Tag Archives: Busy Signal

A mixed bag from Chino

Most dancehall is released as singles or on one riddim compilations, and it’s been a while since I heard a full length album from a dancehall artist. I believe that Busy Signal’s D.O.B was my latest dancehall acquaintance as a full length album.

And now it’s time for another one, since Daniel “Chino” McGregor’s self titled debut album has hit the streets.

The Busy Signal set and Chino’s new album have one thing in common – both albums wander in several different directions, which is good, and bad.

On Chino, dancehall and one drop is the foundation. But Chino and his producing brother Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor have added R&B, hip-hop beats and some hip-hop rhyming. They also show an unhealthy interest in rock guitars, as in My Soul, Badness and the previously released Never Change (From Mawning).

Chino consists of 15 tunes and contains some real gems. The 90’s dancehall tribute Driving Me Insane featuring sweet voiced Denyque for one. It is heavily and heavenly inspired by the Shabba Ranks & Chevelle Franklyn crossover hit Mr. Loverman released in the early 90’s.

Other highlights include club banger I Am with its French-tinged guitar and accordion, the R&B smooth Mus Come Back and the upbeat one drop Leaving (Seal the Link).

This is a diverse set that offers something for everyone, and I would have been real pleased if those rock guitars would have been left out.


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Essential duets from Alborosie

Last week I praised Sicilian dread Alborosie’s debut as a dub mixing engineer. And now it’s time for another round of applause.

Alborosie, Specialist & Friends is a compilation of 27 Alborosie duets with the crème de la crème of reggae. The duets range from deejays such as Busy Signal and Shabba Ranks to veterans Mykal Rose and Ranking Joe. He has also managed to get Kymani Marley on board on three tracks, two of which are Bob Marley covers.

The riddims range from old school roots to bouncy dancehall. Somewhere in between, Alborosie also adds some nice hip-hop vibes and lovers rock flavor. The broad span impresses a lot since there’s not a weak or dull moment on these two discs. However, Can’t Let You Go, together with Nikki Burt, is a bit weird, since its chorus is very similar to 80’s hit song Take My Breath Away. Alborosie has obviously been watching Top Gun.

A bunch of the tracks are easily available on Alborosie’s three full length albums, for example Money, Mama She Don’t Like You and I Can’t Stand It. But included are also gems like Ganja Dan, a duet with Jah Sun, and Meditation, a combination with Sizzla, tunes that I had never heard before.

This is an essential purchase for any Alborosie fan, reggae aficionado or music lover.


Filed under Record reviews

Busy Signal speaks music fluently

Busy Signal is one of the most versatile dancehall artists ever. Since his debut album Step Out he has tried mashing dancehall with different genres and become an artist not bound by musical styles or traditions. To Reggaemani he reveals his passion for 70’s soul, 80’s pop and comments on his friendship with Bounty Killer.

In July, Busy Signal dropped his third album D.O.B, an abbreviation for Difference of Busy Signal, or “Dominance of Busy Signal”, as he puts it when we chat. This album is certainly his most versatile yet. It includes styles such as electronica, latin, ballads and, of course, dancehall. He paved the way with smoldering singles One More Night and Night Shift, but also Smoke, a tune heavily influenced by Madonna’s 80’s monster hit Like A Prayer.

When I reach Busy Signal he’s in Jamaica outside a studio and has just got back from Guadeloupe. He’s in a great mood and stutters a bit when he gets excited. One topic that gets him going is music. Not any kind of music in particular, just music. Maybe that’s why the new album includes so many styles.

− I love all sorts of music and the new album has been received very well. It’s a fusion of genres, he says.

Sings Rick Astley
And D.O.B certainly is big blend. When I ask him about his choice of covers he reveals his passion for pop and soul.

− I have 27 covers lying around. I haven’t released them because I don’t want to flood the market. I love Here and Now with Luther Vandross or Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, he says and starts singing the chorus, and then continues:

− I use to drive around in my car just listening to 70’s and 80’s music. That’s real music. You got to know your roots.

Beyond dancehall
Busy Signal says that he’s not a dancehall artist. He’s a musician eager to learn new music, and gives an example.

Pon Me with Major Lazer is fresh and new. I want to go beyond dancehall and think outside the box. If you would put all dancehall artists together, I’d differ, he says and gets philosophical:

− Music is a world known language. No one would be illiterate if music was a language.

And he’s not worried that his fans might drop him due to his interest in trying new stuff.

− I think my fans embrace me and what I do, he says and explains:

− When I did These Are the Days I wondered what people might think. But they embraced it.

Always in the studio
Apart from his three albums, Busy Signal has released hundreds of tunes on dozens of rhythms. He seems very productive to say the least.

− I don’t party a lot, he says frankly, and adds:

− I’m always in the studio. I want to do quality work and always try new things. I make music for the middle class, the ghetto people, uptown people, poor people. It’s hard work.

