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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Getting to the Bottom of Banton

Posted by on September 27 at 12:32 PM

There might have been a time when Buju Banton attempted to outwardly reform his violent attitudes toward homosexuals, but that attempt, which was back then at best weak, is now as dead as dust. In 2000, Nate Lippens, who is gay and was once a frequent Stranger contributor, penned, as far we know, the only positive review of Buju Banton. But he did so with an understanding of Banton’s reputation:

BUJU BANTON (Bohemian Backstage) It’s always fun to see how reformed bad-boy performers will handle or skirt their older, less-enlightened material live. This show should provide just such an opportunity. Buju Banton started out as a dance hall toaster with all the usual macho bragging about guns, girls, and even one infamous boast about gay-bashing. Now he’s changed his tune with songs about spirituality and ending violence. His new album, Unchained Spirit, mixes reggae, ska, and gospel harmony with his love of Jah. NATE LIPPENS
We don’t know what Lippens discovered at the show (if Banton’s reformation was for real or not), but now that Banton has made his position very clear (homosexuals must be put to death), there is no reason for us, at the Stranger, to be ambiguous (Banton must be shutdown).

The larger problem, however, remains this: Why is the black community silent on this issue? Just last week, a black DJ, DV-one, was brutalized by white police officers and the black community (and the hiphop community) rightly expressed anger and called for action. But when it comes to a man who openly sets the movement of human rights backwards—not a peep, not a word. If human rights as a project is to be something more than personal, more than one group of people, more than one moment in time, then it must be understood, and championed (to reappropriate an expression popularized in the dance hall world by Banton), as a universal project. It should not be just gays who denounce Banton’s promotion of gay-bashing, in the same way it should not be just blacks who denounce police brutality.

Lastly, and frankly, only backward people are still homophobic, still plough the earthy idea that somehow “the parts don’t fit.” But, really, this has gone on for way too long, and it’s now time for them, the backward people, to stop, grow up intellectually, and move to the city of concrete ideas. Enough of this country nonsense, these muddy country attitudes, these rural idiocies. As LKJ once toasted: “This is the age of reality/the age of science and technology.”

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Charles, if you had only made this your very first post instead.. Just sayin'.

The SLOG has now given this guy more press than anyone deserves. Please stop. Now. For the love of god. NO ONE CARES!!!!

Day Three...

Our NAACP is a small, all-volunteer organization with hardly any resources. I'm surprised if they even knew about the show. How much crossover is there in the gay community and black community? Looks like there needs to be some coalition-building there.

Well, there should be more crossover between the black community and the black community first. (No typos there.)

Asking seriously, how many black people in Seattle know or care who Banton is? What about America in general? My observations are not totally accurate by any means, but Jamaican-based music seems to be mostly enjoyed by white people in America, ironically, given how integral this music was to creating large and influential African American musical movements since the late 70s.

Hey Niggah Schola,

About three months ago I was trying to get you worked up about all the homophobia and Hip Hop, Rap music and other black music. You were not interested.

Now you've seen the light. Welcome!

If it takes someone like Buju to finally get you to take a stand on the rampant homophobia in rap, hip hop, and reggae then so be it.

It's just funny that The Stranger is about ten years behind on this issue. All you have to do is google "Homophobic Hip Hop" and you'll discover people were holding University conferences about the issue while The Stranger was promoting Buju concerts.

So Nigga Schola please take some time to get up to speed on this issue. You guys really dropped the ball on the Buju thing. Maybe you can rebound with a "Nigga Schola takes on homophobia in black music" column.

Of course I'm just an ignorant white faggot so what do I know?

P.S. You might want to start here in researching homophobia in Hip Hop

Charles, all due respect friend, but get real, there is a huge difference between a singer from another country writing a song about killing gay boys while not doing so, and the actual institutionalized racism that results in many very real police beatdowns and killings of young people of color in our own city. Sure, if Buju fans beatdown homosexuals as a result of Buju's songs in Seattle, we should all be concerned. But they don't, just as fans of Guns and Roses aren't beating up immigrants and homosexuals, etc, etc. People of color in Seattle have real concerns, and boycotting some small touring artist from Jamaica whose stupid homophobic songs leads to no actions nor influences anyone is not one of them. Fighting institutionalized racism and police violence aimed at their own community that must deal with daily is. And as it should be. It is somewhat insulting to DV for you to compare the importance of the two.

What the Stranger and the gay community should be doing is fighting the actual institutions in our own city that propegate and promote homophobia like Mars Hill Church and the Paradox - their missionary tool used to suck your readers into their cult which you support with both editorial and ad space.

