Throughout the history of the Grammy Awards, there have always been episodes of controversy.
From progressive-rock act Jethro Tull being awarded the metal album award over Metallica in 1989 to the “Soy Bomb” guy — Michael Portnoy — crashing Bob Dylan’s 1998 Grammy performance and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard ambushing Grammy winner Shawn Colvin during her acceptance speech that same year.
Well, this year, GLAAD (the Gay & Lesiban Alliance Against Defamation) has a more serious issue with one of the Best Reggae Album nominees, Buju Banton.
Banton’s “Rasta Got Soul” is up against Gregory Isaacs’ “Brand New Me,” Julian Marley’s “Awake,” Stephen Marley’s “Mind Control — Acoustic,” and Sean Paul’s “Imperial Blaze.”
The issue that GLAAD has with Banton is that Banton has, throughout his career, allegedly promoted violence against gay men.
One of his songs, “Boom, Bye Bye,” says that batty men (a derogatory slang meaning gay men) “have to die” and that he will “shoot batty men in the head” or “burn them up bad.”
GLAAD’s president, Jarrett Barrios sent the Recording Academy (the Grammy organization) this statement:
“It’s outrageous that The Recording Academy has chosen to honor, with a Grammy nomination, someone who proudly and unabashedly performs music that glorifies the violent murder of gay and transgender people. We need to send a strong message to let the Recording Academy and music industry know that promoting artists who advocate such acts feeds a climate of intolerance that can put members of our community at risk for violence.”
The Academy replied saying the awards honor musical achievement “regardless of politics” and “artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast.”
Not satisfied with the reply, GLAAD’s chief executive officer Lorri L. Jean responded:
“Music that promotes the violent murder of LGBT people, or any other group, doesn’t reflect a political or cultural perspective. It reflects hatred and fosters a culture of violence. (Recording Academy president Neil) Portnow needs to use the Grammy telecast to denounce such music, in no uncertain terms, and those who perform it.”
On Sunday, the Grammys will be telecast on CBS/Ch 2 at 7 p.m. It will be interesting to see what happens.