Reggae Star Buju Banton Released From Prison, Returning to Jamaica After Serving Seven Years for Drug Rap

Steve Nesius/REUTERS

Jamaican reggae legend Buju Banton was released Friday from U.S. federal prison after serving seven years for his involvement in a cocaine trafficking plot, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, is returning to his homeland, making this the “most eagerly awaited arrival in Jamaica since Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie touched down in April 1966,” The Guardian reports. Myrie may be “the most famous Jamaican artist whose name isn’t Marley,” according to the English newspaper. He soared to prominence in the 1990s after securing a reputation as a top dance hall singer. In 1992, he reportedly even beat Marley’s record for No. 1 singles on Jamaican music charts. Myrie’s legacy also came with controversy due to the release of a song that “openly incited the killing of gay people,” spurring venues to cancel 28 of his shows between 2005 and 2011. He disavowed “hatred or violence,” however, in the wake of global condemnation. Myrie’s trial began on Feb. 14, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. federal court, just one day after he landed a Grammy for best reggae album. Prosecutors had alleged that Myrie plotted to buy 11 pounds of coke for $135,000.


SOURCE: The Daily Beast