Words by Eddie STATS Houghton
If you read Ghetto Palms in the last two years (or went to a reggae dance or looked up ‘bashment’ in the dictionary) you have probably come across an artist named Busy Signal. I would say that he has been owning dancehall lately (Kartel who?) but ever since I talked about his grimy downtempo flow in FADER 56 it seems like he has been on a mission to own every other genre in the music database. In that time he has dropped multiple soca collabos with the likes of Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Faye Ann Lyons, interpolated Phil Collins and the Commodores on his dancehall hooks, released an EPs worth of tributes over Michael Jackson tracks, voiced Baltimore club, samba, weird highlife/afrobeat rhythms and chatted over Kung Fu sound fx and Indian percussion licks so spare that trendy club producers like Douster and SoShifty can’t resist refixing them into rave anthems.
If you haven’t been following this steady stream of hits online, you are actually in luck. This week Busy released his new album D.O.B. on VP Records, collecting an excellent cross-section of these virtual 45s alongside new material. As expected, versatility is highlighted as Busy jumps from the Jamaican afrocentric raver “How Yuh Bad So” to the pop aspirations of “One More Night” and “Night Shift” to the reggaespanol vibes of “Picante” and “Busy Latino”–and even opera. All of which is to say that when we got dude on the phone (kicking up his heels at Manley airport as he waited to board a flight to Guyana) we were less interested in asking the usual Qs and As (FADER already did an able job in that department) and more amped to dip into his broader than broadway musical tastes with a top 10 of his personal favorite non-reggae jams.
As Busy said “I listen to a whole package of music; Latino music, African drums, Pavarotti, old school soca from Sparrow and the Dragonaires…just a portion of music.” But when it came to naming specific artists and titles, Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time” jumped out of his mouth almost before I had done asking the question. The rest may surprise you too.