Early in 2009, legendary reggae performer Buju Banton stood behind a microphone at his Gargamel Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, and belted out what now seems to be a frighteningly prophetic tune: "Innocent." "Jah knows I'm innocent. Jah knows I'm innocent," the track opens, the 39-year-old artist's gravelly sing-song style stretching the last syllable for emphasis. After the brass section kicks in, he wails, "The forces have gathered, for what I don't know, I really don't know." A few months after recording the song, Buju was 600 miles away from his homeland, loafing around his Tamarac duplex in pajamas. Then there was a knock at the door.
The legal woes of imprisoned reggae superstar Buju Banton continue to mount after a Florida court on Aug. 7 denied his request for a retrial on his drug conviction, and the possibility that he may face additional charges. Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was sentenced in February 2011 to 10 years in prison after he was convicted on three drug-related charges, including conspiracy to distribute cocaine and aiding and abetting a person’s use of a telephone to facilitate a drug crime. In December, Buju’s legal team, led by Florida-based attorney David Oscar Markus, appealed the sentence, citing a potential violation of the Speedy Trial Act, and the questionable nature of renowned government informant, Alexander Johnson, among other grounds for dismissal.