UWI: Buju Got Soul(album release)

Friday, April 24, 2009

RECORDING artiste Buju Banton wants everyone, including gays, to listen to his new album, Rasta Got Soul, whilst calling on the public to counter the gay lobby which monitors him throughout the first world. "This record is for everyone," said Banton at his album launch at the University of the West Indies on Wednesday, "the young, the old, the gay, the lesbian, the black, the white."

UWI: ( from left) Cecil Gutzmore, Professor Carolyn Cooper, and Dr Donna Hope Marquis share a moment with Buju Banton (second right) at the launch of Rasta Got Soul at the Undercroft, University of the West Indies, Mona. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby)

Banton later balanced his embrace stating that dancehall artistes need public support against the gay lobby. "It is just a few guys behind a fax machine, but we must come together and write letters because it is more of us than them."Banton, red-flagged by gay groups since his '90s classic Boom Bye Bye, has been financially affected by the lobbyists who try to shut down his concerts and restrict his radio play. The 15-track album has no explicitly antigay title track and speaks of love and unity. But he has another challenge: the absence of a major label which cuts the budget for promotion. Buju Banton, however, told the UWI audience that he doesn't want a major label, and isn't too concerned whether his album hits the charts. "These culture vultures (major reggae record labels) seem to have the thing in a gridlock . but even the local charts I don't believe in them anymore, because some songs that are number one I have never heard them before," he said. "We don't go by the chart anymore. Everyone is able to download and access whatever you want online, and it is impossible for any one entity to control."
Banton who parted ways with Penthouse Records in 2008 after an 18-year partnership, released Rasta Got Soul via his own record label Gargamel Music Inc, via a Tommy Boy distribution deal. It should have been released some three years ago.

It was in 2006 that the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual (GLBT) lobbyists shut down a Banton show in Oakland, USA. The vice-mayor, Nancy Nadel stated that a concert permit was denied because "there are several GLBT venues near this concert venue and we must be sure that no possible fanatic followers might try to harm them". The apparent conflict between reggae-dancehall acts and homosexual communities in the first world has been raging since the early 1990s success of Banton and Shabba Ranks first sparked a reaction from gay activist groups. Since then, several artistes have had overseas dates cancelled as these groups bring pressure to bear on local authorities.

Also, global companies which sponsor music festivals and tours that feature reggae artistes have sought to exclude or at least limit the presence of reggae-dancehall artistes if such artistes have material that may be deemed to incite murder or otherwise be offensive to homosexuals.


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