Toppa Top 15: Edward Seaga Selects 15 Jamaican Music Classics

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12. Buju Banton, “Murderer” (1994)

Buju Banton’s lyrics often dealt with violence, which he explained as reflecting the images that young Jamaicans were presented with by the news media, but the reality of Kingston’s violence was brought home in 1993 by the murders in separate incidents of two of his friends and fellow recording artists, the deejays Pan Head and Dirtsman. His response was the single “Murderer,” which condemned gun violence, going against the flow of the prevailing lyrical content in dancehall. The song inspired several clubs to stop playing songs with excessively violent subject matter. Late in 1994, Buju was also affected by the death of his friend Garnett Silk. Buju’s transformation continued as he embraced the Rastafarian movement and grew his dreadlocks. He joined “conscious” deejay Tony Rebel, Papa San, and General Degree in the Yardcore Collective as his performances and musical releases took on a more spiritual tone. Banton toured Europe and Japan, playing sold out shows, and performed before 20,000 in Trinidad and Tobago.

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