A drive to garner financial support for Buju Banton’s legal defence is centred on the sales of the official Free Buju T-shirts now on the market.
Designed by Doyle Crooks , who designed the majority of the merchandise for Buju’s Gargamel line, the T-shirts have a set of numbers on the front which represent Buju’s Prison number and printed in gold on the back is the statement ‘Free Buju’. The number on the front is 86700-004.
“We opted not to use his image on this T-shirt because we felt that would be exposing his image in a way that wouldn’t be appropriate in this particular type of situation,” Banton’s publicist Tracii McGregor told Splash.
“All the proceeds from the sale of the T-shirts will go towards Buju’s legal defence. It’s a way in which fans can show their support. Folks from all over the world have been buying the T-shirts from a couple of stores in New York, in Ohio and in Japan,” she explained.
“We’re not focused on demonstration; we are focusing on building a defence. Our goal is to show who Buju is as an artiste, as a human being and as a humanitarian person….which is why we’re also now dropping the new single, Optimistic Soul, the video for which is now out also,” said McGregor.
Expressing confidence in Buju’s innocence, McGregor promised that all will soon be revealed and that Banton was in good spirits.
“He is doing great, doing a lot of reading and meditation. He is very confident that he is innocent and that he was set up. Buju is no drug dealer,” she said.
The four-time Grammy nominee, whose given name is Mark Anthony Myrie, was arrested on federal drug charges on December 13, 2009, in Miami and has been in custody since.
In the meantime, Banton has grabbed three nominations in the 2010 International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA). The three categories are Recording Artiste Of The Year, Best Album for Rasta Got Soul, Best Crossover Song for hit collaboration with John Legend, Can’t Be My Lover.
In other Buju Banton music news, the one-off single, Time And A Place (John John), on the Coming In From The Cold riddim has reached #1 on both the New York Top 30 Reggae Chart and South Florida Top 25 Reggae Chart. The album Rasta Got Soul is currently #2 on both the New York Top 20 Albums Chart and the South Florida Top 15 Albums Chart. The new Optimistic Soul single (plus bonus instrumental) will be released digitally on March 23.