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Lyrics from a 17-year-old song are costing Buju Banton gigs. The Jamaican dancehall singer had some of the dates on his 2006 U.S. tour canceled because his 1992 song “Boom Bye Bye” urges listeners to shoot gay people in the head and douse them with acid.

Last week major promoters AEG Live and Live Nation canceled all upcoming Banton shows (L.A., San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Houston, Dallas). Neither promoter was involved with Banton’s Belly Up show scheduled for October 17.

Belly Up talent buyer Eric Milhouse pointed out that Banton appeared at the Belly Up in 2006 when other dates were canceled. “I wasn’t here then, but I heard there were no problems.” He says Banton appeared at the Sports Arena in February as part of the Tribute to Reggae Legends festival and that there were no protests or incidents. “He played last month at Madison Square Garden, and there was not a single issue. A week later he had a guest appearance with John Legend, and the New York Post said [Banton’s set] was the highlight of the night.”

At press time, the Belly Up date and 29 other stops on the current tour had not been canceled.

“But we have heard from concerned folks,” says Milhouse. “I’m trying to get a statement from Buju. We want to do the right thing.”

“Buju doesn’t sing any of those lyrics anymore,” says longtime reggae impresario Makeda Dread. She says she’s planning to interview Banton and a member of the L.A. Gay Center at the same time on her weekly Reggae Makossa radio show. (This show would have aired on Tuesday, September 8, on FM 102.5.) Dread co-promoted the Reggae Legends Festival.

Jamaican native Ras Charles owns and operates Yard Sounds Records in Oceanside and hosts the weekly Yard Sounds radio show on KKSM/Palomar College. “He doesn’t sing those songs anymore, but those songs still get played and that’s why people still associate him with that.”

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shumprston Sept. 11, 2009 @ 12:51 p.m.

That was then? What? Great another straight guy, telling gays not to worry about calls for them to get murdered.

How hypocritical for buju's publicist to say that he has spent 17 years making amends. Let's see: -He performed this song as recently as 2006 -He continues to make fat bucks from royalties and downloads of this song -He continues to stand by the lyrics of this song....he did denounce violence against gay people once, when signing the reggae compassion act, but then denounced the letter saying his 'european' promoters forced him to do it -He has become THE international symbol of violence against gay people, which has been a significant boost to his career -He and this song are famous around the world, and frequently replayed, and every time that happens gay people are subject to calls for genocide. Might be funny if so many gay people aren't the actual victims of genocide. -He was videotaped recently stating, "the war between faggots and me will never end."

that statement is the most hypocritical, disingenous and desperate attempt at spin i've ever seen. my friends and family are safer cuz buju has been kept out of california.

Look Ken Leighton, whoever you are, there are very very few gay people who would say, "wow what a talent that buju is if you just overlook those calls to murder gay people."

and neither should you. if buju wants to move on, he should stop making money off anti-gay violence, and act like a man and denounce it.

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Josh Board Sept. 12, 2009 @ 11:25 a.m.

The funniest thing is...if buju heard lyrics that told people to shoot members of his race, he'd probably be up in arms over it.

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staright_guy Sept. 13, 2009 @ 8:24 p.m.

shumprston and josh give it a rest!

so many more hip hop artists are guilty of this and they get a pass. im not trying to snitch on them.

but why buju. it been years and years. he has not sang that song in a long time. the video from 2006 is not buju singin that song that song is called maasa world run. the crowd sang the song on the same instrumental and then that rythym instrumental was only on for 25 seconds. check your video. your being disingenius tryning to say he does this 1992 song in its entirelty as part of his show. not!

the song was taken off itunes and the like.

so your saying its not ok to write a song about how one would feel about a boy being raped by a man. thats wrong. i doubt either of you would hold your silence. unless you think thats ok.

here is the offical statement.