I'm a big fan of yours Charles, but this Banton issue seems like grandstanding, and it has accomplished nothing but to bring financial harm to some good people who own Neumo's. And it appears to be a tad hypocritical seeing The Stranger's support of the Buju show in the form of your accepting ad dollars and The Stranger's support from both editorial and in ad revenue of other homophoic artists. Hypocritical, inneffective grandstanding. Not a good look for the Slog. I bet you got soome increased traffic here though, so if that is the goal, nice work. Too bad some of the best people in the music community had to suffer for that.

You people are so stupid. There are tons of Black performers who write songs about "killing the faggot". That's not the point. The Stranger can promote, make money off of, and praise any homophobic black perform they want to.

The issue here was Buju shouldn't perform at Nemos. If homophobic black performers sing their songs in other Seattle neighborhoods that's different.

this is for idiots who think my position on homosexuality and the black community was born today:

Charles you are so brave to call for a boycott of Buju at Nemos. Thank you.

Lots of Hip Hop and Rap perfomers are raging homophobes. Who cares if The Stranger gives their shows great reviews?

What matters is controlling who performs at Nemos. Those Nemos guys need to understand that Capitol Hill is gay and The Stranger is going to make sure that only musicians that are gay friendly enough are going to be allowed to perform at Nemos. Capice?

Ah! Charles, I like how you held the race card until the end of the hand this time. Well played!

For Sarah Mirk:

With regard to this quote of Mr. Mudede's:

"there is no reason for us, at the Stranger, to be ambiguous: Banton must be shutdown."

It certainly looks as though Charles is attempting to speak for the paper there, don't you think? Can you perhaps begin to understand now why people are assuming that the opinions Charles Mudede publishes on SLOG are those of The Stranger at large?

If the position he has posted here is not that of paper, then given the way it is phrased, don't you think some repudiation is in order?

But I thought we all agreed that it's OK to go hear Buju as long as the concert is not on Capitol Hill?

There was no problem when Buju performed in Ballard.

I just want to know if The Stranger thinks it's fashionable to go see Buju or not? Can't the writers at The Stranger have a meeting and decide their position on Buju?

The easiest thing is to promote Buju as long as he's at Studio 7. That way The Stranger can still make money advertising Buju, but Charles can call for a Buju boycott at Nemos.

What if The Stranger offers to refund everyone's Buju tickets at The Stranger office. That'd be cool too. I like to see The Stranger's office.

anne, don't think i don't know who you are. i'm watching you very closely.

Charles I'm flattered. I didn't think you knew I was alive. I'm a great fan of yours. You're so much more educated and intelligent than the rest of us, I'm suprised you even care what I think.

If you want to go out for Cosmopolitans at The Bus Stop sometime just say the word!

The Stranger exists only to make money. So what if they call for a boycott of Buju and then turn around and make money advertising Buju's performance? Sounds like smart business to me. Commercial media isn't pure or innocent. The Capitalist Market will sort all this out.

My guess is both Buju and The Stranger will make tons of money off this controversy. The chumps at Nemos who cancelled the show look sorta weak to me, they were too afraid to stand up to The Stranger I guess.

In the marketplace only the strongest survive. If Nemos had any balls they'd stood out the controversy and had a packed Buju concert.

Now The Stranger gets to make money off Buju and look good calling for a boycott. That's real business smarts. The Stranger won this battle. So what cry me a river!

wow, way to throw another gasoline-soaked log into the fire Charles. You seem to have a way of doing that a lot lately.

Very well put Meinert, although I disagree about The Paradox. They do lots of great shows at that venue that have nothing to do with the church and that are all-ages. i think that is a good thing, just my opinion.

I would really like to make the point again that Seattlites are very lucky to have so many venues to see live music. Shutting down concerts because of lyrics is a slippery step down a fucked-up road no matter how despicable the lyrics...if you really feel a song is an important enough of a reason to protest and take action to shut a concert down, then go ahead, but please try to understand the implications of taking that action. Also, please take into account that there are many positive things people can do to combat bigotry and find productive alternatives to violence. I second Charles's call that it is time to get passed homophobia and bigotry, i disagree on the method in this case.

thats all, maybe i'll see yall at Neumos tonight

I love you Kwab (I hope no Buju fans poors acid on me for saying that), but don't be fooled by the Paradox. It is an effective youth outreach program for Mars Hill. There are many bands that have quit playing their because "it got wierd", as in, religion was pushed on them. Many kids who have attended shows there have become church members. Great shows for sure, but the far right members of the church who preach sexism and homophobia aren't dumping tons of money into the Paradox because they care about the secular all ages rock community. Just saying.

Anyhow, Charles, I hope you respond to the rest of my post.

PS - the title of this slog post is humorous and it's nice to see there is still some humor here, too bad it costs our friends so much for us to laugh

Meinert Says:

"Many kids who have attended shows there have become church members."

Care to share your source for that information, Dave?

