Buju Banton’s one-year anniversary timeline
Yesterday, December 7, 2019 marked the one-year anniversary of the release from prison of Grammy-winning reggae artiste, Buju Banton, and what a year it has been. Following his release, Banton, who spent eight years in a US federal prison on drug-related charges, was sent home to Jamaica where he has been busy readjusting to life on the outside. Without much fuss, Banton has used the past 12 months to reinsert himself into the music industry. Not only did he manage to successfully complete his first tour in over a decade, but the artiste has also managed to make a few power moves which include signing a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. In commemoration of the deejay’s first anniversary as a free man, The Sunday Gleaner has put together a timeline of some of the biggest moments in Banton’s life and career post-prison.
December 16: Internationally acclaimed producer DJ Khaled pays Banton a visit
Approximately a week and a half after his return to Jamaica, Banton was visited by DJ Khaled. The noted US producer had not been to Jamaica in 12 years but said he had to show up in person to support a man he dubbed his brother. Khaled’s visit and subsequent photos of the pair in the studio fuelled rumours of a possible collaboration, especially since Khaled’s Father of Asahd album was slated to be released later in the year.
December 29: Buju makes first public appearance
Some three weeks after his release from prison, Banton was spotted mingling with friends at the 46th staging of Stone Love Anniversary event. This was the first time many Jamaicans were seeing the entertainer in the flesh since his release.
January 4: Muted videos of Banton rehearsing surface on social media
Questions about whether or not the freshly freed deejay was ready for the entertainment scene were somewhat put to rest when videos of him seemingly in rehearsals hit social media. There was no audio on the videos but Banton was seen standing in front of a mic seemingly belting. His backup singers were also present in the video.
January 17: Long Walk to Freedom tickets go on sale/website crashes from high demand
Tickets for Banton’s highly anticipated Long Walk to Freedom show at the National Stadium officially went on sale at bujubanton.com. Heavy traffic as a result of the high demand for the tickets caused the website to become inaccessible mere minutes after it went live.
February 28: Tickets for Buju show almost sold-out
A month after tickets went on sale, Banton’s team announced that with the show date fast-approaching, tickets were almost completely sold-out with only Bleachers tickets still available for purchase.
March 14: Infamous altercation between Banton and his son Markus
Forty-eight hours before Banton’s return to the stage, news of an altercation between him and his son Markus lit up social media. Markus, a producer started the social media firestorm with a series of posts blasting his father stating that the entertainer ‘needs to go back to prison’. He also expressed that of Banton’s 17 children, the majority were not happy he was ‘back’. No formal report was filed with the police about the toss-up and the posts made by Markus were later removed.
March 16: The historic Long Walk to Freedom first show at the National Stadium
In what has been described by several international media outlets as his ‘return to glory’, Banton sealed a place in history as one of Jamaica’s greatest musicians with a stellar performance inside the National Stadium. The Gargamel showed no signs of rust as he belted out hit-after-hit, stunning the sold-out crowd with a seamless performance. A little over 95 minutes was all the entertainer needed to completely make up for the eight years lost behind bars. The night belonged to Banton but there were also performances from Romain Virgo, Cocoa Tea, Etana, Agent Sasco and more. Banton also shared the stage with Wayne Wonder, Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths and Gramps Morgan.
March 17: Buju announced as one of the headline acts for Reggae Sumfest
A day after his concert inside the National Stadium, Reggae Sumfest organisers announced that Banton would be performing at the show in July. The news was welcomed by fans around the world who did not get to witness the Gargamel in action on the Long Walk to Freedom stage.
March 20: Buju feeds the homeless in Downtown Kingston
March was a busy month for the entertainer both on and off the stage. Just days after thrilling fans inside the National Stadium, the entertainer was captured on camera handing out meals to homeless persons in Downtown Kingston. The videos gained the entertainer a lot of love from his fans who were happy to see him giving back.
April 27: Buju meets Rihanna
Pictures of the Bajan bombshell and the Gargamel posing backstage emerged. Rihanna was present for Banton’s performance at the Long Walk to Freedom tour show in her home country.
May 16: First official track released
Eager fans were treated to some fresh music from the deejay when he officially released the audio for his song, Country For Sale.
May 22: Banton featured on Khaled’s Father of Asahd album
Speculation that Khaled and Banton were working on new music was confirmed with the release of Khaled’s Father of Asahd compilation. Banton was featured on two tracks, Holy Ground and Holy Mountain.
July 6: Buju makes first Germany appearance in 10 years
Despite protests from gay rights activists, Banton thrills fans at Summerjam in Germany.
July 17: Buju drops second track, Steppa
Perhaps indicating that he’s not only back but here to stay, Banton released his second post-prison track. The song titled Steppa was released on the artiste’s VeVo channel.
July 20: Buju at Reggae Sumfest
In his second performance on home soil in eight years, Banton rocked the Reggae Sumfest stage. As one of the most-anticipated acts for the festival, Banton lived up to expectations, leaving thousands of patrons duly satisfied.
August 31: Banton donates back-to-school supplies
As part of his philanthropic efforts through his foundation, Banton hands over back-to-school supplies to the Mount Olivet Boys Home.
October 8: ‘Til Shiloh album goes Gold
Twenty-four years after its release, Banton’s ‘ Til Shiloh album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. This means the album has sold more than half a million units to date.
November 14: Banton teams up with Dave Kelly for Trust
Banton’s song Trust was officially released on this day. The track, which was produced by internationally acclaimed Dave Kelly, is perhaps the artiste’s biggest release to date. Since its release the track has gained more than 2.7 million views on YouTube.
November 22: Buju signs with Roc Nation
In what could be described as his biggest career move since his release, Banton announced his signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. The partnership has been touted as a deal that will yield good returns for Banton and dancehall music, by extension.