Cee and Dee took a break from the 30 degree weather in New York to go visit family in Fort Lauderdale. We were out doing some random shopping when Cee got an unexpected and very excitable phone call. At the end of the phone call, Cee came over to me and said “Guess what? We going to see Buju!” Cee and I started jumping up and down in di people dem store and caused a few questionable stares. We calmed ourselves and cut the shopping short to go home and pick out our outfits to see “Buju and Friends,” live in concert at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.
We picked out our leggings, tunics, bold jewelry, and our trendy military boots and start chat bout di girls dem who were gonna wear 5 inch platform pumps to a live concert. Anyway, we decided to take a little nap to recover some strength, and hopefully lose the lingering hangover from last night, when we went to Jazzy T and Sean Paul’s birthday party at Karu & Y, also in Miami. We woke up two hours later and hungry did a bite, luckily, our Auntie made stew peas with chicken foot, salt beef, stew beef and di small dumpling dem. We eat real fast then jump in the shower and get dress before di Itis could take hold.
Our ride came and we were speeding down the highway, that’s when I realized that people in Florida think 80 miles an hour is a normal speed limit, and that switching lanes without using your indicator is also normal. Man, I was kinda fraid. Thank god we reach the venue O.K. We picked up our VIP bands ($120.00 each) and proceeded to the security check point. Security was airport tight and they search my bag and said cameras are not allowed inside. After some complaining they say to take out the battery and put it in the rubbish. I said, “ok” and just as swiftly dump the batteries in my double DD bra “hello”. We reached in and quickly assembled the camera back together and we were ready to point and shoot.
The general admission ($65) venue was packed and people did a stand up pon wall and post fi see di stage. The smoke from the jerk chicken helped to mask the scent of the other famous Jamaican tree smoke, and the combination was quite lovely. We had some difficulties locating the VIP entrance since there was no sign indicating the direction. After walking in a circle, we found the entrance and proceeded to VIP where we were met with lots of available seats and space.
Tony Matterhorn was the MC for the warm up acts, he introduced an entertainer I didn’t recognize, who came on stage and serenaded the crowd while throwing in some random Gargamel inspired locks shaking and dancing. Sean Paul took the stage and had mass appeal, Spragga come out and do him ting, Shaggy mash up di place with his high energy singing and well-timed skits, I think Goofy was there or maybe just somebody who look like Goofy, oh no it was Wayne Wonder, sorry. Tony Matterhorn started a New York vs. Miami shouting contest and of course New York win cause hey, its New York. Trinidad and Guyana was live in the building so of course, Matterhorn tease dem and sey Machel Montano deh back stage. The American vibes took the stage with rapper DJ Khaled and Busta Rhymes. Busta start chat potios and mash up di place. An Irie Jam radio host came out dissing Red Bull while endorsing the new energy drink name Boom, Lime Tv got nuff love for streaming the concert live to Jamaica so that all the artist dem like Beenie man, and Bounty Killer who can’t travel right now could watch live.
The audience was reminded about the importance of this concert as no one really knew what would happen to our beloved Buju Banton (he was found guilty). The lights were dimmed and the back-up singers started to belt out some gospel songs and the audience’s love for Gargamel filled the air as “I love you’s” and “Free Buju” could be heard in chants. Buju appeared slowly, looking extra dapper in his black dress pants, black shoes, and crisp white shirt with his dreads ever long, lovely, and flowing. Buju went to the middle of the stage and sang “Destiny” as his opening act emphasizing the fact that he wants to control his own destiny. The crowded responded by singing all the words to let the Gargamel know that the love and support was ever strong.
The first few songs were slow and more along the conscious level. By the middle section, Buju was live and happening, singing some of his popular tunes like “Murderer” “Untold Stories” “One to One” and many more hits. Him do him jump up and down dance and flash the locks dem like a lion flashing shackles off his mane. Buju reasoned with the crowd and ask the crowd why some people don’t like him, asking if it’s because of his “Boom bye bye” tune or because him black and don’t hide. Needless to say, the crowd mash up di place with fog-horn noise (pernnnnnnnnnnnnn), foot stomping, hand clapping, chair beating and wall slapping.
Buju shared one of his youthful stories of how a certain older female entertainer influenced his music. Buju introduced the revered Marcia Griffiths and the two sang a duo. Buju hailed Beres Hammond who could not attend the concert because of prior engagements, so Buju just sing a Beres tune and him did sing de Beres. Buju change up the pace and invited out Stephen Marley who sang and jumped around like his iconic father, Bob Marley. Buju also called out Damien “Junior Gong” Marley but Junior Gong just trace off di Feds dem fi Buju, saying di things that the Gargamel can’t say right now. Junior Gong said something like this; “Basically, little hustling a fi gwan; uno nu have better tings fi do right now dan a badda de DJ.” The Marley and Buju combination was very riveting as all three sang and a flash dem dreads. Then, the Marley dem leave the stage and Buju say bye bye and the next word out of his mouth was “Driver,” mi tink earthquake start cause di people dem start shake down the concrete and iron in American Airlines Arena. The concert reached its peak at this time, as man, woman, child and even de police start to hold a vibes. After “Driver” we decide to exit the building before everybody start to leave, as we did not want to get trapped in the massive traffic that would soon happen when the thousands of people in attendance decided to leave at the same time. We were still singing and rocking while walking to the car, as the voice of Mark Anthony “Buju Gargamel Banton” Myrie could be heard out in the streets of Miami on Sunday January 16, 2011.