Before there was Vybz Kartel, there was Addi Banton, and Buju Banton played a major role in the eniga we know today as Vybz Kartel aka Worl’Boss.
So much of an artiste’s own body of work is conceptualized from and around the things and people who they draw their inspiration from. However, what if that same person who serves as your inspiration then disrespected you while you were on the brink of success, only to jig to you once you have crossed over to the winning threshold? This is seemingly a short summary of the relationship, at least what has been documented in the media, shared between two of the island’s biggest acts, Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel.
Even though they seemingly ruled in two different eras, they have both made a tremendous impact and change to the way dancehall music coming out of Jamaica is made and consumed. While the two potent talents have dominated the music business, they have also faced tough realities, with both doing time behind bars. While both men currently share different circumstances in terms of their level of freedom, they have still managed to once again come off as congruent in nature, by releasing their albums on the same day.
During a ‘Boomshots’ interview with Vibe Magazine a few days ago, Vybz Kartel spoke on various topics, including his recently released Grammy hopeful, full-bodied album ‘Of Dons & Divas. Kartel’s 18 track project, which was released on June 26 and produced by Short Boss Muzik, landed on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart at number 6. Meanwhile, Buju’s Upside Down debuted at number 2.
When questioned about Buju’s album having the same release date, he said, “It’s coincidence but isn’t it maad?”
The Worlboss then went on to express the good that could come about as a result of the said phenomenon. He added, “And good for the music too because I think it’ll bring a buzz to the whole Grammy-mania in Jamaica. Like I said he’s my deejay so for me it’s great. I want him to sell 10 mil on the first day. Me? 10.1 mil—LOL.”
This admiration and respect for the name Banton has been nearly 40 years in the making. Buju lifted the term Banton from another prominent deejay at the time, Burro Banton, and took on a full-fledged career during the late 80s. His big break would later come during the early 90s when he linked with Dave Kelly at Penthouse Records. The partnership would help to cement Buju’s place in history with critical releases such as the double drop in 1992, “Stamina Daddy” and “Mr. Mention.” Does the double release sound familiar? Well, Vybz Kartel has pulled off the near-impossible fete for 2020, with the release of To Tanesha in January and now ‘Of Dons & Divas 6 months later.
“When I heard Buju Banton I was captured instantly,” recalled Vybz Kartel before recounting how he became hooked to Buju while being a student at Calabar. “I remember I left school and went straight to Chancery Lane and bought “Stamina Daddy.” I even tried to call the 9277039 # even though he SPECIFICALLY said “girls here is my line…”
Vybz Kartel would then go on to express something Bounty Killer himself said a few weeks prior. “Ninja Man and Buju are my two main influences in music,” he mentioned before hinting that he copied the number gimmick used by Buju in his lead single off Stamina Daddy for one of his hit songs, “BTW I gave out a number of my own in “Kartel Completely” ft Gaza Indu.”
Vybz Kartel, who during the early part of his career, use the moniker Adi Banton, would go on to drop his first release, “Love Fat Woman,” in 1993.
During the same period, the Gargamel would go on to dominate the 90s through albums such as Voice of Jamaica in 1993 and ‘Til Shiloh and Inna Heights, which followed in short order. Vybz Kartel was also busy finding his footing in the business with his own crew Vybz Cartel, a name he would later convert to his own moniker. Kartel eventually linked with Bounty Killer, whose career was now fully cemented. This move saw him writing tracks for the Warlord, earning him his place among the other members of Bounty Killer’s camp, later dubbed the Alliance.
One unforgettable night of Kartel’s rise to fame involved him coming face to face with his idol Buju Banton, only for the incident to be seen as one of the lower points of Buju’s kingship. During a stage show performance in 2002, Bounty, a then relatively unknown Kartel and Buju Banton, were all on stage. During Vybz Kartel’s delivery of “Gal Clown,” Buju snatched the microphone.
The disrespectful move forced a diplomatic type response from Vybz Kartel’s mentor at the time Bounty Killer. “Gargamel no disrespect but you can’t disrespect the young artist them like that,” Bounty said after receiving the microphone from Buju. “You have to set example see what me a say. Because him a sing a one tune and him a deejay for the people them and him naan over doing it. Him don’t even get in the chorus anyway no disrespect.”
A lot has changed since that incident, however, in an Onstage interview with Winford Williams some months ago, Buju Banton seemingly questioned the growth potential of the music being released by artiste in general, with seemingly less pressured levied to the incarcerated Vybz Kartel. “Me come out ah work house (prison) and a Kartel me see run the place, same way,” he said.
While referencing Buju’s earlier comments, Vybz Kartel gave a breakdown of his fanbase during his interview with Boomshots.
“My core fanbase is still young adults even though I’ve been around long enough to have fans who have grandkids,” he said before revealing the little he knew about Buju’s fans, “I don’t know Buju’s core except that i am one.”
Of the two recently released projects, Upside Down as dropped from number 2 to number 3, meanwhile, ‘Of Dons and Divas has fallen out of the top 10. However, the GAZA fan love is still powerful therefore, we could see a return to the upper echelons of the chart in short order.