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  • Filed under: Review
  • 09/21/2010

Busy Signal D.O.B.

On D.O.B., his third full-length release, Jamaican dancehall sensation Busy Signal shows no signs of slowing the momentum that has made the Saint Ann's native and Alliance member one of the genre's leading proponents. Busy's known for his seemingly endless energy, and the mix of his tireless lyrical exhortations with frenetic, hot-stock riddims makes for a kinetic listening experience. The kick-off track, "How U Bad So," sets an appropriately hectic tone, cruising along at a breakneck tempo, with offsetting percussive flurries, tons of bass, oscillating synth lines, pimp-slap handclaps, builds, breaks, and even a whistle. Basically, everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in—yet somehow, it's not over the top, at least not by dancehall standards.

Busy's mic persona is brash, swagger-heavy, and authentically Jamaican. He bigs up the ladies, ghetto youths, high-grade marijuana, his bank account, and the gossip talk at the "Hair Dresser Shop." He updates The Commodores, Phil Collins, and the Stalag 17 riddim. His stylistic versatility shines on "Busy Latino," a brassy, jazzy tune complete with en español backing vocals.

But the album's best—and most original—song is "Opera," a sparse, minimal track consisting of nothing but strings, Auto-Tuned arpeggios, and a relentless cadence. Stripped bare of the multilayered bashment riddims, Busy's lyrical skills are undeniable. It would have been nice had D.O.B. taken even more experimental chances, which could have elevated the album above its somewhat predictable adherence to dancehall conventions. Then again, in dancehall, artistry has always been secondary to making butts shake to earth-rattling grooves.

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