L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center condemns anti-gay Buju Banton Grammy nod as 'affront to all LGBT people'

In a posting to their website on Friday, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center condemned what they called “the appalling Grammy nomination for Buju Banton, a performer whose music promotes the violent murder of LGBT people.” The Recording Academy announced on Wednesday that Banton’s 2009 album Rasta Got Soul was nominated for Best Reggae Album.

“We’re shocked that Buju Banton, a singer with a long record of performing a song that glorifies the murder of gay people, would be honored with a Grammy nomination, regardless of the artistic merit of any of his work,” said the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s public affairs officer Jim Key, in a statement on the website. “Throughout his career, Banton has performed music that promotes a culture of violence against lesbian and gay people; he sings in ‘Boom, Bye Bye’ that ‘faggots get up and run’ when he comes, that ‘they have to die,’ and that he will shoot them in the head or ‘burn them up bad.’ He is completely unrepentant, refuses to stop performing the song.”

A rep at Gargamel Records, the label behind Banton’s last album, released this statement to EW: “Gargamel Music, Inc. is extremely proud of Buju Banton’s recent Grammy nod for Best Reggae Album for Rasta Got Soul. The fact that this is Buju Banton’s fourth nomination by the Recording Academy is a testament to his artistic excellence and career-long commitment to making quality music that can indeed touch the world.”

Meanwhile, a rep for Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards, said on Dec. 7 via a statement: “The Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards have a long history of supporting freedom of speech and creative expression, and of supporting artists and the music they create. Artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast, despite protests and backlash. The Academy acknowledges that there are very strong and diverse opinions on many issues and in many instances, we have helped initiate dialogue on matters that require education and further discussion. It takes tolerance to teach tolerance, and it is through dialogue and debate that social discovery may occur. The Grammy Awards is a celebration and recognition of outstanding musical achievement by music makers, regardless of politics, and that will continue to be our mission.”

Comments (102 total) Add your comment
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  • Gregoire

    Buju Banton is a scumbag and I no way condone his anti-gay rhetoric, but do they think he’s the first blatant homophobe to ever get a Grammy nomination?

  • AcaseofGeo

    So the LGBT get upset only when violence in music is directed against lesbians and gays? Where is the protest against all kinds of murderous violence in rap music? If there had been, 20 plus years ago, rabid and a CONCERTED joint effort across ethnic and sexual borders against stuff like NWA’s “Cop Killer”, then maybe we wouldnt have this. But I dont see any LGBT campaigning against that…VERY SHORT SIGHTED and proof that these kinds of organizations have tunnel vision that reflects only on themselves. And I can say this, cuz I am Gay.

    • Liz

      You’re a fool. The uproar over violence in music has come from all sides. It doesn’t matter what organizations say until the people of this country stand up and realize that they are allowing violence in music by listening to that kind of junk it will never change. Oh and I’m gay too so I’m allowed to say it.

      • Anthony

        since when does a persons views affect the quality of his music? I’m all for equal rights, but chill the fuuuuuc% out!

      • Tarc

        Yeah, Anthony, you’d change your tune if he was promoting targeting black people for massacre. Get real – you know as well as I do that the message matters. Buju Banton is a heinous creep that does not, in any way, deserve a seconds recognition from anyone.

    • Chris

      NWA didn’t perform Cop Killer… it was Ice T’s Body Count.


        As a SriLankin from Syracuse, I find that offensive.

      • AcaseofGeo

        I wrote it spur of the moment, sorry if I got the credits wrong. Liz, you make a good point(even if you call me a fool), but if you think there has been enough protest against this kind of music, maybe so, but certainly NOT from the music industry itself.

    • Fatima

      Considering they are a group that concerns itself with issues surrounding gay culture, how is it surprising they focus on something that pertains to them specifically? They’re not the ACLU.

    • Karlover

      That’s a really dumb argument. I mean, why is that PETA only cares when Michael Vick kills some dogs but doesn’t stand up and protest over the atrocities in Darfur? Their job and position is supposed to have “tunnel-vision”!

      Oh, and I can say this because I’m a human being. That’s the only group you need to belong to in order to stand up for what’s right.

      • Gigi

        Well said

      • hoganbcmj

        VERY well said!

