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Buju Banton Biography

Home > Music > B > Banton, Buju > Biography

Birth Name: Mark Anthony Myrie
Birth Place: Kingston, Jamaica
Genres: Reggae, Dancehall, Reggae Fusion, Roots Reggae

Buju Banton (born Mark Anthony Myrie July 15, 1973) is a Jamaican dancehall, ragga, and reggae musician. He has also recorded Pop and Dance songs, as well as songs dealing with political topics. Banton is politically outspoken and influenced by Marcus Garvey and the Rastafari movement.

He has released 9 studio albums and hundreds of compilations and singles. In 1986, he was introduced to producer Robert Ffrench by fellow deejay Clement Irie, and his first single, "The Ruler" was released not long afterwards in 1987. This led to recording sessions with producers such as Patrick Roberts, Bunny Lee, Winston Riley, and Digital B, and in 1988, aged 15, he first recorded the controversial song, "Boom Bye Bye, "which contained homophobic lyrics.

In 1991, Buju joined Donovan Germain's Penthouse Records label and began a fruitful partnership with producer Dave Kelly who later launched his own Madhouse Records label. Buju is one of the most popular musicians in Jamaican history, having major chart success in 1992, with "Bogle" and "Love me Browning," both massive hits in Jamaica.

1992 was an explosive year for Buju as he broke Bob Marley's record for the most #1 singles in a year. Beginning with "Woman fi Sex," Buju's gruff voice dominated the Jamaican airwaves for the duration of the year. Banton's debut album, “Mr. Mention,” includes his greatest hits from that year.

Now on the major Mercury label, Banton released the hard-hitting “Voice of Jamaica” in 1993. The album included a number of conscious tracks, including "Deportees," a remix of Little Roy's "Tribal War" and "Willy, Don't Be Silly" which promoted safe sex and the use of contraceptives, particularly the condom, profits from which were donated to a charity supporting children with AIDS.

1995’s “'Til Shiloh” was an influential album, using a studio band instead of synthesized music, and marking a slight shift away from dancehall towards roots reggae for Banton. “'Til Shiloh” successfully blended conscious lyrics with a hard-hitting dancehall vibe. The album included earlier singles such as "Murderer" and "Untold Stories."

“Inna Heights,” released in 1997, substantially increased Banton's international audience as Buju explored his singing ability and recorded a number of roots-tinged tracks, including the hugely popular "Destiny" and "Hills and Valleys."

In 1998, Buju met the punk band Rancid and recorded three tracks with them: "Misty Days", "Hooligans" and "Life Won't Wait." The latter became the title track of Rancid's 1998 album, “Life Won't Wait.”

Subsequently, Buju signed with Anti- Records, and released “Unchained Spirit” in 2000. Several singles followed in the start of the new decade, mostly without the trademark spitfire delivery typical of dancehall, but displaying Banton's talent for a mellower more introspective approach. In March 2003 he released “Friends for Life,” which featured more sharply political songs, including "Mr. Nine," an anti-gun song. "Paid Not Played" is included and shows his gradual return to the themes more popular in dancehall. The album also featured some hip hop influence with the inclusion of Fat Joe.

2006 saw the release of the critically acclaimed "Too Bad," his first dancehall orientated album in over a decade.

He received a Grammy nomination in the Best Reggae Album category, for his critically acclaimed roots reggae opus, “Rasta Got Soul.” The album was produced by Banton, with contributions from longtime collaborators Donovan Germain, Stephen Marsden and Wyclef Jean. “Rasta Got Soul” was recorded over a seven year period and finally released in April 2009. Album highlights include "Magic City," "I Rise," "A Little Bit Of Sorry," "Rastafari," "Sense Of Purpose" featuring Bunny Rugs of Third World and "Bedtime Story" featuring Wyclef Jean.

In 2010 he released the album “Before the Dawn” which went on to win the Best Reggae Album category at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards

After a trial involving drug conspiracy and firearms charges in Tampa, Florida, Buju was found guilty on February 22, 2011 on three of the four charges and awaits sentencing.