Dancehall reggae star Buju Banton is temporarily free and headed home to Miami while awaiting a retrial for federal drug charges in Tampa. He was originally imprisoned without bail last December, following his arrest for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine. His case was declared a mistrial in September, when the jury could not decide on a verdict, and he became eligible for bail while he awaits a retrial this coming February.
Unable to post the bond himself, Banton received help from a fellow reggae star: Stephen Marley, son of Jamaican music royalty Bob Marley, who posted equity in his own home as bond — $300,000 worth. Marley is counting on Banton to not flee, but chances are slim: the Associated Press reports that before he was released, Banton agreed to wear an electronic monitoring device, sign an extradition waver and hire a private security team — at his own expense — to ensure that he doesn’t try to run away or seek asylum in his Jamaican homeland.
Banton first rose to fame in the 1990s when he became the international face of a style of reggae known as dancehall. Following his initial rise, he made several crossover efforts, most notably with the punk-rock group Rancid, and had several ventures into hip-hop and R&B territory in an attempt to expand his audience. However, he encountered a damaging backlash when several of his lyrics appeared to support violence against gay men.