Buju Banton

One of the most successful reggae acts of all time, Buju Banton is also one of the most controversial, winning Grammy Awards while also causing outrage for his lyrics and winding up in prison. Born Mark Anthony Myrie on July 15, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica, he adopted the surname Banton in tribute to his hero, the DJ Burro Banton ('Buju' was a nickname derived from his chubby physique). He first started performing in outdoor shows and at local dance halls when he was 12, using the stage name Gargamel and copying the toasting DJ techniques popular at the time. This led to recording sessions with producers like Bunny Lee, Winston Riley, and Digital B, and he was 15 when he recorded one of his most infamous songs "Boom Bye Bye" in 1988, written in response to a notorious male rape case in Jamaica and inciting accusations of homophobia that were to pursue him years later. In 1992, he scored even bigger hits with "Bogle," "Love Me Browning," and "Love Black Woman," helping to make him one of the biggest-selling acts in Jamaican recording history, breaking Bob Marley's record for most Jamaican Number 1 hits in a year. However, his gruff voice and edgy lyrics - sometimes about violence in the streets of Kingston, sometimes full of sexual innuendo - didn't make him universally popular. Embracing Rastafarianism, Banton grew dreadlocks and recorded the influential 'Til Shiloh album (1995), shifting away from the old dancehall style to a rootsier sound, while Inna Heights (1997) helped establish him internationally. Accusations of homophobia continued to pursue him, however, with gay rights campaigners in Europe and America attempting to get him banned. More troubles hit him in 2011, however, when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the United States for drug offenses. Just a few days before his sentence was made public, his tenth studio effort Before the Dawn (2010) won Best Reggae Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. He would resume his musical endeavors almost a decade later with Upside Down 2020, released two years after his release from prison in 2018. Featuring cameos from John Legend, Pharrell, Stefflon Don, and Stephen Marley, Upside Down 2020 peaked at Number 2 on the US reggae charts and was followed by Born for Greatness in 2023.

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Stations Featuring Buju Banton

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