Open Letter From Tracii McGregor, President - Gargamel Music

THE VOICE OF JAMAICA WILL NOT BE SILENCED - Four-Time Grammy Nominated Reggae Star Buju Banton's US Tour Is On -

(New York, NY - 3, September 2009) Gargamel Music is pleased to confirm that four-time Grammy nominated Reggae artist and icon, Buju Banton will kick off his hotly anticipated Rasta Got Soul US Tour on September 12th in Philadelphia. We are disappointed by the hasty cancellation of a few shows by Live Nation/House of Blues and Goldenvoice/AEG, but fans will be happy to know we have over 30 confirmed shows that are definitely playing and we are working to replace the canceled dates. Now our team is primarily concerned with setting the record straight on the grossly inaccurate portrait of Buju being painted by certain organizations and systematically relayed to the masses and the media.

Buju Banton was all of 15-years-old when he wrote "Boom Bye Bye" in response to a widely publicized man/boy rape case in Jamaica. It was not a call to violence. The song was re-released on a popular dancehall rhythm in 1992 and caused a huge uproar after receiving commercial radio play in the States. Following much public debate back then, prominent gay rights leaders - and Buju decidedly moved on. For the record, it is the only song he ever made on the subject - and he does not perform it today.

Those who have followed Buju Banton's musical journey and have actually listened to his extensive catalog, know of his development into a world-class singer, songwriter and performer who can quietly sell out such prestigious venues as the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York and Brixton Academy in London. He does not advocate violence. There has never been a shred of violence at any of his live shows. In fact, he commonly preaches against violence - against all people.

part1

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staright_guy Sept. 13, 2009 @ 8:26 p.m.

part 2

Buju's consistently positive messages of peace, love and enlightenment have never been lost in the music. His 1995 Grammy-nominated album 'Til Shiloh marked a spiritual and musical transformation that yielded the classic narratives "Untold Stories," "Wanna Be Loved" and "Murderer," which personified the horrific increase in gun crimes in Kingston's inner city. His Grammy-nominated Inna Heights (1997) garnered him numerous comparisons to the late, great Bob Marley.

Long before Hollywood raised its collective consciousness about Darfur, there was Buju Banton wailing about the genocide happening in "Sudan" on 1999's Unchained Spirit. His Friends For Life (2003) and Too Bad (2006) projects were both acknowledged with Grammy nods for Best Reggae Album. Buju's latest Roots Reggae opus, Rasta Got Soul (2009), has already been welcomed with critical acclaim in the US, Europe and Japan.

The artist's love for humanity is not just demonstrated in words but also in deeds. Twelve years ago he responded to the AIDS crisis in Jamaica by launching Operation Willy, an organization focused on raising monies for HIV positive babies and children who lost their parents to the disease. For three years he served as a celebrity spokesperson for Upliftment Jamaica, a US-based non-profit committed to working with underprivileged youth back home.

Yet none of these personal and professional accomplishments matter much to a gay lobby hell bent on destroying the livelihood of a man who has spent an entire career making amends -- his way. Sadly, their 17 year fixation on waging war against one artist has prevented them from turning this initiative into a larger, more fruitful discussion that could perhaps effect real change.

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Josh Board Sept. 14, 2009 @ 10:53 a.m.

Those are good points. I didn't realize that song was written about that incident. I just read the lyrics online, and it doesn't seem like that song advocates violence against gays.

I just hope this artist realizes that...JUST because he was raped by a man, doesn't mean that man was gay. Homosexual men like other men. They don't like 15-year-old boys. That would be pedophiles.

And, they don't rape other men. They date men that are interested in a mutual relationship.

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shumprston Sept. 15, 2009 @ 11:39 a.m.

Straight guy....give it a rest?

When buju stops making money by selling his song fantasizing about gays...well then, I'll give it a rest.

And please note that my comments above your post were written in response to Tracci McGregor's hypocritical spin. You don't make amends for something by continuing to sing it, continuing to sell it, standing by the lyrics, and saying "the war between me and faggots will never end."

Also, you know what bothers me about straight guys using sexual abuse as a reason to attack gay guys? About 95% of the victims of sexual abuse are girls, and the testosterone-poisoned among us are all too happy to ignore that tragedy so they can get their licks in against gay people.

No gay person in the world would buy the argument, "ooh buju's such a nice guy except for his "murder gays" obsesssion"

belly-up is making money from homophobia. Will they book the nazi punk band Skrewdriver next?

There's a reason gays have never felt comfortable in that club.

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Josh Board Sept. 16, 2009 @ 4:21 p.m.

