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Buju Banton

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Buju Banton

Real Name: Mark Anthony Myrie
Born: July 15th 1973
Place of Birth: Kingston, Jamaica

Banton was raised in Denham Town and began to learn the craft of the DJ at the age of 13 with the Rambo Mango and Sweet Love sound systems. The name Buju, meaning breadfruit, was given to him by his mother when he was a baby because of his chubbiness. DJ Clement Irie introduced him to Robert Ffrench, who produced his 1986 debut single "The Ruler". In 1987, he worked with Red Dragon, Bunny Lee and Winston Riley, the latter successfully remixing several of his tracks. As his voice matured its rich growl was likened to Shabba Ranks. Several hits that established Banton as the most exciting newcomer in 1991 were written with Dave "Rude Boy" Kelly, resident engineer at Donovan Germain's Penthouse Studio. Some of their lyrics drew controversy, such as "Love Mi Browning", which describes Banton's fondness for light-skinned girls. "Women Nuh Fret", "Batty Rider", "Bogle Dance" and "Big It Up" (the first release on Kelly's Mad House label) set dancehall fashions. Several hits on Penthouse, Soljie, Shocking Vibes, Bobby Digital and Exterminator confirmed Banton's prominence and coincided with the release of Mr. Mention on Penthouse. "Boom Bye Bye" for Shang was certainly the most infamous of these singles because of its aggressive homophobia.

National television exposure in the UK caused a wave of media hostility and criticism. Nevertheless, the reggae charts were dominated by Banton's hits, often in combination with other Penthouse artists, including Wayne Wonder, Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths and Carol Gonzales. Later in 1991, Banton signed a major contract with Mercury Records. By 1993, his lyrics had more frequently begun to address cultural issues. "Tribal War" (featuring star guest performers) was a reaction to Jamaica's political conflicts, "Operation Ardent" took exception to Kingston's curfew laws, and "Murderer" dealt with the shooting of his friend and fellow DJ, Pan Head. This element of harsh reality in juxtaposition with Banton's crude lyrical seduction of women has helped confirm his world-class status. In 1996, Til Shiloh (meaning "forever") was ranked in Spin magazine's Top 20 albums of the year. The album, featuring a full studio band, was instrumental in moving dancehall away from synthesized music. The subsequent Inna Heights and Unchained Spirit received equal praise, helping establish Banton as one of the leading reggae artists of his era.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2005
Source - BBC Music Profiles

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