
Buju’s 1995 release ’Til Shiloh was nominated for a Grammy award, landed on Spin magazine’s Top 20 Albums of the Year and hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Best Albums of the Decade. His Grammy-nominated project Inna Heights (1997) and also Unchained Spirit (2000) garnered him numerous comparisons to the late great Bob Marley. His 2003 album Friends For Life was also nominated for a Grammy award, as was his most recent project Too Bad (2006).
Buju Banton’s love for humanity is not just demonstrated in words but also in deeds. Twelve years ago he responded to the AIDS crisis in Jamaica by launching Operation Willy, an organization focused on raising monies for HIV positive babies and children who lost their parents to the disease. For the past three years he served as spokesperson for Upliftment Jamaica, a US-based non-profit committed to working with underprivileged youth in Jamaica.
Buju and his Shiloh Band have played all around the world over the past 15 years, and the song has not been a part of his performance. His culturally diverse fan base - which, no doubt includes gay people - spans the Caribbean, North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East. For them, he is not simply an artist; he is a very necessary voice.