Buju Banton, anti-gay reggae star, has U.S. tour canceled by promoters

The Jamaican dancehall star Buju Banton has a long-standing reputation for inciting anti-gay sentiment (his 1992 single “Boom Bye Bye” proposes pouring acid on homosexuals and shooting them in the head with an Uzi, among other things; in 2004, he was tried and acquitted on charges that he participated in the beating of six gay men).

Now, after months of organized protest, both AEG Live/Goldenvoice (the company that produces festivals like Coachella All Points West, and Bumbershoot) and Live Nation (the massive concert promoters behind 360 deals with Jay-Z, Madonna and U2) announced last night that they have canceled their respective concerts with Banton, who was scheduled to perform in major markets across the country through October.

Says L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean in a formal statement: “I hope this victory sends a deafeningly loud message to other promoters and concert venues that singers who glorify violence against LGBT people, or any group of people, should never be welcomed. It shouldn’t be necessary for us to pressure promoters to do the right thing; people like Banton should never have been booked in the first place.”

What do you think, Music Mixers? Should concert promoters be responsible for determining what constitutes untenable hate speech when it comes to booking artists? Would it make any difference if Banton were not keeping”Boom Boom Bye” in his set list in recent concerts? Watch the singer at work, below:

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Comments (229 total) Add your comment
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  • Garry

    They should never have booked him. Would they have made arrangements with him if he was promoting racially based violence? Come on this should never have been an issue. He can keep that BS in Jamaica.

    • Lloyd Baltazar

      I agree, you should know at as of this moment,


      As of TODAY, his LOS ANGELES, PHILADELPHIA, and SAN FRANCISCO tour events are also cancelled with full complete ticket refunds/exchange from LiveNation.

      • Richard Inman

        And as of 10/3, his show at a local venue in Charleston, SC (my home) was cancelled. (Interesting he would even perform where a Vogue contest was held just a couple months ago. Some one should rewrite his song and replace “battyboi” with “Buju Banton”.

  • Monique

    I think the line should be drawn when someone threatens and/or promotes violence against a group of individuals, such as what this rapper seems to have done.

    • Monique

      oops, means reggae singer.

    • Eric

      Monique what are you talking about? “Boom Bye Bye” was written more 16 years ago! Back when people had the ability to speak there minds. 1st ammendment!!!

  • cls

    There is no free speech issue here. This moron’s speech is still free, others just choose not to work with him, which is also their right. Anyone may say what they want, and others are free to shun them if they wish. He, or I, or you, have no right to give a concert in conjunction with unwilling people. With our own resources or those others voluntarily make avaialable, we do. But we have no right to make others work with us when they don’t wish to.

    • tom jones

      no man to man, fire

  • crispy

    Oh, gimme a break. This has zero to do with freedom of speech or anyone’s rights being infringed, which would only be relevant if the U.S. government was canceling his shows. This is about marketing companies distancing themselves from an artist they don’t want their brands associated with. Rightly so, I might add.

    • Goodone

      Hear Hear

    • jon

      If people have the right to not work with him for his Pro-Heterosexual views, then companies should be able to not hire gay people, and not be forced to have them as co-workers. Rightly so. That would be just.

  • Luddite

    Has any move been made to ban Banton from performing in the U.S.? From this article, it doesn’t sound like it. Honestly, asking whether his rights are being violated is reactionary and shows a fairly weak grasp on what precisely your right to free speech entails. Just as he has the right to express his opinions, AEG and LiveNation have the right to express theirs – in this case, by refusing their services.

    • Alan Binkow

      Luddite — you are right, AEG and LiveNation (and us!) have the right to refusing him services. But no one can be banned from performing. It’s called the First Amendment; he has the right to his views, and (if he can find a venue) the right to shout his views at the top of his lungs. And although I think his views are appalling and obscene, I will defend his right to do so at the top of MY lungs. Who knows who the next group to be banned might be? You? Me?

      • NomanAhcry

        This is unfair, his music is a protest just like those who protest to him. Lgbt doesn’t bother me but what they are doing to him is wrong! There is freedom of speech for everyone. Now because you know his make his money perform him removing Boom ByeBye wasn’t enough!

  • Bruce L

    “Where should the line between free speech and hate speech be drawn…?” At open attempts to encourage hatred, one hopes. And definitely at advocations towards violence.

  • Bruce L

    But, as others seem to have noted already, this is not a free speech issue. Sponsors simply don’t want to be associated with this guy or the garbage he advocates. That’s their right, and in this case, they’re right to enforce it.

    • Taylor

      Bruce L,he is not advocating garbage, in case you are too dumb to realize it.

  • MIke

    Thank goodness for cls and crispy before me! Leah — your question, “Does [he] have a right to perform in America?” is ridiculous and does NOT relate to your story. Even the rep from the LA Gay and Lesbian Center used the language that performers who bring messages such as his “are not welcome” — not banned, not censored. Unwelcome. Did you ramp up the significance of this story simply to provoke, or do you actually not see the difference?

  • Lloyd Baltazar

    Thank God his Las Vegas, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas Tour events are cancelled.

    In addition, as of TODAY, His Los Angeles, Philadelphia AND San Francisco tour events are cancelled.

    this is due to the many people demanding their ticket refunds from the concert.

