Buju Banton is the only reggae artiste brave and bold enough to come out and say Bob Marley is not the greatest reggae artiste ever but rather a beneficiary of a great marketing machine. While Banton did not toot his own horn and labeling himself as the best, last night he stepped on the stage for the first time in almost 10 years and proved why he is the greatest reggae artiste of all time.
People came from all over the world to witness the greatest moment in the history of reggae music. They waited a long time for this moment while Buju Banton was serving a 10-year sentence in an American prison on drug related charges.
It was a magical day in Jamaica before the event got started. Not s ingle murder was reported during the day on an island that has become the capital of bloodletting. In fact, of all the countries that are at peace, meaning there is no war on the country’s soil, Jamaica ranks top in death by guns per capita. However, on this day, peace and love was the order of the day. All on people’s mind on this historic day was Buju Banton’s long walk to freedom.
All the hype and anticipation was not in vain when Buju Banton dressed in all white touched the stage in the national stadium right after it was blessed by quite possible another reggae legend in the making, Chronixx.
Like a true return of the prodigal son, Buju entered the stage prayerfully singing “have mercy on me” and as he got into his performance it was evident to the millions watching from the venue and on social media, it was evident that there has been none like this man before him and reggae fans will have to wait and see if there is none after.
From his opening to “not an easy road” onwards, he did not miss a beat. It was Buju in his element, from his familiar mannerisms to his stage presence, it was as if the years of him being away simply disappeared. His fans can rest assured; the reggae artiste is truly back, and in full form.
With his locks hanging free, and a glimmer in his eyes, the Gargamel delivered an almost two-hour set, hopping across the stage with youthful agility.
Classics such as Hills and Valleys and Destiny, were impeccably delivered backed by his Til Shiloh bandmates.
Not forgetting his dancehall roots, Buju let go some waist-moving hits like Champion and Too Bad.
But he didn’t do it all alone. He was joined for a moment by Stefflondon; Marcia Griffits, whom he said was like a mother to him; his longtime collaboration partner Beres Hammond – the two were as in sync as always; and his pal Wayne Wonder. He ended the show in the same vein in which it started, collaborating with Gramps Morgan for Psalm 23.
“We love you!” were his finals words as his two-hour long performance came to an end and fireworks lit up the night sky over Kingston’s National Stadium.