Buju Banton cocaine video release angers fans
Buju Banton (pictured left) was caught in a undercover video tasting cocaine.
Fans and lawyers of reggae legend Buju Banton have frequently shouted 'entrapment' and 'set up by government informant' to describe the state of affairs that led the reggae star to being incarcerated for almost a decade on cocaine-trafficking charges.
Prosecutors and a US appeals court shot down those allegations with the court often insisting that the Banton "demonstrated familiarity with the drug trade".
Well, the beliefs of ardent fans were challenged over the weekend when a video, obtained by ABC News, showed the artiste, whose real name is Mark Myrie, tasting the illicit drug by taking a lick of a dab of cocaine from his finger, then saying 'I like it'. The undercover video is culled from Banton's last meeting with the informant, and is fewer than 60 seconds long, but will it do damage to the singer's reputation?
No is the answer from Buju Banton's former manager, Donovan Germain.
"People formed their opinion a long time ago, all publicity is good, it all depends on how Buju reacts when he comes out, after all, people tend to forgive and him no kill nobody," Germain told Loop Jamaica reporter Claude Mills.
"There is nothing that one excellent album, another Til Shiloh, cannot fix, it all depends on how he handles the questions when he comes out, if he shows penitence, people will forgive and move on," he reasoned.
Germain believes that the timing of release of the video was calculated to damage the Grammy winning singer's international reputation.
"It doesn't take an Einstein to figure that out. It just shows the power of the gay community for ABC News to go after him like that? He is not a Michael Jackson or a Prince, the system is just being malicious and it shows that there are no second chances, once you are down, they keep you down," Mr. Germain said.
Buju Banton, who has maintained his innocence saying he has been posturing and never intended to follow through with a drug deal, is set to be released in a matter of months.
For years, US officials demanded that the video stay under seal, but ABC News appealed to a federal judge, and the video has now been unsealed. The 44 year-old Banton ended up in a US prison, convicted of two counts for his role in a conspiracy to sell cocaine.
Media consultant and musicologist Ralston Barrett believes that dancehall and reggae artistes are being unfairly targeted by the state and other powerful players.
"Buju Banton paid the price already. Why are they trying to erode the love that the people have for him? Are they hoping that rastafarians and those who take a moral standpoint in our society, see him as a drug dealer? Hasn't Buju Banton suffered enough?" Mr Barrett intoned passionately.
"People in the upper echelons of society have little love for dancehall and reggae artistes; some people seem to hate our stars. Artistes need to be more careful how they conduct themselves and who they associate themselves with...but they are just human. Why continue to vilify and demonise them?" Barrett asked.
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