Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Judge Not - Buju Banton Has Message Of Love, Hate

Note from REGGAE.com - we would like your thoughts on this one - who is man to judge? Judgement belongs to the Lord - Jah Rastafari!

November 22, 2005
By KENNETH PARTRIDGE, Special to the Courant

Buju Banton says his music, reggae music, is meant to "eradicate negativity from the minds of the people." He also says it's the "voice of God" and the music of the world - a sound designed to free you from shackles and point you in the direction of hope.

That is, of course, unless you're gay, since Banton, like fellow reggae artist Beanie Man, has recently come under fire for singing songs with violently homophobic lyrics. Banton is facing assault charges in Jamaica after the brutal beating of six gay men, a crime he's pleaded not guilty to.

The contradiction implicit in Banton's so-called positive message was on full display Sunday night at Toad's Place in New Haven, greeting concert-goers before they even stepped foot inside the club. Outside on York Street, protesters held signs and chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho; homophobia's got to go!" as fans lined up to see the show.

The protest was spearheaded by the Queer Political Action Committee of Yale, and organizer Hugh Baran said he hoped to send a clear message to Toad's.

"This is the first stop in our campaign to get Toad's to pledge never to have artists like Buju Banton," Baran said.

Despite the demonstration, Banton drew a strong crowd. For most of his set, he steered clear of controversy, hopping and twitching wildly across the stage while his dreadlocks swung freely and his voice - an earthy rasp that's part dancehall bark, part roots-reggae croon - was used for uniting, not dividing.

On "Not an Easy Road" and "Hills and Valleys," Banton sang for the oppressed, doubling over on certain lyrics as if their weightiness was weakening his knees. The audience joined in on "Untold Stories," which, with its simple guitar accompaniment, sounded like Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."

By the end of the set, though, Banton was ready to speak out. He ditched the tenderness of "Wanna Be Loved" and went into an unapologetic anti-gay tirade, calling those who could not procreate "heathens" and dismissing the idea of same-sex families.

Distressingly, the crowd seemed largely to support these statements, some fans waving Rastafarian flags and cheering loudly as he spoke. He followed his rant with an encore performance of the song "Love Sponge," though by then it was clear there was only one kind of love he was willing to tolerate, let alone soak into his heart.

1 comment:

Sam said...

It is amazing, but in 2009 Toad's in New Haven hosted Buju Banton on September 16th, Beenie Man on November 5th and Capleton on November 12th.

This may not be all the "murder music" performers hosted at Toad's in 2009.

One consolation: As of today 01/09/10, Mark Myrie, aka Buju Banton is being held in Pinellas County jail (Tampa, Florida area) on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine. If convicted he faces up to life in prison.