Busy Signal performing live at Uppsala Reggae Festival. Photo by Stefan Gunnarsson/Reggaefoto.se

“Bounty Killer has taught me delivery”
Performing on stage has demanded a great deal of practice. Busy Signal says that he used to be very shy, but that his mentor Bounty Killer has taught him to be more commanding on stage.

− Bounty Killer has taught me delivery, both on record and on stage. You have to sound good on the record, but even better live. He taught me to keep it strong and now I enjoy myself on stage.

Those who have seen Busy Signal live probably agree that Bounty Killer has done a great job in teaching Busy Signal. His performance is energetic and as far from shy as you can get.


Filed under Interviews

Million Vibes moves on with a new reggae mix

Swedish sound Million Vibes unleashes a new reggae and dancehall mix called Moving On containing conscious and lovers one drop as well as some nice dancehall tunes.

Million Vibes certainly knows reggae. Last year they, together with Rough Lynx, did a wicked tribute to Gussie Clarke, one of the best reggae producers ever.

In the new mix, Will Jam, selector of Million Vibes, have brought together some great old and new artists from Jamaica, Europe and U.S. For example Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Queen Ifrica, J Boog and Assassin.

Included are also dubplates from well know artists such as Busy Signal and Gyptian, but also from Swedish sensation Joey Fever, who is soon about to drop his debut album.

Moving On is free for download here.

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Inconsistency from Busy Signal

Busy Signal is one of the biggest dancehall stars of today with several big tunes in recent years. He began to receive attention in 2005 with breakthrough hits like Born and Grow and Step Out. Two years ago he dropped the acclaimed album Loaded, including hits such as Jail, These Are the Days and Unknown Number.

His first two albums were more or less straight up dancehall efforts. Busy Signal’s new album D.O.B (Difference of Busy Signal) takes him in a somewhat new direction. D.O.B is softer and more melodic compared to its predecessors and includes smooth tunes such as covers Sweet Love/Night Shift by the Commodores and One More Night by Phil Collins. Let Peace Reign is a straight ballad where Busy Signal’s vocal is accompanied only by an acoustic guitar.

Busy Signal is certainly not afraid to venture into musical territories that others might stay away from. Picante and Busy Latino offer a Spanish feel and the latter is a blend with Puerto Rican singer Elvis Crespo’s huge 90’s hit Suavemente.

Perhaps Busy Signal should’ve avoided territories such as Latino and ballads too, and put more focus on dancehall. Those cuts are by far the best.

Busy Signal’s distinct and robust baritone voice is at its best on the funky Hi Grade, on a great relick of Winston Riley’s classic Stalag rhythm, or on up-tempo tracks such as How U Bad So and Summin’ A Guh Gwaan, a duet with dancehall icon and mentor Bounty Killer.

Whether you’re a fan of Busy Signal’s new direction or not, it’s easy to be impressed by his tunefulness, versatility and musical skills. This might not be an album for everyone, but you’ve to give him props for trying new things and not limit himself.


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The third day of Uppsala Reggae Festival – several highs and one all-time low

The second day of Uppsala Reggae Festival offered lots of great roots reggae and it was almost a veteran get together. The third and final day was a more mixed bag of artists and range in quality.

Saturday in Uppsala is grey and drizzling. When I walk into the festival area about 6pm, the area is much muddier than the day before. But it is not raining, not yet anyways.

When teen favourite Jah Cure enters the main stage about half an hour late the rain has both started and increased in strength and many people are soaked. But several defy the weather and attend the concert. In particular girls, who are heard loud when Jah Cure sings some of his languorous ballads, which are gladly enough mixed with heavier songs such as King in This Jungle and Sunny Day, a tune that turns into heavy dub excursion. The shrilling cries increases when he starts to undress – from black jacket and white shirt, to a white tank top, to bare chest.

When Alborosie performed at the festival in 2008 he ran into legal complications that led to the song Operation Uppsala. It’s therefore probably no coincidence that he starts off with two songs about drugs – No Cocaine and Herbalist. He of course also plays Operation Uppsala. To get extra strength behind the message, he sings parts of the verses a cappella to great applause. The audience is caught on during the show and if it wasn’t so muddy because of the rain, I would probably have had knees up to my chin during the entire performance.

Busy Signal at Uppsala Reggae Festival 2010. Photo by Stefan Gunnarsson/Reggaefoto.se

Dancehall superstars Busy Signal and Mavado makes one fifty-minute concert each. Busy Signal is up first. He jumps onto stage backed by a lonely dj and tears of a veritable hit song extravaganza with favourites such as Unknown Number and Wine Pon the Edge. Best is Hustlin’ on the heavy Baddaz rhythm. The crowd sings the entire chorus in Hustlin’ as well as in the Commodores cover Night Shift, a song that Busy Signal does not really do justice. He seems to have throat problems and when he sings it doesn’t nearly sound as good as it should. But it certainly doesn’t seem to bother the crowd when he takes off his sunglasses and wiggle his hips.

