Reggae icon Buju Banton is urging fans to lead with love by permanently banning the breakout hit “Boom Bye Bye” from his catalog.
News of the move recirculated after his Long Walk To Freedom comeback concert earlier this month when fans noticed the artist didn’t perform his 1992 classic. Banton was released from prison earlier this year after serving a seven-year sentence related to drug charges.
The song, which includes a sample of Cobra’s “Flex,” includes anti-gay lyrics like “Boom bye bye inna batty bwoy head/Rude bwoy nah promote no nasty man, dem haffi dead,” which in patios means shooting a gay man in the head. In the past, Banton has pointed out that he was 15-years-old when he wrote the song, which was originally about a pedophile who was caught molesting young boys in Banton’s neighborhood in Jamaica.
“In recent days there has been a great deal of press coverage about the song “Boom Bye Bye” from my past which I long ago stopped performing and removed from any platform that I control or have influence over,” Banton told Urban Islandz. Banton hasn’t performed the song since 2007 but decided to speak out once again about the track.
“I recognize that the song has caused much pain to listeners, as well as to my fans, my family and myself. After all the adversity we’ve been through I am determined to put this song in the past and continue moving forward as an artist and as a man. I affirm once and for all that everyone has the right to live as they so choose. In the words of the great Dennis Brown, ‘Love and hate can never be friends.’ I welcome everyone to my shows in a spirit of peace and love. Please come join me in that same spirit.”
In the past week, the song has been removed from streaming services like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music. The video, which reached nearly 30 million views on YouTube, was also removed from his account.
Banton’s move to mute the song in 2007 was in solidarity with the Reggae Compassionate Act under the Stop Murder Music Campaign. The legislation introduced by the Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group was also supported by other reggae icons like Beanie Man, Bounty Killer and Capleton in an effort to bring an end to homophobic lyrics and attacks against the LGBTQ community in Carribean islands. At the time, artists faced backlash for not performing the songs since other tracks like “Boom Bye Bye” became crossover hits.
Jamrock Sound principal Hugh ‘Redman’ James also defended Banton’s decision to axe the song from his catalog. “I go to all the rehearsals and he don’t do that song, he don’t rehearse that song,” James said. “That is the song that kinda shoot him a bit, so him bury up that.”
The track may have brought Banton public fanfare in the 90s, but other tracks like “Action,” “Wanna Be Loved” and “Untold Stories” have solidified his legacy and growth.