    LiveNation is granting full refund for cities that request the ticket for an exchange or in which the tour has been cancelled. Banton’s LA tour is cancelled. Yay. LiveNation is right to not want to associate themselves with Trash “music” like this.

  • Adriano

    Good. These people can’t go round advocating urder on a genucidal scale. He belongs behind bars.

  • Bobby’s Robot

    The question is, since he has had a reputation for hate speech since at least 1992, why was he booked in the first place? And then only cancelled after organized protests?

  • Tina

    I agree with pretty much everyone. If he wants to tour the US, let him pay for it. For someone who promotes violence to a certain population, it would be ridiculous for a company to fund his tour.

  • Bill

    This ‘musician’ is certain to get what’s coming to him. What a sorry excuse for a human being.

  • Kevin

    If im not mistaken, a lot of Jamaican dancehall aratists have an extreme hatred toward homosexuals. Didn’t Beeny Man spout disparaging remarks about gays a few years ago? I think it must be hatred taught in Jamaica…

    • Julie

      I am probably the only person on this blog who is disappointed about the cancellations. I love Buju’s music… Aside from his one controversial song “Boom Bye Bye” he has a long repertoire of culturally-inspiring, enriching and positive music. I have always enjoyed seeing him perform!

      • James

        Good Julie – I am glad you like to support “artists” that not only sing about hate but than also go out and participate in beatings. Are you sad that Hitler is dead too?

      • A.T

        James was he convicted of beating anyone no so shut the hell up!!!

      • Truthman

        You know, you’re right…and Hitler had a long history of making the trains run on time…how misunderstood some people are…:)

      • Buju Girl

        he does has inspiring music and he is also free to say whatever he wants. I love his music, including “Boom Bye Bye”> I listen to that song while little and I have not been violent against anyone. People must take responsibility for their own actions and not say the song made me do it

    • Taylor

      Kevin,it is spelled Beenie Man.Why don’t you shut your mouth.

      • Truthman

        Like yeah, like I know what you mean…Like, I used to love to watch Hitlers speaches ya know…Well ok, like accept for the I hate jews part…but aside from that… he like had great energy like, ya know …
        Ok, for those of you not well versed in the art of snarky sarcastic faux response…this was one…
        As for you Buju and Benie man…bend over

    • NomanAhcry

      Kevin and all of you are unfair.. One song will not define Buju Banton… But a life time of sodomite living will define those of you… They violence in that one song is not right and I am not advocating it. However, lot of you are judge mental… He was never convicted either, and it never incited vilence at his shows b/c gays lesbians and bisexuals don’t go to his show… and He doesn’t go to their shows’…

      • Truthman

        Your sodomite comment let us know everything about you we needed to know…
        No, you’re not advocating violence are you, and neither is Buju right?… and the animals who attacked Matthew Shepherd were just poor misunderstood nice young gentlemen…how unfair of us to call out bigotry when we see it. How wronged you’ve been… you poor thing

    • Truthman

      You are right, Oprah covered Jamaca in a show about cultural anti gay sentiment and Jamaca in general is rife with it…

    • Roberta

      Kevin, as a Jamaican, I take total offense to the insinuation that Hate is taught in Jamaica but I will never disrespect you because thogh your “facts” are totally unfounded, you have a right to free speech. Buju sang this sung when he was merely a young budding artist, he has matured since and should not today still being punished for what happened 18 years ago. As for the attack on the gays; he was acquitted but you clearly have convicted him, locked him up and thrown away the key.

      • dazia

        No free speech issue, people just chose not to work with his hatred inspiring ass.

    • Niki

      Kevin, That is the stupidest thing I ever heard, Hatred is not taught. Jamaicans, like most people from the islands, we did not grow up seeing men fondling all over each other. The music was made at a time when a gay man raped and killed a young boy, Buju was 15yrs old at the time. He later remade the song 3 yrs later. He has a right to express his feelings and people have a right to say how they feel about the song. But the effort that is put into banning him and all protesting his concerts is a waste of time. This is bringing more publicity to the song and it does not stop people from going to his concerts. I love the music and I feel exactly how he feels. That does not mean that I am stupid enough to shoot someone. We are all god’s children and each will be judge for their actions when that time comes. This is the only country that he is having problems with and guess what we Jamaicans don’t care what other people think. We support him one no matter what. It is just time to move on and pick on someone else.

      • Eric

        I totally agree Niki, there is all kinds of violent music being played everyday. This man makes a song in 1992 and now he’s being singled out. Homosexuals are allowed to speak about how they feel so why can he?

    • Eric

      Not hatred Kevin, just the basic principles of life.

  • Snarf

    He shouldn’t have been booked to begin with. The man clearly has some unresolved personal issues if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

    • Marcus

      “Unresolved personal issues”? Wow, that’s SO ambiguous. That could mean anything.

      I agree with everyone, though. It’s the job of the government to allow an open forum for free speech, not private organizations or concert promoters.

      And Buju Banton is clearly a homophobe. Eminem uses gay slurs in his lyrics, but he is clearly a satirist making fun of insecure celebrities (albeit, in a very brutal way.) And he doesn’t single one group out for defamation, unlike Buju Banton.

      • NomanAhcry

        Marcus, the Bible single gays, lesbians and fornicators… Do you want to cancel Church… I think the also used fire and brimstone… Are you an atheist?

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