He may not be able to travel or even sell out an arena at home in Jamaica right now, but for what it’s worth, reggae icon, Mark Myrie, the artiste known world over as Buju Banton, is having a favourable year.
The artist’s Upside Down 2020 album, released on June 26th, debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts. Its songs have penetrated the souls of fans worldwide already – hit singles like, ‘Buried Alive’ and ‘Helping Hand’ emphasising the need for positive, sound musical lyrics, in a world that presently seems to be drowning in negativity.
In a recent interview on New York radio station, Power105.1FM, with hosts of the Breakfast Club, Buju noted that music had over time, lost its potency. “My thing is, as a young man coming up, our music, somehow through the passage and pages of time, lost that potency to illicit certain emotions in people- not violent, but certainly that spiritual essence that we all have inside of us. I’ve been laid dormant and they’re doing everything in their power to kill it,” he said, adding, “we are the most spiritual people that walk on the face of the earth. I’m not taking anything from nobody, but Africa is where God loves to be and when we emerge with our music, we don’t always emerge to put our hands in people’s pocket. We emerge with our music to also touch the minds, the hearts – to illicit that little pearl inside of us that everyone is trying to destroy with hate, malice, contempt, greed, jealousy and all the negative energies you can ascribe to the devil,” said the entertainer.
Myrie, calmly continued to educate the hosts saying that when he first entered the music scene in the United States, he immediately realised that that country was no longer welcoming to people being uplifted. He said there was a gangster culture being perpetrated and he knew then, that the end result would be “to send all these young men to prison.”
Deeply engaged by his words, the three Breakfast Club hosts, Chalamagne, Angela Yee and Dj Envy quietly paid attention. “We watched our brothers rap, and people danced their way right into a prison cell,” Buju continued. He said it was noticed that the positivity was deliberately being kept out of the music, even though there were artistes who were trying their hardest to project positive energy through music, but were often relegated. He pointed out US rapper, Nas. “They tried to make it seem like he is a relic of the past. No, he is not,” said Buju of the well known lyricist. “He’s seeing things and saying things that he wants you to wake up and realise, but you are so caught up on the treadmill- the cyclical brain wash has taken so much great root in the minds of our people, that when an album like ‘Til Shiloh’ came about, it was to remind you of the genesis of who we are, as a people and despite all that is going on, that feeling that you feel inside of you, it is very real,” he said.
In the hour long interview, Buju waded into spirituality and dropped some of the most profound and positive teachings that have been shared by any artist in recent time. “We come full circle now to an album like ‘Upside Down’ where the message continues. And if you look at that time, till this time, it’s 25 years and what has Buju Banton been doing? Have I ever wavered from the message? Have I ever wavered from trying to uplift the consciousness of our people… to let them know that instead of spending $1000 on one pair of shoes, owned by somebody who doesn’t look like me, why not buy couple pairs of shoes and still look fly and classy, yet save a certain amount so you can be assured of your sustenance?” he said.
Buju noted that expressions like these are unpopular. “These thoughts are given out by few, yet the majority is being led in a direction where someone will have to pay,” said the artist.
For the first time, Buju broke his silence on the matter of his incarceration experience. “I found myself mentoring a lot of people, giving a lot of people strength, hope. You find that in those places- those places are designed, not only to break the human spirit but also to destroy the very fabric of the human mind. A weak mind cannot emerge strong from those places,” said Myrie.
He said if a person is not mentally strong going in, prison would only make that person weaker. He pointed out the reality behind bars, noting that there is so much illicit items for sale that one would wonder if they are really incarcerated. “The challenge is if you’re not a man who has a foundation in spirituality, you’re like a ship left to the wind. If you have even an iota of spirituality, it would be ok, because then, you’re in a place where you can cultivate your growth,” he explained. Buju said that is what he did. He cultivated his growth while incarcerated in the United States. He said he was there physically but certainly not mentally, highlighting that a book called, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E Frankl, helped him during that period.
