Jailed Reggae Grammy Award winner, Buju Banton regains freedom

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After seven years of incarceration in a United States prison for drug related offence, Jamaican born reggae dance hall superstar, Mark Anthony Myrie, popularly known as Buju Banton, has been released from a federal prison in Georgia.

The federal Bureau of Prisons updated its inmate locator to indicate that Banton was released Friday from the McRae Correctional Facility in Georgia.

The artiste who won the coveted Grammy award on his way to prison, was convicted of federal drug charges in February 2011 for illegal possession of a firearm and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.

He was sentenced to 10 years, a prison term his attorneys appealed to be reduced a year later, citing his “limited participation” in the drug operation that led to his December 2009 bust.

Banton, an international reggae artiste is considered as a legend, trailing the legendary Bob Marley in fame and acclaim. Buju as he’s fondly dubbed, became sought after all over the world leading to his music collabo with international US artistes such as Busta Rhymes and Fat Joe.

Shortly after his release, rap icon P. Diddy had this to say on his Instagram. “Today is a glorious day. Buju is free. Let’s go!”

The Jamaica newspaper, Observer, reported that Buju returned home over the weekend, where crowds of fans stormed the airport to await his arrival. His friend and manager told the paper that Banton decided not to use the regular airport exit because he did not want to be mobbed.

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“He felt the crowd was too big, and Buju had already been harassed by the dozens of passengers who traveled home with him … by taking pictures and videoing him, and asking questions on his way back home,” Donovan Germain said.

The musician went to the studio from the airport, and is looking forward to performing early next year, he added.

In 2011, the reggae maestro who has tons of lyrics to his credit, won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for his album “Before The Dawn” on Gargamel Music Inc. Before that win, several of his monster hit albums had received nomination for the Grammy, including “Inna Heights” in 1999, “Friends for Life” in 2004 and “Too Bad” in 2007.

Meanwhile, the well-loved reggae super star reunited with his family shortly after touch down in Jamaica. He fell into the warm embrace of his teenage daughter, Abihail Myrie who was 11 years old in 2011, during Buju’s sentencing by a US federal court in Florida.

The judge heard a heartfelt request for leniency from the reggae icon’s then 11-year-old daughter, Abihail who told the judge; “I can’t imagine a life without my father. I would really appreciate if you would give him a second chance” she wrote back then.

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Following the release of her dad two days ago, Abihail who is now a teenager shared the heartwarming moment they re-united in a social media post which she captioned, “I’ve imagined what this moment would be like, replaying it over and over again in my head but now I can stop imagining because that moment is finally here. It’s so real and I can’t even find the words to express how I feel.

“I missed you so much I’m so happy to finally have you here. My heart is so full. How’d you make an exact replica of yourself though?? TWINNING!” Abihail wrote.

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