Buju the Poet

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I think the first song that made me fall in love with Buju was actually love sponge. My step dad would sing that song to my mother and all of us all day.
This one is called lovers choice
Never know yuh woulda really feel so nice, love sponge
I don’t want to let you go
With you I’m in no hurry (oh no)
Lord you are lovable, kissable
Desire the inevitable
Without your sweet caress I’m so damn miserable
Touch your finesse, feel the fur of your coat
Seen you walk away saying my eyes in smoke
You are dressible, lookable
All the man dem after yuh
They claim you do something they just can’t explain
To the brain
Your man shouldn’t have no complain
Oh no
As we saunter ever so lovingly into Poetry history month, I want us to remember that music is poetry set to music. And music is the story of our lives.
So for those of you who don’t know, Buju Banton is a Jamaican dance-hall artist whose music covers both culture, love and bad man tunes. Man, if you’re not adept to Caribbean culture and music, then you have no idea what I mean by culture and bad man tunes. imgres-4.jpg
I dare you to ask your students. Just make sure they’re Caribbean students.
Buju was a mainstay of my childhood and young adult life, singing songs about life on the streets, love in between the sheets and everything in between.
As a dark skinned young girl, when Buju crooned his ode to dark complexioned Black Women, I just knew he was talking to and for me. And I appreciated it. Good luck deciphering the lyrics below if you don’t have a Caribbean tongue. Lol
Wi nuh stop cry fi all Black woman
Big up all de girls dem wid dark complexion
Cause wi nuh stop cry fi all black woman
Whole heepa tings ah gwan fi uno complexion
Black is beauty uno colla is one inna million
Have it from birth ah natural sun tan
Smooth lika grape nuh true uno use uno lotion
Teki teki tek care ah uno complexion
Wah dem ah do? wah dem try? wah di whola dem an plan?
Don’t get mi wrong bcaw mi love Black woman.
When I think of poetry, yes, I think of Maya and Langston and I also think of Bob and Buju. I think about the ways our students grab hold of and connect to the lyrics and the words that tell the story of their lives.
Dictionary.com defines poetry as the following: “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.”
Man, based on that definition, isn’t everything considered poetry then?
I wish Buju’s story was all good and positive. But it isn’t. In 2009, Buju was sentenced to 10 years in Federal prison for drug trafficking charges. And every year or so, we hear that he might be let out early or soon.
I know, like many of his fans, I await his release and the poetry that will spring from his mouth, sharing what it meant to go from the top of the music industry to spending a decade behind bars and then undoubtedly deported from the U.S., never to physically return.
Untold Stories, one of Buju’s more melancholy songs, discusses the plight of the youth, trying to live the best life they can, not knowing how they make it through each day.
While I’m Living
Thanks I’ll Be Giving
To the Most High You know,
I am living while I am living to the father I will pray
Only he knows how we get through everyday
With all the hike in the price
Arm and leg we have to pay
While our leaders play.
When we look at our students and ask them to express themselves, to tell their stories, we have to ensure that we don’t look away, no matter how painful their stories may be. And remember that being the author of our own stories is the highest level of reverence we can pay to our lives.
While Buju may be a gun man and a drug man, he is also a poet and a lover. The song that solidified my unconditional and unflinching love for him was his joyous song from his album ‘Til Shiloh, Wanna be Loved.
Wanna be loved
Not for who you think I am
Nor what you want me to be
Could you love me for me?
Real love, with no strings attached
I wanna give you me heart
Don’t want to take it back
This is my chat-cho
Been searching for a long long time
For that oh-so-true love
To comfort this heart of mine
No pretense stop wasting my time
A virtuous woman is really hard to find
I’m telling you lady
I’m only human, not looking for impossibility
Just a genuine woman with sincerity
Someone who is always near to hold me
Show me you care, up front and boldly
Don’t shun my feelings, all the positive meanings
Love me morning, noon all seasons.
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So on this 4th day of Poetry History month, I encourage you to broaden your definition of poetry and use lyrics as text. And if you’re feeling a little brave, take a musical journey to the island of Jamaica. Turn on a Buju Banton station on your Pandora or Spotify and allow you and your students to see life from a different point of view.
Posted in Black Brilliance, Black Literature, Black Resistance, Music as text, Woke Lit.

3 Comments

  1. I think you’ve listed all my favorite Buju songs except “Circumstances”…Ohw, and I can’t forget “Not an easy road”…lol…Great blog…:-)

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