    • crispy

      Wow, you’re a really dumb gay then! Of course these organizations have “tunnel vision.” Why would an LGBT group waste its extremely limited resources on issues that aren’t pertinent to LGBT causes?

      • psychoanalyzer

        right on.

      • AcaseofGeo

        Well everyone thanx for calling me a fool or dumb or whatever. I think you can argue against my point without resorting to that. And you all make some excellent reasons for your arguments. However I do think being concerned for all human beings is better than the “tunnel vision” you suggest is good for GLBT or other orgs. Oh yeah, and also I’m glad everyone mocks my “And I can say that because I’m gay”…funny guys.

      • anonymous

        They’re not calling you a fool because they disagree with you. They’re calling you a fool because you ARE a fool. Don’t like it? Then stop thinking opinions can’t be wrong and start learning. A little listening instead of speaking couldn’t hurt, either.

      • AcaseofGeo

        Hey Anonymous. I don’t think I’m mistaken in saying that certain orgs are very tunnel visioned in their actions. Someone else wrote that that is something that should be basically obvious and that person was right. I’m saying worrying about the human condition in general is far better than myopic agendas. I didn’t really voice an opinion that is wrong, just an opinion. Oh yeah, I’m listening and I didn’t post ANYTHING that suggested that I wasn’t listening, I even complimented some other opinions written in response to mine (as proof).

    • Ben

      Well said, AcaseofGeo. And I can say this because I’m right.

    • Scott

      Um…yeah I’m gay too. In response to AcaseofGeo. Its kind of a dumb statement to say that organizations that are developed based on their community would be upset when their community feels attacked or insulted. Thats what special interest groups work on. Events and issues that specifically effect that group. Its impossible for somebody to try to save the world. Real people that want change will try to change the world that effects them and their community. At least they are standing up for what they believe in and doing something about it. I’m just stating your arguement that community based organizations comes off ignorant and foolish. However, in your defense, I am also a musician and believe in artistic freedom. He’s not actually killing gays. I still love Eminem, and 5 – 10 years ago he was getting the same crap. Does it make him a great person…IDK, I never heard of this artist. I don’t like the message he saying either, but I support his right to say it.

    • Pete

      DO you make a comment on all organization’s so-called “tunnel vision” since I don’t see any organization protest over issues affecting every single group of “victims”. If no, then based on your logic, your comment here is also of a tunnel vision

    • yuck

      TMI acaseofgeo

  • doug

    When will these activist groups realize that making a big deal out of something just draws attention to it. I have never heard of this guy but now I’m going to listen to the song because of this article.

    • Geo

      Uh, did you read the story? He’s nominated for a Grammy. How is THAT not calling attention to him?

      And if you feel some immediate compulsion to run out and listen to a song about killing gay people because of this, it reflects badly on you more than anything else. What, were you looking for someone to “call attention” to something violently homophobic to give you some excuse to wallow in it? ’cause that’s sure what your post sounds like.

    • anonymous

      B- trolling attempt. Make it a little less obvious.

      • Takahito

        They sdohlun’t be. But, free speech laws allow for a certain amount of hate.I don’t think venues or record labels should be signing any of these bastards.

  • Fatima

    I don’t think their should be censorship (as in, this man can have an album if he wants to), but I am surprised the Grammy’s would award him. I find this pretty disgusting to be honest. All this Pleasure P drama that came out this week too is making the Grammy’s look pretty terrible!

    • Phil

      Hey Fatima…you heard any of this noise yet about the Black Eyed Peas!? Outright steaking the track for thier song “Party All The Time” from Adam Freeland!? Apparently they settled the suit this week right after the announcements, (search the net!) but said their are plenty of more lawsuits coming soon, since Will.i.am stole a ton of beats, kinda sad, since I respect them alot for going out on a limb and working with David Guetta.
      I think the Pleasure P drama is legit too, eventhough he’s trying to deny it. it probably coulda stayed buried if he had just PAID up. Amazing how people will do anythintg to hide facts, but to finish the job, and PAY whoever did the dirty work for ‘em…always seems to come last.
      Oh and since this item is about Buju…he hasn’t had a reggae hit on the radio in years. I remember a song or two by him when I was a teenager, and reggae & hip-hop were just starting to blow up. I think most radio programmers know the deal with him and avoid playing any of his records even if they’re semi hot. I am sure he has a following, as many hardcore reggae fans don’t accept homosexuality, but a good protion of radio programmers or programming departments have a gay employee or two, so I am sure that also effects his populairty or the radio. If the Grammys want to nominate him, thats fine, I guess, as long as he doesn’t win, cause then I’d be kinda upset.

