Mark Myrie, the global dancehall and reggae superstar known as Buju Banton, will be released from prison on December 8, 2018, according to a report in The Guardian. Banton was sentenced to ten years in prison in June 2011 after he was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. He will reportedly be flown from Miami, Florida, to Kingston, Jamaica.
Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Jamaica's minister of culture, told The Guardian she expects Banton will receive a hero's welcome – his music is some of the most critically revered in the country's history, and in 1992 surpassed Bob Marley for most No. 1 singles in Jamaica. "Buju was loved long before he was convicted and he will be loved just the same, even if he comes home in handcuffs," Grange said.
Banton was also notorious for the 1992 song "Boom Bye Bye," a track which advocated the murder of homosexuals, written when he was 15 and performed throughout his career. After protests led to 28 of his concerts to be cancelled between 2005 and 2011, Banton signed the "Reggae Compassion Act," pledging “to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.”
The Guardian reports that Banton has been writing songs during his incarceration, with a full project that is "ready to go." In a statement, Banton described his prison stay as "traumatizing not just on myself, but on my family as well as emotionally draining. For me, I drew strength from immersing myself in my situation. Do not live in yesterday but live in today. And education was the only thing that kept me up and alive. I immersed myself in reading so much – theology, philosophy and other subjects.”