Perhaps #FreeBuju, a campaign spanning seven years powered by the people led to the early release of incarcerated Jamaican Reggae/Dancehall Singer Buju Banton. Whatever it was, we have longed for his return. We’ve yearned to be in the presence of a lyrical genius who writes and performs hair and hand-raising music. You see, they don’t make tunes like that anymore, the ones where you can still catch a vibe on the millionth playback. Buju made many, and to this day can fire up a crowd in any Caribbean fete, christening, wedding, dancehall, concert and even funeral! You can guarantee that a Buju track will result in a “Pull up!” from the selector (DJ), and a resounding roar in agreement from the crowd.
The day the Buju Banton – Long Walk to Freedom Tour in Grenada by Sunshine Promotions was announced, it brought me back to 2007 when I visited Grenada for the first time without my parents. Picture this, I was perched on concrete bleachers, in a rural countryside stadium between two Ganja farmers (Rastas smoking marijuana). Everything beyond the stage was pitch black, but the stars shone brightly. That was until Buju sauntered on-stage like a true champion head-to-toe in a white satin suit. Figuratively and literally he was the star of the show, and he did not disappoint on his return this month.
If you came here looking for a critical concert review, you wouldn’t get it, because I was starstruck and transfixed on his every move the moment he skanked on stage. He gave a performance worth every penny put towards the airline tickets of those who flew in. His swag and bold bravado were ever-present in each song, reminding us of his impressive contribution to reggae/dancehall music. Music that not only sounds good to the ears and on the dancefloor but uplifts us as people and enlightens others about our truths and realities.
Patrons in the packed stadium sang along word for word on every song. It reminded me of how meaningful his lyrics are to us. No matter how many years pass, his timeless contributions will always be relevant in our hearts and minds. On that note, I’ll leave you with my favourite Buju lyrics of all time and highlights from the night of his show.