Jamaica native Busy Signal is best known for two distinct musical styles: frenetic, often heavily auto-tuned hard-core dance hall (“Tic Toc,” “Wine Pon Di Edge”) and sweetly sung covers of ’70s and ’80s radio hits, including Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler” and Phil Collins’s “One More Night.”
His new album, the excellent “Reggae Music Again,” is an attempt to get back to “positive music, conscious music, ya know?” as he puts it on the disc’s intro. He further explains the concept on the title track, holding up his foray into roots reggae — and a return to the classic style of the music in general — as a way of uniting his country: “Remember when, way back then, positivity was the message we send . . . from the root to the stem / It used to be Jamaica, no problem.”
The album is filled with meaningful lyrics and one-drop rhythms, and it was recorded at Tuff Gong studios. It gets no more classic than that. And despite the departure from his usual style, Busy Signal’s dance-hall energy isn’t gone, just channeled differently. It comes through as reverent praise of Jah on “Jah Love” and “Sweetest Life,” and as sharp political commentary on “Modern Day Slavery” and “Run Weh,” a passionate piece that speaks to the disturbing phenomenon of skin bleaching. The rapid-fire delivery that the party-starting DJ has spent years honing is a great fit on the lover’s rock song “Missing You” and the horn-filled “Fireball,” which is a testament to his diversity as an artist and the proof that dance hall and roots reggae have more in common than is often thought.
“Run Weh,” “Fireball,” “Missing You”