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Buju Banton

Ragga DJ, born Mark Myrie 1973, Kingston, Jamaica

He began performing at just 13 years of age with the Rambo Mango and Sweet Love sound systems. Immediately recognising his talent, fellow DJ Clement Irie took him to meet the producer Robert French and Buju?s first single, "The Ruler" was released soon afterwards. By the time he was 15 he had recorded for Bunny Lee, Winston Riley and fellow DJ Red Dragon

In late 1990 Buju was introduced to engineer / producer Dave Kelly who worked for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label and together they made a series of great records that saw Buju hailed as the most exciting newcomer of 1991. Almost immediately they had massive hits such as the controversial ?Love Mi Browning?, where Buju extolled his preference for light-skinned girls (when many Jamaicans understandably took offence Buju shrewdly responded with the placatory ?Love Black Woman?). Other big hits from this time include ?Batty Rider? (which celebrated the current fashion for ultra-short shorts that women were wearing in the dancehalls), ?Bogle? and ?Big It Up?, the debut release on Kelly?s own ?Mad House? label. Buju also had hits for Shocking Vibes, Bobby Digital and Exterminator. In fact 1992 was such a good year he broke Bob Marley's record for the greatest number of number one singles in a year and his gruff, gravelly voice dominated the Jamaican airwaves. Penthouse also released his huge selling debut album, ?Mr Mention?, a term used for someone who is being talked about all the time. This was most certainly true but his notoriety was soon to reach a whole new level

1992 was also the year in which he released the controversial "Boom Bye Bye", an unpleasant advocation for violence against homosexuals. The media in the UK became aware of the record and made in to a huge story and soon people around the world were demanding that Buju apologise. He refused, claiming that his religious beliefs prevented him from accepting homosexuality. Gay Rights groups campaigned against him (he had just signed a major record deal with US label Mercury, which made the story all the more newsworthy) and the situation was further inflamed when fellow DJ Shabba Ranks was asked about the controversy on British show The Word, responding with "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Shabba later apologized but Buju refuses to back down to this day which has ensured he still comes under constant criticism and has caused countless proposed gigs in the UK and elsewhere to be cancelled

Whilst unrepentant on this issue, Buju ironically, then began to display a more conscious, enlightened viewpoint on other topics with songs such as ?How Massa God World A Run?, a stinging critique of the system that keeps Ghetto-dwellers in circumstances from which they are unable to escape. Other big hits at this time included ?Muderer?, an anti-gun song recorded after his DJ friend Pan Head gunned down and ?Operation Willy?, a safe sex message from which all proceeds went to a charity which ran a home for children with AIDS.

In 1993 he released his major label debut for Mercury, ?Voice of Jamaica?, produced by Donovan Germain of Penthouse fame. The following year he launched his own label, CB 321 and in 1995 he released his most influential album to date, ?Till Shiloh? which, unusually for the time used a live studio band and had much more of a traditional Roots feel than anything else released at the time. Buju claimed to have adopted Rastafarianism and that his new album reflected his new beliefs. This attitude did bring about a slight shift in Jamaican music ? whilst dancehall did not move away from slack and violent lyrics altogether the album did pave the way for what many people would say was a greater degree of spirituality within the music.

In 1997 the ?Inna Heights? album (1997) increased Buju?s international audience as he explored his singing ability, recording a number of roots-tinged tracks. He also recorded with older, more established non-dancehall artists such as Beres Hammond and Toots Hibbert from Toots and the Maytals

Since then he has shown no sign of slowing down his phenomenal work-rate and continues to release an astonishing amount of singles and albums including the Grammy nominated ?Too Bad? in 2006

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