PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Busy Signal: D.O.B.

By utilizing his unique vocal dexterity to traverse a variety of musical genres, Busy's Signal's D.O.B. is strong argument for his unique talent for aligning word, power, and sound.


Busy Signal

D.O.B.

Label: VP
US Release Date: 2010-07-13
UK Release Date: 2010-07-12
Label website
Amazon
iTunes

Few dancehall records this year will sound like Busy Signal’s D.O.B., released July 13th on VP Records. With most Jamaican dancehall deejays content riding hot riddims and singles as well as relentless touring, dancehall albums are often retrospectives of an artist’s tireless yearly output, stitched together with little conceptual framework or structure. This formula may seem familiar; rap music in the US has recently functioned with a similar business plan, churning out mixtapes, rapping over Top 40 instrumentals like dancehall deejays ride riddims. Rap albums more than dancehall records have attempted work within a conceptual framework, though the use of familiar rap tropes like girls, money, and cars often result in the most commercial success for practitioners of the form.

Up until recently, the same couldn’t be truer with the breakout dancehall success stories in the US and in Jamaica. Sean Paul didn’t get to where he did by chatting about codes of Rastafari conduct or the importance of education for children, common themes in roots reggae and dancehall alike. Instead, he made club-ready singles that could be played next to the commercial success of rap and R&B. Perhaps taking cues from such crossover success stories like Sean Paul, Buju Banton, or Beenie Man -- artists who were willing to recycle US pop subject matter into their music -- other Jamaican dancehall performers began to follow suit. Consciousness, spiritual subjects, and proclamations for peace began to recede from dancehall lyrics and girls, gun-chat, and violence took precedence.

These tensions between reggae’s embrace of politics and morality and a spirit of transgression come to a remarkable head in Busy Signal’s latest album, most if it achieved through an unusually varied sound palette and a comprehensive tour through reggae and dancehall’s vast array of themes. Known for his association with Bounty Killer’s crew of deejays called the Alliance, gun play, girls, and gangster thematics have been central to defining their aesthetic and popularity, Busy included. On Busy Signal’s latest record, gun-chat and gang-talk in “Nuh Fraid” seems at odds with songs like “Peace Reign” and “Nuh Boy Caan Buy Wi Out”, while a diverse sound palette underscores an itch for innovation that haunts the record.

By utilizing his unique vocal dexterity to traverse a variety of musical genres, the result is a fitting compliment to Busy’s talent for hooks and vocal inflection. On “Busy Latino”, Busy Signal uses dancehall’s common double-time lyrical delivery to keep pace with a sultry salsa production, complete with slinky piano and celebratory horns. Busy sounds so at home over the rhythm, he chose a subdued reggaeton beat on “Picante”, making a convincing argument for an entire album of Latin flavors with Busy’s fast-chats.

The album’s production even makes a subtle stop at West African pop, where producer Stephen “Di Genius” McCregor creates an infectious swirl of complex percussion and sneaks an Afro-pop sample at the song’s beginning. Other successful pairings include an entirely beat-less track called “Opera” where an Auto-Tuned Busy compliments a mixture violins and cellos with a blazing fast vocal delivery and complex rhyming scheme that could pass as spoken word poetry.

Letdowns come when Busy does uninspired love songs that only seem there to fill a quotient. But apart from minor hiccups, D.O.B. is, on the whole, full of strong, risky songs that prove Busy Signal is one of Jamaica’s most visionary artists and is at his best when word, power, and sound come together to re-create what’s best about reggae’s global impact against a backdrop of global sounds.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.