But people like Brian Winfield, managing director for Equality Florida, contend that "Boom Bye Bye" couldn't be a clearer incitement of violence against gay people. "The lyrics talk about shooting gay people, they call on listeners to shoot gay people in the head and burn gay people with acid and fire," he says. "[Buju] has been profiting off the song for 20 years."

Buju apologized for how the song was interpreted and the angst it stirred but never really wavered in his opposition toward homosexuality. He did, however, tone down the rhetoric.

In 1995, his career jumped to the next level with the release of 'Til Shiloh, a deeply spiritual album that analyzes global inequity and the legacy of colonialism and contains a few dancehall classics for safe measure. Buju had started growing out his dreadlocks and embracing Rastafarianism.

Around this time, he met Father Abba Tekle Mariam, a priest from the Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Church in London. Buju invited the older man to come teach for a day at his Gargamel Studio. They strolled around, and Mariam remembers seeing dozens of people waiting outside, some looking for help, some just looking to catch a glimpse of the "Voice of Jamaica," as Buju had become known. The priest says Buju had become a one-man social service.

"A lady, her son was just murdered, came asking for money to do the funeral service. And he called some of the people that worked at his studio and had them give her money to cover the expense. Then there was a lady with her baby who couldn't eat, and he just gave her dollars," Mariam says, rattling off several other examples. "I asked him how he became the social service, how he would manage. And he just said God gives to him so he should give to the people."

Buju started leveraging his fame to improve his homeland. He helped fund a hospice in Jamaica for HIV-positive children — which had to be done covertly given the stigma of the disease in Jamaica — and when Puma approached him to be a brand ambassador for the Summer Olympics, he made the sportswear company hook up the local kids with new soccer gear and a field.

In spite of his generosity, it's hard to estimate how much wealth Buju accumulated. Like many reggae artists, he traveled frequently between Jamaica and South Florida. Here, he lived in a simple condo that was appraised at just $100,450 this year. Presumably, he had plenty of expenses for the 13 children he fathered over the course of his career.

Between 1997 and 2009, Buju put out six full-length albums and made dozens of appearances on various mixes. In 2009, he released Rasta Got Soul and started touring to promote the album.

Roy "Gramps" Morgan opened for Buju on the seven-week U.S. tour, which snaked from Philadelphia to L.A. to Florida. He remembers long drives in between shows chatting about girls and politics, laughing till their faces hurt. Buju is a machine on the road; his energy is second to no one, Morgan says. He describes Buju's schedule on the tour thusly: wake, pray, work out, eat porridge prepared by his chef, travel, perform, and repeat. Many mornings, Buju would be bounding to Morgan's bus and banging on the door before anyone else was awake.

Buju, Morgan says, never drinks on tour. One glass of wine and he's gone.


On July 26, 2009, Buju boarded a first-class flight from Madrid to Miami. He had just finished the eight-and-a-half-week European leg of the Rasta Got Soul tour and decided to celebrate by watching Ben-Hur and kicking back with a mimosa. The man seated next to him told Buju to try red wine because "that's a man's drink." The two hit it off. They drank for eight and a half hours, going from wine to scotch to beer. They got so drunk and loud that the flight attendant told them to settle down. When a tipsy Buju was stopped coming back into first class from coach, the stranger vouched he was indeed supposed to be there, a gesture that made a lasting impression.

The guy — his name, he said, was Junior — told Buju he ran a successful fishing business. He also had a passing knowledge of the reggae industry — he name-dropped Lloyd Evans, a manager whom Buju had looked up to as a young man — and said that he had powerful friends in the recording industry out in Los Angeles, a detail that enticed Buju. These were the first of many drunken lies Alex Johnson would tell.

As the plane neared the American coast, Johnson pulled out a wad of cash and gestured to Buju that he was bringing money in from other, illicit ventures. This piqued the musician's curiosity. A boozed-up Buju, not wanting to be outdone by a fisherman, bragged that he too had his hand in something on the side — a drug ring that moved kilos from Venezue­la through St. Martin to Europe. At the end of the flight, they exchanged numbers and went their respective ways.

The next morning, Buju's phone rang.

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23 comments
juanitajefferson31
juanitajefferson31

I hope you get out soon to come rock concert in new orleans i love you buju im supporting you.

pheelingphine
pheelingphine

And what most of you don't understand,is that Buju is from a completely different culture then in the US,also in the Rastafarian Religion Homosexuality is the worst thing.When he wrote "Boom Boom" he was like 17 and there had been a horrific crime committed against a child,he was brutally raped and murdered by a man,and Buju was angry over that specific case when he wrote that song,and has paid dearly for it in the entertainment industry.  

