Buju Banton — The Voice of Rasta Righteousness

It was a perfect Miami night; clear skies, balmy breeze, and a Reggae festival in the park. The 16th Caribbean (formerly Marley) Festival was jammin 'alongside the bay and the downtown park was rammed. Positioned between Capleton and Ky-mani's set, the show-stealing Buju Banton fired up the crowd with a 60 + -minute set that left fans shouting "forward!" If you have not seen Buju before, or if you have not in a while, his presentation and professionalism will have you also clamoring for more. (See Fest review)

I caught up with the 36-year-old Rasta lion following his mind-blowing performance and congratulated him on an outstanding show. "It is my first Bob Marley fest in Miami and I wanted to do something different from the regular," said a smiling Buju, "I wanted to come out of the Dancehall a little bit and do something special." On stage he was dressed in a casual gray with white trim, button-down, pockmarked sweater with slick pants and criss' shoes; his dreadlocks flying and skanking knees lifted right right up to his chin, Buju's flawless performance skillfully segued from Dance hall to Roots to Lovers Rock. Sometimes sounding like his icons Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, there were moments where he sounded (and looked) like Lucky Dube. "I wanted to really and truly show these people that … hey, I am Buju Banton!" When I mentioned that he kept the people everything, he quickly interjected, "I did not show them everything. I wanted to do more … a little Ska, and more that could have been added, but true, my time was short . "

Gearing up for the April 21, 2009, release of Rasta Got Soul , his much-anticipated CD, the Gargamel is looking to "uplift, educate, and stimulate" his fans. Sure to accomplish this, Buju Banton toured Canada for two weeks in May, will be in Europe in June and July, and return in the fall for shows in the USA. The bouncy, upbeat new single, "A Little Bit Sorry" is available now. "It's Ska," Buju describes it, "a reality song that reaches the consciousness and the heart and mind of everyone. And they know … no one is above sorry." Buju's love of Ska music is not something new. You will find Ska tunes on his Inna Heights (1997) and Friends in Life (2003.)

No stranger to controversy, when asked his view of the current slackness debate in Dancehall, Buju responds, "Music controversies? This is not even warranted." Slackness in the music is only a detail in the music. " He quickly adds, "I did not get my popularity with the masses through slackness. I worked hard by making good music. More than merely air-worthy, his 1995 'Til Shiloh and 2003 Friends in Life are both Grammy-nominated Reggae albums. "This too will pass," Buju concludes, "it will have to pass because music is a circle." For the rest of the article, visit www.reggaereport.com

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