    • BH

      Why are you putting an apostrophe in the word Grammys?

      • Sue1

        Why do you feel the need to point it out…

      • Tarc

        Because people without anything real to say have plnety of time to nit typos and punctuation.

  • davidsask

    The Grammy people are so stupid they probably didn’t even know before nominating him!

  • Menchy

    Well, if we’re gonna be realistic here, I doubt the grammy’s have even heard his album… not because I think they wouldn’t nominate it, but because as evidenced by their nominations every year… I doubt the grammy voters actually listen to ANY music…

    • coco

      for sure! the grammys are not even relevant anymore. its a popularity contest, with alittle bit of politics thrown in.

    • anonymous

      …Point. Still worth criticizing, though.

  • Ben

    The thing that offends me is that the Recording Academy think they have any business judging what is good music and what isn’t. I mean, the Black Eyed Peas? Seriously? Do these people even know what music is?

  • ben

    On behalf of little people everywhere, I’m appalled the Grammys gave so much recognition to Taylor Swift.

  • reagan

    Oh dear Lord.. He wrote and sang that song like almost 15 years ago. He hasnt sung another one since.. Pick on someone else now!!! How long is he going to be subjected to this!!! Shame on LGBT

    • crispy

      Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die like 10 whole years ago! OMG, how long is his mother gonna be upset about that?

      • jasunshine

        That is the biggest non sequitor I’ve seen in a long time. The Academy is not honoring the music he wrote 15 years ago. They’re honoring what he’s doing now. Roman Polanski is an awful human being but the Pianist was an amazing movie and was honored as such. That doesn’t mean what he did decades before is forgotten. I think he deserves to be tried for that. But no matter what happens, The Pianist, which doesn’t contain offensive material, will still be a great movie. These two things can and should be judged independently from each other.

      • Sue1

        Well said.

      • Ben

        I know! And Matthew Shepard has everything to do with the issue at hand!

      • r

        Um, Crispy, get your facts straight. Shepar doesn’t have much to do with this. The men who beat him were just trying to rob him and only beat the hell out of him because the man with the gun had just done a ton of meth and had failed to rob his initial targets. Plus they were pseudo friends with shepard and partied together which is why he got a ride with them and the actual murderer was bisexual and had a three way with a mutual friend of the two. So it wasn’t a hate crime. The whole homophobia thing was built by gay students and the media. And I am sure of this because I just researched it because I had no clue who the hell Matt Shepard was.

    • Grimm

      15 years? Try a few weeks, at best. As recently as October of this year, Banton told the Jamaica Observor newspaper that, quote “there is no end to the war between me and f*gg*t [anti-gay explicit]”. And, please, if you can find a quote where Banton has specifically rescinded or condemned his song “Boom Boom Bye Bye”– which called for the torture and murder of gays by means like pouring acid on them– in anything other than the vaguest, non-committal terms please post that quote and its source. I think a lot of people would be really interested to see that, since as far as I’ve seen, Banton himself has never disowned that reprehensible song, and has only made extremely vague statements about “love and peace” only when his concerts were being threatened with boycott and he risked losing profit. If Banton were going to disown the song, or even if he just had a conscience, shouldn’t he have come out forcefully against it when immediately after the murder of gay activist Brian Williamson in Jamaica in 2004, a large crowd of men gathered outside the deceased’s apartment and began loudly singing Banton’s anti-gay anthem “Boom Boom Bye Bye”? This was well-publicized in Jamaica. Did Banton step forward and denounce that action? Nope. Instead, in 2009, he’s still throwing around anti-gay epithets like “f*gg*t” in interviews. And let’s remember that Banton was arrested just this decade in Jamaica for suspicion of being involved in a violent anti-gay attack where a gay man’s eye was gouged out. Pretending that Banton’s only anti-gay activity was 15 years ago is ludicrously wrong.

    • jim

      I’m proud of the LGBT center. I like the idea that we no longer tolerate anyone who treats us as less than equals.

