PHOTO: Jamaica Observer
Anti-gay "murder music" and reggae star Buju Bantion is seen walking to federal court in Tampa, Florida this morning for the start of his federal drug conspiracy trial .... only one day after winning the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. The Jamaica Observer reported that Banton found out he won while sitting in a Tampa hotel room.
A member of Buju Banton's security detail rushed to the embattled Reggae artiste's hotel room yesterday afternoon thinking that something had gone wrong after he heard loud shouts coming from inside. However, the security officer's fears were calmed when he realised that Banton was celebrating news of his Grammy success.
Banton was meeting with his legal team in his hotel room in Tampa when he received news and started celebrating. "I thought that something was wrong when I heard the noise," the security officer told the Observer. "I went to check it out and found out that he won the Grammy."
Today is the beginning of Banton's second federal trial. The first trial ended in September in a hung jury.
The 37-year-old singer, born Mark Myrie, was arrested in December 2009 following a sting operation. The Jamaican national is charged with conspiring to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from undercover federal agents. Despite video and audio surveillance, Banton maintains that he was "set up." The singer faces four drug-trafficking and weapons charges and up to 20 years in prison.
In recent years, gay activists in North America and Europe have called attention to Banton's lyrics and so-called "murder music" which incite violence and call for attacking, torturing and killing gays. Banton's recent North American and European tour dates have met with protests, demonstrations and cancellations. In October 2009, San Francisco-based LGBT activists met with Banton and afterwards the reggae singer's anti-gay rhetoric appeared even more hardened: "This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs, 'There is no end to the war between me and faggot'."
Jamaican news coverage of Buju Banton's arrest has, predictably, attempted to link his legal problems to his anti-gay views.
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