Nov 22, 2018, 6:27:42 PM Entertainment

Mark Anthony Myrie aka Buju Banton aka “Gargamel”  is expected to be released from jail in the United States this December. It’s been a long wait for many of us fans the world over, since he started serving time in 2011 for trafficking cocaine. Apart from “Jah Army” where he was featured by the Marley brothers duo of Stephen and Damien,

the video of which it appears he wasn’t able to do before his incarceration, nothing else has been heard from him since. This is unlike the situation in Jamaica, where Vybz Kartelaka “Gaza” have been releasing tracks, doing collabos

and features, right from jail where he’s doing time for a murder charge.

In the early days of the drug trafficking charge against Gargamel, fans across Jamaica and elsewhere around the world, put it to his tribulation from the LGBTQ community, for which some of his tours to some countries were cancelled because of the strong views he held towards gay people, expressed vociferously in “Boom Bye Bye“, of which a contemporary of his, Shabba Ranks paid dearly for supporting his stand on a TV show in the US, with his career. However, disappointment for his fans followed when it came to light, with proof that he indeed had something to do with the white substance. The disappointment stemmed from the fact that it was cocaine, not marijuana that he was accused of trafficking in the United States. Some thought it hypocritical that while he was promoting the trafficking of cannabis in “Driver A

(for which none of his fans in Jamaica and worldwide, would’ve cast aspersions on him, had he been incarcerated for that in the USA), in real life, it was with cocaine that he was dealing. The respect he earned as “Rasta Prophet” of his generation, following his very successful “Til Shiloh”  album has long been whittled if not consigned into oblivion, seeing as he was only short of been considered an outcast in the wake of the huge disappointment that followed his guilty verdict and subsequent conviction.

Upon his release, Buju will not immediately go back into society, rather he’d have to be detained by American immigration agents, till his extradition process to Jamaica is concluded, and may never be allowed into the US because of the gravity of his crime. Though he may not also be bothered about that, neither will his fans, but that surely may affect his earnings considerably, especially in terms of tours should he decide to return to what he’d hitherto excelled in.

Talking about returning to music, this might turn out to be one of the most challenging for Buju after his release. This is because the Jamaican music scene he left behind before his incarceration is different from the one he will be returning to. The fact that he couldn’t, like Gaza keep in touch and impact the music scene while in prison, means he might have to go through the same challenges newbies contend with, though with less steep a cliff, because of the fact that he’d been there, and maintains still some very loyal fans, who remain undeterred despite the bad press his ordeal heralded, unlike the many others who sought solace elsewhere for another voice to lead the Rasta Movement musically.

Interestingly, many have gone on to fill the shoes Buju was forced to abandon in his unintended exile in Babylon, and even appear to have gone several steps further, making me wonder if he’d have the kind of A-Game required to upstage icons like Sizzla, or Capleton,

or the new kids on the block like Chronixx,

without mentioning any of the Marley Brothers, keeping the flames of reggae alive, or the mad vibes of the street that dancehall has become, that a month’s absence from the scene is enough to cause relegation for any artiste so complacent. These, amongst so many others are currently doing so very well, that the pessimist side of me would readily beg Gargamel to let go and watch proceedings from the ringside, however I believe that with the kind of experience he must’ve lived through in prison, with the right management post-release he may still have an ace to turn the tides in his favour, and in the worst case scenario obtain a place in the highly competitive space that’s Jamaica’s reggae, raga, and dancehall atmosphere.

At this point, whether he returns to music or not (which is very, very unlikely), many Buju Banton fans will be content to know that he’s out, and would gladly do the bit they can to aid his rehabilitation, not only back into the society, but also music. There’s no gainsaying the fact that his first show  will be sold out, and the crowd will enjoy whatever he wants to dish out, though the turnout at subsequent shows will be determined by the outcome (positive or negative reviews) of previous ones, his handlers would do well to have him appear on the sidelines of any of the shows headlined by some of today’s major acts in Jamaica in the early days, before eventually putting him out for a gig of his own, hopefully after he might have worked on an album, preferably the likes of which he must’ve compiled while incarcerated, as that will be mostly what the people will want to hear. For now, just like everyone else, I can only countdown to December 8, as I await Buju’s Freedom.




Published by m'khail madukovich

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