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.”