When Mark Myrie, a.k.a. Buju Banton, was growing up in a slum outside Kingston, Jamaica, he had to endure some awful conditions. He was the youngest of 15 children, all of whom had been squeezed into a one-room apartment with no running water. It was harsh third-world living. Fortunately, Banton had his creativity for an outlet, and a love for the native sounds of his motherland.
Like Dominican baseball players seeking a direct flight to the major leagues, Banton was able to parlay his talents into a one-way ticket out of the slums and become one of Jamaica's most popular acts. Which is a good thing, since, unlike Dominican ball players, Jamaicans have only music to jettison them out of the ghetto.
Early in his career, Banton had a difficult time finding his identity. He cluttered his unrefined brand of dancehall with sometimes harsh and repulsive lyrics. Though the lyrics described simple tales that stemmed from his experiences as a young Jamaican, his music was not overtly accepted by the masses. It was far too underground.
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His music changed after he converted to the Rastafarian faith. The messages in his songs became sincere, even positive. Mainstream audiences welcomed him. And still do.