“Buju” Banton aka “Gargamel” ( born Mark Anthony Myrie July 15 1973) is one of Reggae Musics most acclaimed artists coming out of Kingston Jamaica. “Buju” meaning breadfruit which is often a name used for chubby children was his childhood nickname given to him by his mother, and later “Gargamel” referring to the character in the cartoon “The Smurfs” . Buju took interest in music at 13 years old, writing his own songs and performing with local sound systems. His first single “The Ruler” was recorded in 1986. As a teenager, his love for dancehall often got him in trouble with his father; who often locked him out the house for coming home at indecent hours. He continued to record through 1987, but took some time off for his voice to mature. Considered a controversial artist; much of his music speaks lyrics of love, romance, politics, Rastafarianism, religion, sexuality and culture. “Boom Bye Bye “ probably his most talked about controversial piece; was actually written when he was 15 years old, and later recorded in 1988. It was inspired by a man boy rape that affected the community. This song caused an international uproar that almost cost him his career.
In 1992 Banton broke Bob Marley’s record for most No 1 singles in a single year with his debut album “Mr. Mention”. Yet with the increasing violence in Jamaica that was also taking place at that time, Banton became inspired to embrace Rastafari teachings in his music and reach out to the youth. His song “Murderer” was written due to the brutal murder of his friend “Panhead” sharing the personal toll that violence had taken on him. Through music he speaks truth “real life” and intends to stay consistent with the message.
Some of Buju’s best work to date has been with that of “Penthouse Records” founded by “Donovan Germaine” known to be one of the most successful Reggae producers of the digital era. Germain made his entry into the music industry via his record shop owned in New York City back in the 1970’s. “Penthouse” named for being at the top floor of the building it once resided opened in 1987 A robust catalogue of music has come out the studio. Roots Reggae, Lovers Rock, and Dancehall.
Buju has taken home two Grammy’s for Best Reggae Album in both 2009 and 2011. The same year Buju was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking.
His last performance concert (Before The Dawn) was held in January of that same year at Bayfront Park in Miami Florida after being incarcerated for 11 months. He was granted the opportunity to perform for one night in order to help fund his legal defense. With an expected release date in December 2018 his fans await him with open arms and much excitement for his upcoming tour.
Buju had a true belief that there were many forces intending to destroy his career based on what he stands for but his lyrics “ Hold a firm meditation.” “One day things must get better.” ring true; and there is no doubt he will rise again.