It was nine years ago that Florida drug enforcement agents invaded the home of dance hall legend Buju Banton and accused him of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Buju, who offered a very credible case that he was entrapped by a combination of informants and undercover feds and never had any intent to join a drug distribution conspiracy, was sent to prison in 2011 after two contentious trials, the first one being a mistrial.
But now Buju’s prison stay has come to an end, and he’s scheduled to be released on Dec. 8. Of course, the fan anticipation is high, especially since the 45-year-old hasn’t released an album since 2010’s “Before the Dawn.”
But according to UK reggae producer Blacker Dread, Buju will have a new project ready upon his release, since he recorded a full album before he went to prison. It’s also been reported that he’ll be abandoning his hardcore dance hall beginnings and making conscious, roots-styled reggae music going forward.
“It’s a very exciting time,” said Joseph Louis Jr., part of Buju’s management team. “After 9 long years Buju Banton’s redemption is at hand. Buju is looking forward to performing for his fans again and releasing new music. We are currently in negotiation with a number of promoters and sponsors in Jamaica and elsewhere.”
Pat McKay, Sirius XM’s director of programming for reggae, explained why Buju still has a legion of fans who are dying to hear from him and why his music is still important.
“He was always touring, always working. He started that work as a teenager and he worked until he was decades into his career,” said McKay. “In that time he built a world community fan base. They still miss him and they still want to hear from him.”
“His work still has value, it’s still quotable and the aspirations of that work will always ring true,” he added. “He was consistent about what his interests were, about feeling as if he represented the voiceless. He was very, very concerned with those he felt that he spoke for.”