    • anonymous

      Your point is well taken, reagan, as is jasunshine’s point about The Pianist. But I think the issue here is that he STILL performs this song on a regular basis and spouts anti-gay epithets any chance he gets. Regardless of how great his current art may be (I can’t speak to that at all), I believe the LGBT community is perfectly justified in being pissed at any awards a hatemonger receives.

  • Chad

    I could care less about the Grammys (Grammies?), but Buju Banton really is a horrible human being and shouldn’t be getting any attention, critically or commercially. Imagine if Michael Vick wrote a song about knocking dog’s teeth out? You think any organization would honor him with any form of award at any point in his career. Probably not.

    Banton just needs to go away, and recognizing him in any form is not helping that cause.

    • jasunshine

      Earlier I posted a comment about Roman Polanski’s crimes not impacting his current work. I’m not one of those people who think the director didn’t really commit rape. According to court documents Polanski committed a serious crime and I hope the full weight of the law is used to prosecute him. I also really enjoyed The Pianist. These two things are not mutually exclusive. If the Pianist was exploitative or offensive I would condemn it. But it’s not. And neither is Buju’s later work. I think that’ an incredibly important aspect of this controversy that just has not been given enough consideration. I’m black, and I’ve interviewed a former Klansman who now does great work advocating for racial equality and social justice. Democratic Sen Robert Byrd was a Klan member long before he was elected to the senate. People can do and say awful things early in life and be worthy of redemption and also produce great work that benefits humanity. I can not urge you more strongly to consider Buju Banton’s later music. In 2002 he published In Shiloh, a truly beautiful and spiritual work. I support gay rights, marriage equality and the hate crime legislation. I do not say this lightly. It is a mistake to condemn this man on the basis of that awful, awful song he produced as a teen. Thanks for reading.

      • jasunshine

        The blog ate my earlier comment so one last try. I think it’s important to bear in mind the fact that The Academy is not honoring the music this artist created 15 years ago. They’re honoring what he’s doing now. As a point of
        comparison, Roman Polanski may be an awful human being — when he was
        nominated for an Oscar he wasn’t even allowed in the country to receive it. Nonetheless, the Pianist was an amazing movie and was honored as such. That doesn’t mean what he did decades before is forgotten. And I’m not one of those people who think the director didn’t really commit a crime. He should be held to account for his actions in court. But no matter what happens there, The Pianist, which doesn’t contain offensive
        material, will still be a great movie. These two things can and should
        be judged independently from each other.

        If an artist’s work is exploitative or offensive I condemn it. But
        noone is alleging that Buju Banton’s Grammy-nominated album “Rasta Got Soul” is either of those things. I think that’s an incredibly important aspect of this controversy that just has not been given enough consideration.

        To use another example, I’m black, but I’ve interviewed a former Klansman who now does great work advocating for racial
        equality and social justice. People can do and say awful things early in life and also produce great work that benefits humanity later on. I can not urge you more strongly to consider Buju Banton’s current music. In 2002 he reissued In Shiloh, a truly beautiful and spiritual work. I support gay rights, marriage equality and the hate crime legislation. I do not say this lightly. It is just a mistake to condemn this man on the basis of an awful, contemptible song he produced in 1988 as a teen.

      • Grimm

        But jasunshine, Banton continues to make comments in the press like “there is no end to the war between me and f*gg*t” (as he’s quoted by the Jamaica Observer) even just a few weeks ago. This isn’t just about a song he wrote 15 years ago, it’s about a musician who continues to talk about gays in reprehensible ways whether there happens to be a direct song on his current album or not. To expand on your Polanski comparison, it would be as if Polanski was still making sexual comments about underage girls in interviews just this year. Not that I support Polanski anyway, but in that scenario, I doubt he’d even be given any of the support he has been by the Hollywood community, as there wouldn’t be much, if any, doubt that he hadn’t changed at all. Same goes for Banton; he can sing about “peace and love” all he wants, but if he’s still talking about being at “war” with “f*gg*ts” in interviews, it doesn’t look like he’s changed at all.

    • Jamaican

      The difference being Banton has never harmed a gay person physically and no longer performs that particular song that is 20 years old. Why comment on something you have no idea about?

      • Grimm

        Never harmed a gay person physically? Look up Banton being arrested this decade in Jamaica for gouging out a gay man’s eye. Also, his song “Boom Boom Bye Bye” has been used as something of an anthem for anti-gay murders in Jamaica. Talk about commenting on something YOU have no idea about.

