February 28, 2011 | 9:00am
In these tough times, Banton's history as a homophobe
and all other controversy ought to be overlooked. Instead, County Grind wants to encourage Banton to look on the bright side:
- His formal rival, Junior Reid, suggests that Buju Banton's imprisonment is unfortunate for all reggae music and that his arrest is a conspiracy against reggae artists. This could prompt some kind of revolution.
- Winning a Grammy for an album with a coincidentally uplifting title is the best way to go down swinging.
- A post-Grammy stint in prison could now put him on the same wavelength as the late, great reggae superstar-slash-convict, Ranking Dread. Where Banton conspired to tread, Ranking Dread dominated: a connection to about 30 murders was just part of his list of offenses. He was the head of a Hackney-based drug-dealing and armed robbery gang, which sent him on the run from the police for years and prompted him to illegally escape to Canada with a fake passport - then get busted for it after slashing his girlfriend's face. (Suddenly a conspiracy to sell some coke isn't looking so bad.)
Another thing the two masters of their craft have in common: moments of genuinely sweet soul. Here are both of them at their most skilled, getting introspective, loving and - even in Banton's case - optimistic: