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:
Grenada Shines! Soca Shines Too as Mr. Killa Gets a Space on Mainstream TV!
Grenada for the win! One of the island’s most notable artistes, Mr. Killa has brought the energy of Soca to the big screen, internationally.
The ’Rolly Polly’ singer broadened his market reach earlier this month after his voice was used by the executive producer for the Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, Glenda Cox. Ebuzztt understands that the production team reached out to Mr. Killa, citing his unique sound and versatility. The artist who co-owns a company called, Rebel1 Entertainment, essentially went on to create the show’s theme song, ”Housewives in the Island Babay.”
The opportunity is a significant one for Caribbean culture as Mr. Killa, who’s real name is Hollice Mapp, along with his team, have stepped into a space that hasn’t been easy to gain footing in, by most Caribbean music genres, especially Soca.
Here’s a look at the Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip!
New Soca Parang Speaks Love, But Artist Questions Present State of T&T with Covid Cases Rising.
Three days after Trinidad and Tobago’s government suspended the State of Emergency that had been imposed on citizens, restricting movement between 10pm and 5am, entertainer, Adrian Hackshaw, who’s best known as Bass, says, ”it seems like we’re back to square one.”
A new Soca parang track released for the Christmas season, the well known radio personality and artist said he had hoped that the lifting of the SOE would see a return to small scale events and some sort of active nightlight with the use of government’s mandated ’safe zones’ – spaces where only the vaccinated would be allowed access. Today however he is unsure, and laments the present predicament the country finds itself in, with an increased number of people being hospitalized for Covid-19.
On November 18th, seventeen COVID-19 related deaths were reported in Trinidad and Tobago by the Ministry of Health, taking the total death toll thus far to 1,908. There were 537 new Covid-19 cases accounted for by health officials on Thursday and 480 persons hospitalized. The country’s government last week said they would not be going back on efforts to move forward and urged persons to take advantage of readily available vaccines.
“With these increased cases it feels like we’re back to square one even though the rest of the world seems to be moving forward,” said Bass. He pointed to the lyrics of his new Soca Parang release, “Christmas Is Love,” saying, ”I pray and continue to hope for the best. I pray that we all do what’s best for each other and I urge everyone to share love with each other this Christmas and beyond.”
Bass has always been an avid contributor to both the carnival and Christmas landscape in Trinidad and Tobago. He is just one of many artistes who remain hopeful that some semblance of normalcy will return to T&T so that their livelihoods can be returned along with it.
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