So can we go to the Buju concert at Studio 7 or not? I mean at least it's not on Capitol Hill.

If The Stranger wants to boycott all Buju concerts will The Stranger offer us refunds for our tickets for doing the right thing?

Interesting to see Charles quote Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ). I may be wrong but, coming from the same anti-gay culture that produced Buju, I would think LKJ would hold the same/similar values.

Homophobia like Buju's is a cultural thing in the Caribean, not a sign of bigotted ignorance as it is here.

is that why its a "paradox" cause its pretending to be something its not?...i dont know, im not a Christian, maybe i havent been to enough shows or something.

i was gonna make a joke about it not being a good idea to drop acid at the Buju show, but that would probably be innapropriate

ok i will really shut up now

"His new album, Unchained Spirit, mixes reggae, ska, and gospel harmony with his love of Jah."

Sounds like his assault on good music is on par with his affront to gays.

DUDE: Linton Kwesi Johnson is the first openly atheist reggae star. he denounced rastafarianism as simply mystical and irrational. he was also a socialist. i doubt very much that his views and buju views have a meeting point.

But, really, this has gone on for way too long, and it’s now time for them, the backward people, to stop, grow up intellectually, and move to the city of concrete ideas. Enough of this country nonsense, these muddy country attitudes, these rural idiocies. As LKJ once toasted: “This is the age of reality/the age of science and technology.”

It is interesting that you should quote an artist who has adopted Jamaica's former imperial master, Great Britain, as his home, in your denouncement of "muddy country attitudes."

Have you taken up the Western Liberal's Burden, Charles?

Dude @ 20-

What's the difference between "cultural" homophobia in the Caribbean and homophobia in this country? Most rural and suburban parts of the United States (basically everywhere outside of the cities) is rife with homophobes. Isn't that cultural? Whatever the motivation for it, homophobia should be condemned.

that was the most beautiful and eloquent responses to the controversy i have read so far on the slog. i also believe it was one of the most sensible and inspiring commentaries i have read from charles. it literally brought a tear to my eye (as lame as that sounds). as a gay man, and a fan of hip-hop, i thank you.

But people at my work say "The Beastie Boys are just as homophobic but because they are from New York they are savvy enough to hide it. Ignorant Jamacian performers just speak their mind."

So what about Homophobic Urban rappers like Beastie Boys? From what you're saying Charles homophobia is not allowed in rural performers, but it is allowed in Urban Performers? What about Ice-T?

I hate people from Red State type rural areas because they are so ignorant and cause global warming. Now that I know all rural people are also homophobic I can hate rural Red State people even more.

But if Buju was from an urban area like Ice-T then would it be OK for Buju to make homophobic songs? Is the homophobia of the Beastie Boys OK because they are from urban New York?

I hate Red State idiots as much as you do Charles and it'll be fun to tell my friends at work that I've learned in The Stranger that rural performers aren't cool anymore because only rural Red State people can be homophobic.

Beastie Boys are Jewish so it's OK for them to be Homophobic because they are from the most oppressed group themselves. It has nothing to do with them being from New York City. The Beastie Boys "Don't be a faggot" album is a classic.

Funny that Studio Seven is one of the banner ads that rotates atop Slog. Slippery slope, boys...

Ummm...So what if The Stranger calls for a boycott of Buju and then makes money promoting the show? The Stranger is a commercial newspaper - written to make money. I think Dan Savage is brilliant to stir up readership by calling for a Buju boycott at Nemos while promoting the show at the same time in his own newspaper.

The real chumps here are the Nemos assholes who were stupid enough to cancel the show. Those pussy boys caved into The Stranger and are getting just what they deserve. Imagine if Nemos had said "fuck you" to The Stranger! That would have taken some balls. Buju and The Stranger are the big winners here. Both are making money and publicity off of homophobic music. Buju couldn't ask for better publicity than what Charles is writing for him.

I fuckin' love The Stranger for being able to cover their own ass and cash in. Harvard Business School should study this fuckin' newspaper because Dan Savage is great at making money.

Because everyone knows loads of brothers are on the downlow. Defend gays and everyone assumes you are gay.

And black women already have to deal with losing all the black men to prison and white women, they can't afford for them to go gay.

To claim that Urban black gay males are on the downlow and homophobic is racist. Only rural black males are homophobic. All urban black males are honest about their sexuality. The down low only occurs among ignorant Red State black males.

I'm surprised no one on the Slog has pointed out the underlying culprit in dancehall homophobia. Popular music is a reflection of culture, and the Caribbean is virulently homophobic largely as a result of the "civilizing" influence of evangelicals spreading their own intolerant denominations among the islands: witnessess, adventists, mormons, baptists, etc.