  • Tom… Us?

    All this announcement did was ensure that I’ll be looking up those Buju Banton songs now, if only to satisfy my curiosity. Way to go LA Gay & Lesbian Center. I never would have heard of Buju Banto if you hadn’t just given him some free publicity.

    • Grimm

      So you’re attracted to songs about killing gay people? Yeah, you might also want to stop at the cleaners and pick up your white sheet and hood when you rush out to buy that, bub. And free publicity? He was nominated for a Grammy. A Grammy nom is publicity and one artists can use for a long time to keep getting publicity. Guess that point sailed right over your head.

      • Ben

        No moron, he’s interested in hearing the song to hear first-hand what all the controversy is about. Furthermore, Tom never said that a Grammy nomination isn’t free publicity, he simple asserted the undeniable that issuing a statement and stoking a controversial fire really only exacerbates the situation and brings more attention and probably money to Banton, something the LGBT center probably wouldn’t like to do.

        And seeing as how much you seem to know about the klan garb, perhaps you’re more likely to join than Tom?

      • Grimm

        Well, “Ben,” you might want to read for context. If Tom was simply looking up the song for “curiosity,” then when he heard it if he was repulsed by what he heard, then why would that be a bad thing? Exposing hate is not undesirable– some of the worst crimes in history have been because good people ignored hate until it was too late. But what you’re (deliberately?) missing is that Tom structures his comment like a threat: oh no, you’ve forced me to go listen to Buju Banton’s song about killing gay people. Why would Tom want anyone to worry, unless he’s implying people like him are gonna be somehow supportive of what the song has to say? Otherwise, why does Tom try to make “free publicity” sound so dire, like gay people themselves would be at fault if anything bad were to happen because people went and listened to Banton? That’s how he sets up his message. Wouldn’t hearing Banton’s lyrics and rejecting them be a good thing? Wouldn’t learning about how certain musicians are helping stir up a violent atmosphere toward gays in Jamaica and then getting involved to change that be a good thing? I’d say the GLBT center doesn’t mind good-hearted and good-minded people hearing Banton’s song if the point is education. What they mind is Banton being nominated for an award– an honor, note the difference– by the biggest, most public music award ceremony there is.

  • Jason

    People like Banton will be given respect by the industry as long as he brings in revenue. $$ = respect in the entertainment industry. If the revenue dried up, he would fade from the industry’s view.

  • Jessie

    It’s kind of a double-edged sword for me because although his lyrics are homophobic and hateful, I love dancing to reggae and nothing gets me on the dancefloor faster than Buju Banton.

    • GetAClue

      Then maybe you could find other things to dance to. That is just like saying I feel bad that baby seals are being beaten over the head for their pelts but nothing excites me more than wearing a baby seal jacket. Or – I don’t like that those terrorists hijacked that plane and flew it into the WTC but I believe in their right to express their religious beliefs however they choose. You need to take a stand at some point in your life.

  • Dinyell

    Anthony, I think “a person’s views affect the quality of his music” when those views are explicitly expressed IN the music. It doesn’t sound like the center is upset because a person with a controversial philosophy has been nominated. It sounds like they are upset because his music, which contains explicit references to violence against/hatred for gay people, is receiving positive recognition. Lyrics are a huge part of song quality in most cases, no?

    • cvbell

      Dinyell, that’s a great point. If the lyrics of the nominated album contained references to violence that would be completely offensive and unacceptable. But they don’t. The album in question is Rasta Got Soul and it’s a completely roots and nature oriented album. The violent lyrics were in earlier work. The often quoted song was originally produced in 1988 when he was 15.

      • Dinyell

        Good to know, cv! That clouds the issue for me.

  • NYLA

    Just to give folks a little back story on Buju banton. The song he wrote Boom “Bye Bye” came out in the early 90s and clearly promotes the killing of gay men. The song was considered offensive, especially to Black Gay men, yet it was a huge raggae hit and became one of his most popular. The problem is homophobia is terrible in Jamaica, to the point where gay men are attacked on a regular basis. Many are shot or burned alive just as Buju promotes in his song. Glaad has been going after Buju for about a decade because he refuses to stop performing the song even though it inspires negative behavior.

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