Get out of Jail Free: Cocoa Tea, Anthony B record defence of Buju
Krista Henry and Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writers
Cocoa Tea and Anthony B
Performances are good for a night, but going on record is another thing entirely. Two performers, Cocoa Tea (who remade his Eighteen and Over with Buju Banton in the mid-1990s and on whose 'Original Dancehall Jam Jam' Banton has performed) and Anthony B have recorded songs calling for his release. Cocoa Tea has released Buju, using the melody and music of The Heptones' Country Boy, while Anthony B has done Free Up The General for Truckback Records.
Cocoa Tea alludes to Buju Banton's hit and album title Destiny when he sings "this couldn't be your destiny". He also pledges his loyalty ("no matter what they say/you're still my friend anyway") and goes as far as to say "for me you're still innocent/all when them find you guilty".
The usual suspects get mentioned with "them likkle fish deh a fry/cause dem a some Satan spy", which Cocoa Tea sings at three points in Buju. On the final occasion, he adds "set up trap an' tell lie/an come come lock up the I/But Rasta know dem ago die".
And Cocoa Tea rests the case with a higher power, singing "you must get justice/if not from man then Jah".
Deejay Anthony B said he's "hoping and praying" for the release of his brother Buju Banton. When The Sunday Gleaner spoke to the deejay recently, he was quick to make it clear that Banton was his icon and someone he looked up to, who has not only contributed to his career but to that of younger artistes today.
Even with the insinuating circumstances surrounding Banton's case, Anthony B still has hope that Banton will come out the victor. He said: "I am not my brother's keeper but you're innocent until proven guilty. There is still no conviction, just an allegation." The deejay said he has a strong belief in 'justice' and that justice will prevail at the end of the day. Even if Banton is found guilty, he will continue to stand by his brother Buju Banton.
"Yeah, is my brother. I will stand by him. If he's found guilty, all you can do is say, 'Jah Jah know, you made a mistake but we're here for you'. We're all human and we all strive for perfection, so we can't judge and condemn," he said.
It was reported in The Gleaner that Buju Banton's defence will rely on entrapment as its defence in making a case for him to be freed.
Interestingly, in the early 1990s, Buju Banton recorded a song about an overseas brush with the law. In Vigilante he sings:
"I buss a 45 not an AK
Them have the shells inna the
courthouse pon display.
The judge say sentence him now
Don't you wait another day
Have me life an' all me movements
under heavy survey
Throughout the court session
haffi watch whe me say
Yes, Your Honour, no Your
Honour have a good day.
Them never hol' me inna foreign
Them never hol' Buju fi no
Guy dis the programme an' the
Banton disagree wid him
Is the mercy of the Almighty save
He is one of many Jamaican performers to have put courtroom experiences into song. There is one particularly wry observation, though. In the 1980s, Junior Reid noted the connection between himself and the judge in Conviction or Fine: "The judge was my namesake/but deep in his heart he didn't decide to give I a break/all he had on his mind was to give I a conviction or a fine".