The world stood still at the weekend with the release of Buju Banton from an American prison after serving seven years on drug charges. The Jamaican dancehall singer was convicted in 2011 of illegal possession of a firearm and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. He was to serve 10 years, effectively curtailing the career of one of reggae’s greatest artiste. He was released on Friday and he headed straight for Jamaica where he got a king’s welcome. He reportedly ended his day in a recording studio where he is no doubt making up for lost time in his music career and is said to be ready to perform as early as next year.
The American Federal Bureau of Prisons has since confirmed Banton’s release from Georgia’s McRae Correctional Facility.
Although condemned the world over for his single “Boom Bye Bye,” a track that endorsed killing gay people, Banton broke the Bob Marley-held record for most Number One singles in Jamaica.
Jamaica’s culture minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange told the Guardian, “There’s no getting over the fact that he was convicted, but Buju was loved long before he was convicted and he will be loved just the same, even if he comes home in handcuffs.”
But it was not only Jamaica that erupted in song and praise for Banton’s release as Diddy joined many other artistes on social media to celebrate his release. “Today is a glorious day. Buju is free. Let’s go! King shit. True greatness,” Diddy tweeted.
It was a heartwarming moment when he reunited with his daughter, Abihail Myrie. Seven years ago, during her father’s sentencing, a US federal court in Tampa heard a heartfelt request for leniency from Abihail, who was then an 11-year-old.
“I can’t imagine a life without my father,” the child reportedly wrote. “I would really appreciate if you would give him a second chance.”
Abihail shared a social media post of their reunion.
“I’ve imagined what this moment would be like, replaying it over and over again in my head but now I can stop imagining because that moment is finally here,” Abihail wrote. “It’s so real and I can’t even find the words to express how I feel. I missed you so much I’m so happy to finally have you here. My heart is so full. How’d you make an exact replica of yourself though?? TWINNING!.”
Photos of the moment show both Buju and his daughter overjoyed as they embrace.
The post has been shared thousands of times on social media as Buju Banton fans celebrate his release from prison.
Born Mark Anthony Myrie in Kingston, Jamaica, Banton is one of the most well-known reggae artistes in Jamaica. In fact, his popularity among reggae fans led to his collaboration with international US artistes such as Busta Rhymes and Fat Joe.
The Jamaican singer, DJ and recording artiste started his career in 1987 and rose to prominence in 1992 when his couple of albums, Stamina Daddy and Mr. Mention became the best-selling albums in Jamaican history. Banton’s work includes dance and pop songs while some of his songs also cover sociopolitical topics. Over the course of his successful career, Banton has worked in reggae, reggae fusion, dancehall, and roots reggae genres with labels such as Gargamel Music, Cannon/Island/PolyGram Records, Mercury/PolyGram Records, and Tommy Boy Entertainment.
He has produced 10 studio albums with the last one being released in 2010.