Putting 'hung' and 'before the dawn' in the same sentence seems a literal death sentence in the most ignominious of circumstances, with the doomed person not even getting the grace of a final sunrise. However, for reggae superstar Mark 'Buju Banton' Myrie, being tried for cocaine charges in Miami, Florida, was a beautiful combination.
For one, there was a hung jury on September 27, a week after the Banton's trial finally began. Judge Tim Moody declared a mistrial after the 12-member jury failed to return a unanimous verdict on whether Banton was guilty or not guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Then on December 1, his Before the Dawn album was named among the six nominees for the 2011 Best Reggae Album at the Grammy Awards. The others are Gregory Isaacs & King Isaacs, Revelation by Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Made in Jamaica by Bob Sinclair, and Sly and Robbie's, One Pop Reggae and Legacy: An Acoustic Tribute to Peter Tosh by Andrew Tosh, complete the 2011 Best Reggae Album category.
Whether Buju gets the Grammy or not remains to be seen. One school of thought has him as the emotional favourite, based on his extended incarceration after being detained in December 2009. Another - maybe of the same mindset as those who believe that he was set up by the homosexual community in the first place - contends that Boom Bye Bye will always be a millstone around the Gargamel's neck.
Grammy win or not, Buju will have his day of triumph in January even as he looks towards a retrial. Having finally got bail early November 11, (among the conditions are that he must hire a private security detail to guard him so he does not flee, sign an extradition waiver and wear an electronic monitoring device) Buju will perform with his friends at the Bayfront Park, Miami, on Sunday, January 16. Those already confirmed are Stephen Marley, Gramps Morgan, Shaggy, Wayne Wonder, Sly and Robbie and Freddie McGregor.
And Buju was soon back to recording after getting out of jail. On Sunday, November 28, he recorded Things A Come Up on Delly Ranx's Saudi Arabia rhythm at Buju's home studio in Tamarac, Florida. In the song, Buju Banton speaks about politics, the defence forces, the economy and violence in Jamaica, deejaying:
"Stop murder poor people
legal and illegal
It's not a show, who put
Jamaica pon go slow
No money nah run, a just pure
blood a flow
Light bill, water bill and none a
dem caan owe
Labourite, PNP, two a dem a
Ranx said: "Wi jus inna di studio and him jus seh, 'unleash Ranking', and the rest is history."