Jamaica Observer:– For the most part, Buju Banton has been silent since his December 7 release from a US prison where he served a 10-year sentence on drug trafficking charges.
In addition to his music, many of those who attended Saturday’s concert wanted to hear what the popular deejay had to say after time off the scene, which he calculated to be eight years, 27 days, 13 hours, 5 minutes and 26 seconds.
During his two-hour-long set, he declared his “no chatting mood”, as it was all about the music — but it was going to be hard keeping that promise.
In-between an avalanche of tracks from his near 30-year-old catalogue, “the Gargamel” fed his audience moments from the decade he was locked away, each time using one if his anthems to expand on what he was saying.
The alleged spat with his son, Markus, which hit social media days before the historic event, got its mention as the deejay recovered from a technical glitch which saw the stage losing sound during his performance of Destiny.
“Dem say mi a coke-head. What are they talking about? he asked before launching into Hills and Valleys.
Buju also responded to the naysayers who questioned whether or not he would have been ring-rusty, and missing the performance chops he was known for.
“Dem a wonder if me still have it… What mi want dem fi know is all when me a sleep mi can deejay,” he told his more than 30,000-strong audience.
Then he changed pace and dropped Too Bad. He reminded the audience of a performance style reminiscent of deejays from the 1980s and ’90s complete with exaggerated dance moves, snippets of songs, and an entertaining interaction and connection with the audience.
Buju Banton apologised to his audience for his absence over the years which he said was due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
“To those who supported me, and even those who didn’t, just know that this heart carries no hate. The full story has never been told…Respect to those who have kept the music alive. Let’s not fight, that is not how you build champions. I say to you bring it on… Bring it on wholesome, “ he shared just before I Want To Be Loved.
He would later introduce one if his many guests.
“I’ve got a lot of friends, and a few real ones and others have revealed themselves. But there is one who, while I was away, sent me a message. She said Remember to pray… Ladies and gentlemen, a mother apart from my mother, Sister Marcia Griffiths.
She then shared the stage and performed the very apt I Want To Be Closer and Stepping Outta Babylon.
The most touching moment was his onstage reconnection with Beres Hammond. Patrons were left teary eyed as they embraced, declaring their mutual respect. They reversed roles like old times on stage, with Buju singing and Hammond doing the deejay’s parts.
When his long-time friend Wayne Wonder took the stage and began singing the deejay’s lyrics in one of their popular collaborations, Buju joked: “My brothers have been performing without me for dat long that even though I’m here, they are singing my lines.”