These groups preach Leviticus mandates killing gays, and people in often chaotic and lawless societies follow thru on it, as they almost did to that CBS producer. I don't know if this artist is particularly reprehensible, he is likely just another sad byproduct of authoritarian religion.

Many American Hip Hop and Rap performers write songs about "kill the faggot" too and you won't hear a peep out of The Stranger.

That's because American performers know how to contextualize lyrics like "gunna kill me some faggots".

I pity these ignorant Jamaicans who are so twisted by religion they don't even know how to write a "kill the faggot" song in the right way like American performer Ice-T does.

Check out this list of the dozens of "kill the faggot" songs American performers have written with no problems-

Ah, yes, the finger pointing always comes back to the White Missionaries. I hate this argument, because it takes the same attitude that the missionaries do: that the whatever color/"heathen" population are passive dolls, aborbing whatever comes their way. Pump them full of Lenin & they become Communists. Pump them full of Leviticus & they become cracker bigots. Are you suggesting that Seattle Fags go down to Jamaica, pump them full of white-boy sexual excess & turn it into a hedonists paradise?

People are responsible for their own actions. You could say they were duped, and I'd agree, but as every con man knows, you can't cheat an honest man. Those who are converted are looking for an easy way out, spiritually speaking. They don't loose their spiritual responsibility by thinking that they've given it up to a "higher power."

Why don't you feel that the Jamaicans, et al shouldn't be held accountable for their backwards belief-system? Now, if you're saying the Bible is the source of this evil (which I agree), then why let the whites off the hook? Europe was happily pagan before the Xtian missionaries forced it on them (and they killed _a lot_ more than the mere 200 Christians killed by the Romans.) And if you let the Europeans off the hook, then where do you look before that for the evil influence of the Old Testament? Before I say Israel, I'm gonna stop. I don't want Josh or Shoshanna to go IDF on my ass.

So, Kimberly are we gonna fuck or are you gonna keep runnin' your fat mouth? God didn't make your mouth for talkin' you know.

And while you're up, get me another beer.

what are you guys talking about? I can't believe some guy stated that buju banton just makes homophobic songs and does not act upon his lyrics. Buju Banton and a group of men were suspected of beating a gay man so badly, after breaking into his studio, that they left him blind in one eye. his victim attests to the fact that banton was responsible for this. The Jamaican courts of course acquited banton. They never convict a man for crimes against a homosexual. Banton is an animal with no talents outside of using controversy to fuel his name. His "fame" in Jamaica is built on an act of violence and built on the crushing of a poor man who did nothing to deserve the beating that he received. for those of you who do not know his violent history, keep on blabbering about stupid shit like missionaries and debating crap that doesn't matter. The simple fact is that this violently brutal man who built his musical career by beating a gay man half to death and then getting away with it was about to come to the gayest neighborhood in seattle. I hope that banton takes his $15000 blood money that he gets from this tour and buys some weed laced with poison so that he dies. The family of the man that he beat don't get $15000. they have to care for a half blind man who can barely walk. So fuck buju banton, fuck the jamaican government.

also, there is no such thing as "contextualizing" lyrics that are advocating the killing of gays. the only thing that keeps people in this country from murdering gays and acting out on said lyrics is the threat of going to prison, not the fact that they feel that acting out on said lyrics is wrong. In Jamaica, people CAN act out on those lyrics and get away with it. that is the only difference.

So. Did anyone go to the Bufu show last night? Did it go off? Was it rad?


Why no mention of the fact that the show was scheduled to go on as planed, but at another location, in your publication piece on this topic yesterday? Seems relevant to the story...

I believe I've heard staffers indicate previously that page layouts are sent in to the printer early Tuesday, which would have been too late to make changes to the article.

The Buju show last night was great. I smoked a couple of bowls with a cute guy before so I was jazzed. I'm so glad The Stranger called for the boycott because I work with a couple of gay guys and I wanted them to be able to have their say.

But it all worked out because even though The Stranger boycotted Buju, advertisements for the Buju show were still appearing in Slog. (why would The Stranger advertise the Buju show if Buju really did beat up gay men? That would be hypoctritical!).

So I knew it was OK to both agree that the show should be boycotted and attend the show too! It's all Hegel's dialectic right? I think?!?

Anyway there were tons of cute guys at the show, and even some gay guys. The world is not really black or white. It's both. There may be bad things about Buju but his music brings all kinds of people together dancing. So that's beautiful!

Ooooops...I accidentially posted this in the one about the "faggot" posters all over Capitol Hill! Sorry.

Goddamnit Kimberly! You remember what I told you about the mouth and the talkin'? Now get downstairs and "Hegel dialectic" my "Marxian Materialism" - and watch it with the teeth this time!

And while your down there, I think I dropped the remote behind the couch. Reach under there and pull it out for me.

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