Duncan 23
Duncan 23

It seems obvious to me that the government or an official in it really wanted Buju Arrested. There methods seem vindictive. It reminds me of Hoover actively seeking to find dirt on Malcom Z and Martin Luther King in attempt to nullify their influence and standing in the communities that they served.

God's Gay-lesbian Children
God's Gay-lesbian Children

This article is shameful.It's clear that the writer is a huge fan of Buju's and has a man-crush on him.  Whatever.

Buju never apologized for calling for the death, torture and mutilation of god's gay-lesbian children.  His management claims he did, because they know how shameful what he did was.  But he has not, which is why there is no link, no video, no audio of the apology. 

Nor has he apologized for the way that his song has become a global symbol of hatred and violence against innocent gay people.  If Buju were a man, he would own up to what he did, and actually apologize.

Buju is in jail because of karma--he is making amends for the hurt and pain his music has sowed, including for the song that defines his legacy, Boom ByeBye.  I believe in redemption, but he played the song as recently as 2006, so he has to repent before he can be redeemed.

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

He did clear up any misconceptions about the song and stated that it should not be taken literally. The problem here is that the groups opposing Buju wanted him to put up money and go against his beliefs. How is donating money to your cause going to help people change their beliefs on the issue? It seemed greedy and baseless to me, but I digress.

You are not a supporter of Buju, but there are many people who love and respect Buju because he's a legend and 'Boom Bye Bye' is only a brief snapshot in the career of this man. He has made countless songs uplifting the poor and ghetto people, but foreigners only want to focus on the negative and that's sad.

Chris_SLOB_BOY
Chris_SLOB_BOY

Of course it's entrapment ! Dude's never smoked a single joint in his life, probably doesn't even know what drugs are.

Mark A. Kam Holford
Mark A. Kam Holford

Idiot should have accepted the two year deal that he was offered as a plea bargain.

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

He either was innocent or really felt as though he could win (which is what almost happened in the first trial). In retrospect that would have been better for him, but everyone knows that the system throws plea bargaining at innocent people and offenders as a means of getting out of doing their job.

Mark A. Kam Holford
Mark A. Kam Holford

You can bet this was not the first cocaine deal that BB was involved in. 

Alan
Alan

Buju Banton is a murderous homophobe. I hope he rots in prison.

Magickstikk7
Magickstikk7

u must be a homo, how you hope someone rote in hell when they were not convicted yet. I think your GAY

sprecks
sprecks

So because he don't like people like you who mix their dick with shit, he should be in prison? Since when does a persons dislikes equate to a crime worthy of imprisonment? You are an idiot.

Mark A. Kam Holford
Mark A. Kam Holford

He isn't in jail for incitement to murder. He is in jail because he was heavily involved in drugs trafficking.

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

There is no concrete evidence that he was 'heavily involved' in drug trafficking. The issue here is that his so-called betheren said whatever to get a lesser sentence and the government sent their paid informant to make sure Buju got locked up for drugs any way possible.

Patricestewart35
Patricestewart35

God is just. Buju Banton will be free

Guest
Guest like.author.displayName 1 Like

 Well, yeah, God is just, which is why she has put buju behind bars.

FQS9000
FQS9000

A classic case of too many Feds with too much money desperately seeking an easy conviction to justify their fat paychecks.

The root cause here is too many taxes and too many bureaucrats.   

oOBlackHandOo
oOBlackHandOo

I don't know if he was and I don't care.... I can't wait to read the headline where he is dead.

A_lewis2904
A_lewis2904

For the Gay ones that oppose Buju.....don't hate.  He has done you no wrong.  He is a man just as any of us and he was wronged by the Government that we follow.  Judge a man from his first breath, to his last.  One song doesn't make him an evil person.  Just to clear the air, i'm not a homophobic person.  It's your choice.  Just treat the situation like you would if he was a friend or family member.

oOBlackHandOo
oOBlackHandOo like.author.displayName 1 Like

 I got some bad news for you, sunshine... Hair lip hell and half of Georgia, there aint' a chance of that ghetto trash being in my family or friend...

1_Lovely_1
1_Lovely_1

Be careful what you wish for others b/c it will most likely happen to you first and it will be ten times worse.

 
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