Despite his near sellout of the Trocadero Saturday night, things could have been better for Buju Banton.
The 36-year-old Jamaican roots reggae/dancehall singer and lyricist was once set to follow in Bob Marley's giant steps. By popularizing dancehall with his innovations of lyrics speaking of social consciousness and his use of live instrumentation throughout the '90s, Banton should have been massive.
Before converting to Rastafarianism and righteous thinking, Banton was a lightning rod for controversy.
His most notorious song, "Boom Boom Bye" (released in 1988), dealt savagely with homosexuality and featured graphic lyrics advocating violence against gays. One could call it the ignorance of youth (he was 15), although he was tried and acquitted in Jamaica in 2004 on charges of participating in the beating of several gay men.
Since the song's release, he and his label have continued (including on recent Facebook messages) to claim the song was about "a widely publicized man/boy rape case in Jamaica" and "not a call to violence." Banton never made another track like it and signed 2007's Reggae Compassion Act, which swears its artists to refrain from homophobic statements and songs. Still, L.A.'s Gay and Lesbian Center led protests through Facebook and got Live Nation and AEG to cancel U.S. shows and urged other organizations to protest Banton's shows. In Philly, the Gittings Trust political-action committee led protests and boycotts against the Troc and local promoter Jamaican Dave Productions. There were two protests, one Friday and a small but vocal rally Saturday night outside the Troc.