One that also has problems with his voice is Mavado. He makes a Busy Signal with throat problems sound like Celine Dion. Many had looked forward to see him live, but he did not do any of his hit songs justice. He moves back and forth across the stage and sings randomly to pre-recorded material. He makes less than a minute of each song, which helps the energy. But it hardly helps when both pre-recorded parts and live singing is so false it’s embarrassing.

When I leave the rainy festival area to the sounds of World A Music by Anthony B the bass echoes over the outskirts of Uppsala. This year was the tenth anniversary and hosted a magnificent line-up. Hopefully the festival will live on at least a decade longer and that this is only the beginning of a proud Swedish tradition.


Filed under Columns

Musical wish list for Uppsala Reggae Festival

Uppsala Reggae Festival is the largest reggae festival in the Nordics and this year it’s a 10 year anniversary with some of the biggest artists of all time.

Legendary roots veterans such as the Abyssinians and Bunny Wailer perform along with fresh talents such as dancehall stars Mavado and Busy Signal. There are also plenty of domestic acts, for example Million Stylez, Kalle Baah and Serengeti.

The crew behind the festival has also invited three well-acclaimed sound systems – Meditative Sounds, Channel One Sound and Stone Love.

The festival starts on Thursday August 5th and ends on Saturday August 7th. Reggaemani will cover the festival on Friday and Saturday and will also cooperate with Svenska Reggaebloggen and Reggaefoto.se. Svenska Reggaebloggen is specialized in Swedish reggae and Reggaefoto is a site dedicated to reggae photography.

As a warm up, I’ve compiled ten of my favorite tunes for this year’s festival. It’s a mixture of old and new.

Mavado – Nine Lives
Abyssinians – Satta Massa Gana
Busy Signal – Beep
Million Stylez & Busy Signal – As Mi Forward
Peetah Morgan & Busy Signal – Unfair
Peetah Morgan – Di Government
Alborosie – Rudie Don’t Fear
Jah Cure – Save Yourself
Midnite – Pagan, Pay Gone
Anthony B – Heavy Load

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“Dudus” Coke arrested

Jamaican druglord Christopher “Dudus” Coke has been captured in Jamaica and is now facing extradition to the United States, according to British Telegraph. Reports from Jamaica say that he was on his way to hand himself in when he was detained. Christopher Coke will now be extradited to the United States, where prosecutions are waiting for drug dealing and arms trafficking.

A long and deadly hunt is finally over. At least 73 people were killed during four days of fighting in May when police and soldiers stormed into the Tivoli Gardens in Kingston.

Christopher Coke is in many parts of Kingston seen as a hero and is, according to the Telegraph, hailed by many residents as a Robin Hood figure who offers security and small-time jobs on some of the world’s toughest streets.

Since the riots began in May some Jamaican artists has released pleas for peace, for example Anthony B with the tune Sweet Jamaica and Busy Signal’s Let Peace Reign.

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Busy Signal sjunger för fred

Danchallstjärnan Busy Signal, Sverigeaktuell i sommar, visar en ny sida av sig själv på kommande singeln Let Peace Reign från plattan D.O.B som släpps den 13 juli. Det skriver Jamaica Observer.

Let Peace Reign är en akustisk och personlig vädjan om fred på Jamaica och i andra delar av världen. Låten spelades in för omkring tre månader sedan och är inte knuten till de pågående oroligheterna på ön.

Singeln är producerad av Shane C. Brown och kommer även att finnas på en kommande samlingsplatta med akustiska låtar.

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Mer renodlad reggae från Million Stylez

Sollentunasonen Kenshin Iryo, mer känd som Million Stylez, är tillbaka med nya plattan Everyday, fyra år efter debuten From A Far och världshiten Miss Fatty.

Under de fyra åren som passerat har han inte varit sysslolös. Flera av låtarna på Everyday är kända sedan tidigare, exempelvis titelspåret, ösiga Joey Fever-duetten Young Gunz och blytunga Born In the System.

Everyday är en mer renodlad reggaeplatta än debuten och glättiga singeln Supastar är inte rättvisande för hur resten av skivan låter. Det mesta här är one drop, och ofta riktigt bra sådan.

Jag hade gärna sett att hela plattan var renodlad reggae och dancehall. Det är där Million Stylez är som allra bäst. Crossoverförsöken är tafatta och både Supastar och Lookin’ känns som att de finns på albumet för att blidka skivbolaget.

Om jag fick bestämma skulle brittiske producentgeniet Curtis Lynch haft hand om hela skivan. Det är han som ligger bakom skivans två bästa spår – tidigare nämnda Young Gunz samt Busy Signal-combon As Mi Forward på purfärska rytmen Jam1. Curtis Lynch ligger också bakom Police in Helicopter, som tyvärr inte inkluderats på Everyday.


Filed under Recensioner