Parlour Q+A: Busy Signal, Leader of the Pack

The first time I heard Busy Signal‘s “Tic Toc” set to a mash-up of deep house and hipster hop with a tinge of old school Miami freestyle beats (courtesy of producer Sean “SSMG”Scott), I lost my shit. Busy’s throaty vocals commanding me to “wine up, show me what you have in you” and the signature “Hey-hey!” over a dancehall beat alongside a high-pitched woman chanting “tic tic tic tic toc, toc toc toc toc tic” had me jumping up and down in my living room. I thought, ‘If this is where dancehall is going, I’m quitting my job, packing up my belongings and going along for the ride.’

I chatted with Busy for Parlour about dancehall’s new era and why his music is so fresh, peep what the young MC had to say about the state of Jamaica and why he can’t leave the ladies alone.

Dancehall is not unique in creating a cauldron of varied sounds. The term ‘anything goes’ reigns supreme these days across musical genres. However, the music’s advantage has always been the ability to play the field while still maintaining the key elements of di dance, allowing it to evolve without the need to re-establish itself. But if ever we could spot a new age of dancehall, the time would be now. The beats and vocals are faster, the lyrics are much darker, often depicting the kind of strife we would rather associate with New York City’s youth than Kingston’s, and the sex addled calls and gun talk of mega stars like Beenie Man and Bounty Killer have been replaced by Munga’s thug love and Mavado’s gangster ballads.

Every movement seeks a leader, and it seems with Busy Signal’s sophomore album Loaded, released September 23 on VP records and chock full of fresh beats and lyrical inventiveness (see “Knocking at Your Door,” “These are the Days” and “Hustle Hard”), the people have chosen wisely.

Parlour: Congratulations on your MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) award nomination for best new reggae artist. Why do you think your receiving recognition now?
Busy Signal: This album is more mature [than Step Out]. It shows growth and I always try to do better.

This album has so many different sounds, what was your thought process?
It’s got something you can always nod your head to, that’s why we call it Loaded. I’m not one of the artists that like to keep repeating myself. I want to say something that I’ve never said before, that no one’s ever said before.

What song on Loaded do you feel closest to?
Probably “These Are The Days” because it [depicts] what’s happening now in the world, and also what’s happening before me and what’s going to happen after me. I try to keep [the songs] real deep, but simple enough that people could relate to them.

The dancehall music coming out of Jamaica is so different from when we were kids, why?
We’re talking about something new and the older artists are not. They’ve been out there for awhile and of course we’re still watching them. But we represent the new era and the young people that’s listening have a right to choose. We just deliver the music.

The beats are different now too with the influx of really young producers.¦
They speed it up a lot, but they keep it so that it has that classic feel.

What’s do you see as the current state in Jamaica?
In Jamaica, a lot of youths can’t get no jobs and that there breed violence. The people that got jobs, even they still crying and can’t really save and constantly got to be stretching.

What do you think of the recent re-election of Portia Simpson-Miller to leader of the opposition (PNP)?
People really happy for her. We need the change. Jamaica needs better schools and jobs and things like that but most of all we need the right leaders to put those things into play.

Listening to Loaded, there are a lot of songs about getting down with the ladies. Let’s talk about that.
I can’t leave the ladies out because they always keep thing live you know. Whenever I walk out at the shows, they show so much love, I have to make song weh dem can have pon dem ring tone; weh dem can wine to. I just love ladies. I like dem dancin’, I like dem winin’, I like listening to them talk, listening to them curse.

Can we get a special shout out to the ladies around the world that read Parlour?
Big up to all the girls around the world. Busy love unnuh. Busy love the whole a dem. Stay focused because woman got power. I’ll never leave them out.


Make sure you read the rest of Parlour’s exclusive interviews: Common, Usher, Solange and Estelle.


Check out the video for “Tic Toc”


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