That makes absolutely no sense. UNLESS that specific band was playing at that specific club, no gay person would have to fear (and I doubt they do) being in any club, just because at one time or another, they booked someone that had questionable lyrics. That's the type of logic people use to try to get boycotts going, which is such BS.

If this rapper had numerous songs about killing gays, I think there would be a valid point. But I read his lyrics, and they didn't even seem to make a lot of sense (I was reminded of people censoring The Kingsmans "Louie Louie" even though listening to that, nobody could understand the words. They just ASSumed they were naughty).

As a heterosexual, I don't feel uncomfortable, the times I've gone into gay clubs with female friends or for a party. Not sure why it would be any different the other way around.

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SamK Oct. 6, 2009 @ 2:51 a.m.

Buju's staff at Gargamel Music, Buju Banton founder and CEO, claim that "Boom Bye Bye" has never been part of his live performances. I do believe that he performed it live as recently as 2004. He has performed parts of that since then, in 2006, in Miami, and in 2007, in Guyana.

Buju Banton has never really distanced himself from the hateful calls for "killing gays" and shooting gays in the head, shooting gays with an Uzi, throwing acid in gay's faces and burning gays like an old tire that are in "Boom Bye Bye."

Buju Banton, did once make an apology, but he soon retracted the apology. Just as he signed and then denied that he signed the Reggae Compassionate Act. You can see his signed RCA form online.

"Boom Bye Bye" can be downloaded from Amazon. It is also on YouTube with more than 1,559,000 views.

For videos that show Buju Banton reiterating the anti gay statements in "Boom Bye Bye," see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46PASiOjdP4 "BUJU BANTON FIRE BURN BATTY" and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ8Z0b... "Elephant Man Buju Banton Shabba Ranks" In the latter video he refers to the churches and asks "What have I done wrong when I say that homosexuality is wrong?"

During some of Buju Banton's concerts he makes anti gay remarks throughout the performance: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/letters/09/24/inconsistent-decisions-in-the-case-of-mavado/ This is a letter to the editor to a Guyana newspaper, Stabroek News, and the remark about Banton's anti gay comments is in reference to the 2007 concert in Guyana.

Buju Banton is not alone among dancehall artistes in his "kill LGBT people" statements. http://www.petertatchell.net/popmusic/Dancehall-Dossier-FINAL.pdf

In Jamaica, there is tremendous violence and hatred directed at LGBT people. Buju Banton and some of his dancehall artiste friends must bear some responsibility for this. There are online reports by groups like Amnesty International and many other reports of this extreme violence in Jamaica. One very good account is in this Time Magazine article: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1182991,00.html "The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?" Britain has given asylum to a number of Jamaican gay men because of the extreme homophobia and violence in Jamaica.

If this performance at Belly Up happens, we need to have LGBT people at the performance or other friendly people who will get a set list to share with the communities. And also so we have a record of what happens at the concert.

I think it is appropriate for LBGT people to do an informational protest at the concert and it is appropriate for people concerned about the basic human rights of LGBT people anywere, including in Jamaica to join the informational protest or picket.

There is more information at http://cancelbujubanton.wetpaint.com/

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emilhouse Oct. 22, 2009 @ 11:21 a.m.

Part 1:

A Report from the Belly Up Regarding the Buju Banton Show on Saturday, October 17 2009:

The Belly Up show with Buju Banton on Saturday was a hate-free concert that concluded with an historic meeting between Buju and a small group of LGBT leaders after the performance. The Belly Up applauds the efforts of the three LGBT community leaders that trusted our intentions and made the effort to bear witness to the concert that evening. Their courage to stand with us in the club, and not just protest and leave as many others did, is the only reason this meeting with Buju was able to take place.

