Buju Banton was released from CI McRae Federal Prison in Georgia on December 7, a prison officer confirmed to Heavy.com. Banton served seven years of a 10-year sentence on drug charges. Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, 45, was found guilty in February 2011 and sentenced in June of that year for conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. On December 8, Banton is expected to fly home to Kingston, Jamaica, from Miami.
Among those welcoming Banton home will be his father, Benjamin Myrie, who told Loop on December 7, “It’s a joy for me, joyful, to know that the Lord had blessed me that I live to see him come back. I can see his face, talk, eat, drink and move around. He’ll be able to take care of all of his business now.”
Banton is arguably as famous worldwide for his homophobia, epitomized in his 1992 song, “Boom Bye Bye,” in which Banton wrote about murdering gay people. In 2011, Banton signed the Reggae Compassion Act, a government action in Jamaica in which artists promised to not “incite hatred or violence” through songs or statements.
Banton said in a statement to the Guardian that he has new material that is ready to record. The singer said in a statement to the Guardian that his prison stay was “traumatizing not just on myself, but on my family as well as emotionally draining. For me, I drew strength from immersing myself in my situation. Do not live in yesterday but live in today. And education was the only thing that kept me up and alive. I immersed my self in reading so much – theology, philosophy and other subjects.” In the same feature, Jamaica’s minister for culture, Olivia “Babsy” Grange said, “Buju was loved long before he was convicted and he will be loved just the same, even if he comes home in handcuffs.” The article also described Banton’s homecoming as being the most anticipated in Jamaica’s history since Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie visited the country in April 1966.