On Sunday, in Jamaica, Buju won $3 million for the Sunbeam Children’s Home in St Catherine. He did so when he entered the 2020 Jamaica Festival Song Competition with a song aptly entitled, “I Am Jamaican.” His contribution in this way, reminds the world of his humility as an artist. During the Breakfast Club interview, Buju remarked, “I never lived my life predicated on being the king of the dancehall or the king of reggae music or an icon or superstar. All these monikers, I see these titles as things they use to fool my people because when you strip the title away and you look at the character of the person that you attach these things to, you want to run far away. I’m just a man with my music. Me wah be ah servant to the people- to serve de people dem and serve de music, yuh know wah mean? If 10 people understand the message, I am a happy man.”
CHECK OUT THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE:
Tarrus Riley Turns The Heat Up A Notch, Releases “Like That.”
Known for his evolutionary sound, Tarrus Riley is set to kick off the summer with his new single “ Like That”, produced by DJ Frass Records. The single, which was released April 2nd, garnered solid streaming numbers via Apple music and on Apple US itunes charts, has been receiving airplay on various mainstream stations in the US and UK.
Riley, known for his impressive catalogue of hits which includes, “Good Girl Gone Bad’, “Lion Paw”, “Memory”, a soca track done with Soca music maven, Machel Montano and the unforgettable, “She’s Royal”, is no stranger to creating hits, nor is he far removed from innovation. According to a media release issued by Destine Media, “Like That’, ifuses dancehall and R&B flavours and delivers a groove geared at getting women around the world, dancing and feeling perfect within themselves.
The media release highlights that over the past few years, reggae and dancehall music have been scrutinised for its evolution of, but Tarrus believes this evolution should be enjoyed and embraced, rather than negatively labeled.
In an interview with Pat Meschino for Daily Beast, Riley said “don’t watch the tempo because I like doing new things. People are concerned with names, labels, trap, rap, hip-hop, dancehall, I can’t bother with dem things. I have always been doing different kinds of sounds and I will continue. Music is going through a change right now, people are blending and fusing, everybody wants to call it a name, but I just call it good music.”
“Like That” is another song that highlights the Jamaican artist’s ability to blend sounds while maintaining his authenticity and entertaining his fan base. Currently set to headline Best of the Best Miami Music Fest 2021, Tarrus plans on releasing a few more sings this year.
St. Vincent’s Skinny Fabulous Says, “We Will Get Through This,” as La Soufrière Volcano Threatens Disaster.
The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been placed on disaster alert by the island’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves as the La Soufrière volcano exhibited a change in eruptive activity. The island is now on red alert which means an eruption is imminent, according to the country’s National Emergency Management Organization.
Soca artist and song writer, Skinny Fabulous, in a social media post on Thursday night said, “Prayers be with us. Our volcano has gone into an elevated state of activities that suggest that an explosive eruption is imminent or at least highly probable. I trust that persons while being urgent, wont panic. Easier said than done I know but let’s all act in accordance with all the guidelines and protocols and do so safely. We have been planning for this for weeks. We will get through this.” Beneath his sentiments on Instagram, fellow Caribbean entertainers posted emotional expressions of hope for safety.
Evacuation orders are in place in about a dozen districts of St. Vincent, affecting roughly 6,000 to 7,000 people, a spokesperson for the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, or UWI-SRC, told CNN.
The volcano has had five explosive eruptions — in 1718, 1812, 1814, 1902/03 and 1979 — according to the seismic research center.
Help on the way.
On Twitter, NEMO officials said cruise ships were heading to the islands to assist with evacuations. CNN reported that Carnival Cruise Lines is sending two ships — the Carnival Paradise and the Carnival Legend — to evacuate residents. The report stated that each ship will accommodate up to 1,500 residents who will be transported to neighboring islands, which have agreed to offer refuge out of harm’s way.
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