It was exactly four years ago that Buju Banton was freed from federal prison in the United States. Grateful for his freedom, the Reggae star commemorated his 2018 release on Instagram yesterday (December 8).
The post read: “I THANK YOU, THIS MAN BREAK FREE … Touch not the lords anointed. do his people no harm …”
In the caption, the Gargamel followed up with “Yes Mi Fren,” the title track of his 2020 single featuring his good friend, Stephen Marley.
Buju and Stephen’s friendship was met with high admiration during his court trial back in 2010 when the Marley heir reportedly put up his $350,000 Miami-Dade property for the bond to secure Buju’s release from the Pinellas County Jail.
At the time, Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was awaiting a trial for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. He ended up serving seven years (of a ten-year sentence) in federal prison and was released on Friday, December 8, 2018, from Georgia’s McMcRae Correctional Institute.
The song Yes Mi Fren, which appears on the Trust singer’s Upside Down 2020 album, is a testimony of friendship and support from Stephen when it counted the most.
The lyrics would tell the story of Buju’s trials and subsequent freedom thanks to the help of his friend.
“Yes my friend my friend,
man deh pon street again.
Yes my friend my friend,
dem set I free again.”
“10 years, trial and trail,
clean and pure heart make man prevail.
For my freedom ah you put up the bail,
now man deh ah road shout it pon di main,” are some of the verses.
The two would perform the track at several venues, including a tear-jerking moment at the Welcome to JamRock Cruise in December 2019.
Upon his prison release, the Reggae legend received a hero’s welcome when he arrived back in his native Jamaica. The Guardian wrote that Banton was the “most eagerly awaited arrival in Jamaica since Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie touched down in April 1966,” and described the musician as “perhaps the most famous Jamaican artist whose name isn’t Marley.”
For his first post-prison appearance at the Long Walk To Freedom concert in March 2019, around 30,000 people packed the National Stadium to see the Reggae star, with many more enjoying the event from the outside.
Since then, Buju has released his thirteenth studio album Upside Down 2020 (on June 26, 2020), through Gargamel Music and Roc Nation.
The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Reggae Album.
Buju and another close friend, Beres Hammond, are currently working on a collaborative album, and according to him, he has also completed a solo project that’s yet to be released.