These LGBT leaders will have their own view of what happened over the course of this amazing day, but the meeting was a very frank-but-civil exchange and we at the Belly Up learned several important things. First and foremost, we heard with our own ears Buju unequivocally denounce violence and hatred towards gays and lesbians. Secondly, that night we heard a concert that was entirely free of hate and that specifically did not contain the song Boom Bye Bye. (He also said to us directly and explicitly that the song was written in as a naïve teenager in the Kingston ghetto, but does not reflect his view today). Thirdly, we learned that Buju feels misunderstood and misjudged by the LGBT community and is very angry about the campaign against him (justified or not). During our conversation he acknowledged that he has also made hurtful comments, and even expressed regret for his choice of words during last week’s radio interview, but he specifically pointed out that his anger is directed at the leaders of the movement against him and not at anyone based on their sexual orientation. He also affirmed that the following statement, attributed to him by his record label in a recent press release, does in fact accurately reflect his personal view:

"Throughout my travels as an artist, I have witnessed first hand the senseless atrocities being suffered by innocent people around the world and my heart goes out to them. I do not condone violence against anyone, including gays, and I have spent my career rallying against violence and injustice through music. At this point, I can only hope that my body of work speaks for itself and that anyone still offended by the lyrics of my youth will take the time to explore my catalog or come to one of my shows before reducing my character and entire musical repertoire to a single song." -- Buju Banton

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emilhouse Oct. 22, 2009 @ 11:22 a.m.

Part 2: Further, Buju said that he wants to end the “war” between him and the LGBT community and felt -- despite the pepper spray incident at his show in San Francisco -- that his meeting in SF with LGBT leaders, as well as the meeting after the show at the Belly Up, were a good start to that process. During our first meeting with him on the afternoon of the show, we explained that his hurtful statements, no matter whether it is his intention or not, are harmful to the entire LGBT community and need to stop if there is to be true reconciliation. At the end of the meeting we all agreed that posting further positive statements from Buju, on his website and elsewhere, would be a good next step and he promised to do so in the coming days.

Based on all that we heard and saw, we feel that there is good reason to remain engaged in dialogue with Buju Banton and to continuing working towards an eventual resolution to this issue. It was very difficult for the club to get this dialogue started, and in the process we endured a lot hateful comments and accusations about our character, but at the end of the day we have seen that many things said about Buju are simply not true today. We feel strongly that if both sides are willing to renounce their harsh comments towards each other that this whole matter can be resolved in a positive way. It is our hope that from this point forward Buju will consistently abide by his professed values, just as we hope that the LGBT will publicly support this process as long as progress is being made.

Finally, we are also hopeful that even those who judged The Belly Up harshly will now see that we have been of pure intention from the start, and will find it appropriate to call off the boycott of our venue....and will do so as loudly as they called for it originally. Based on what happened over the weekend, there is no doubt in our minds that canceling this show would have been far worse than staying with it. We are proud that we stayed with what we thought was right, even at great financial and personal cost, and we are encouraged that there is now a real opportunity to bring Buju into the community of hate-free artists. We know we still have work to do, and that success is not guaranteed, but as long as long as Buju continues to make these kind of positive statements we will continue our efforts to heal this rift, without apology, and hope that others will join us in our pursuit of a creating a more hate-free world through music.

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SamK Jan. 4, 2010 @ 1:38 a.m.

I know that Buju Banton is being held in Miami on federal conspiracy to distribute drug charges, so it may be some time before he tours again.

Buju Banton is in a difficult spot. His Jamaican fans expect him to follow the Rastafarian religious line and their literal belief in the Old Testament and particularly Leviticus 20:13. "Boom Bye Bye" is basically a statement of Leviticus 20:13. If Buju backs off from this belief or if he apologizes, his Jamaican fans will think that he has sold out to "Babylon."

On the other hand, the mean-spirited, intense and virulent homophobia that Buju Banton has projected during his more than 20 year crusade against gay people does not go over well in the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe.

Buju has done more than just write one "kill gays" song and then sing that song from 1992 until at least 2004. He makes homophobic comments from the stage. He has a new anti gay routine that he performs. He continues to make money and/or promote his own image via the sale and downloading of the song from the internet and on CDs.

Buju is known to perform very differently when he is performing in the U.S. as opposed to Jamaica or other parts of the Caribbean.

Buju has said: "I do not condone violence." The important thing is: Does he agree with Leviticus 20:13 that gays should literally be executed?

Homosexuality acts between consenting adult males are illegal in Jamaica. 96% of Jamaicans believe that such acts should be illegal. In the U.S. the figure is 35% (John Derbyshire).

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