Step Out
Busy Signal
Greensleeves/Network Records
October 19, 2006

Busy Signal - Step Out Track list
  1. Step Out
  2. Where I'm From
  3. Everybody Busy
  4. That Bad
  5. I Love Yuh (featuring Alaine)
  6. Do The Maths (featuring Bounty Killer)
  7. Badman Place (featuring Mavado)
  8. Bare Tings
  9. Love Me Not? (featuring Reanno Gordon)
  10. Ava Interlude
  11. Mammy
  12. Born And Grow
  13. Guns Fi Dubs Interlude
  14. Full Clip (featuring Mavado)
  15. Relationship Interlude
  16. Since U Been Away (featuring Kris Kelly)
  17. Full A Talk
  18. Not Going Down
  19. Pon Di Pole-hidden track
  • Step Out (bonus video)
  • Born And Grow (bonus video)
  • Not Going Down (bonus video)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
Since he stepped out onto the dancehall scene in early 2003, Busy Signal (born Reanno Gordon) has shown incredible talent and lyrical skill that has taken him swiftly to the forefront of the business.

Busy's breakout single "Step Out" was one of the hottest tunes of 2005 and with the accompanying music video, it signalled the arrival of dancehall's next big thing. So now, riding on the back of numerous hits on big riddims including "Because of You", with Tami Chynn on the 'Throwback Giggy' riddim, "Wuk Gal (Pharmacy)" on the 'Kopa' riddim and "2 Much Gun" on Daseca's well built re-lick of the 'Man Fi Dead' ('Petty Thief') riddim, Busy delivers his solo debut "Step Out".

The album opens in fine style with Busy's self-produced title track "Step Out", a tune that for every dancehall fan should need no introduction (it ran the dancehalls for long enough). On the track "Where I'm From", Busy pays homage to his homeland, the island of Jamaica stating "Where I'm from, the system ah kill wi". This theme continues throughout the album on such tracks as "Born And Grow", which cleverly uses the Jamaican National anthem as its basis and "Badman Place" featuring another man of the moment Movado.

The aspect that makes this album stand out amongst the rest of the new artists emerging of late, is the fact that Busy encompasses everything about life in Jamaica. Busy doesn't just glamourize the gangster life, he also addresses the troubles of living life in such a way; his album is almost one big reality tune, filled with political messages and dramatic outcrys. Busy's songs bring our attention to the lack of services that many take for granted, whether it be education, work or feedom of speech. Busy reveals a more delicate side on songs like "Love Me Not?", where he confronts a cheating girlfriend; and "Mammy", the obligatory ode to one's mother. This more caring side to Busy's persona is even carried over onto one of the many interludes that flood this album in the form of the "Ava Interlude", where he holds a food-based conversation on the phone with his young daughter. As previously mentioned, the interludes - in my opinion, a curse of the MTV Hip-Hop generation - though funny at first, do begin to irritate after extended listening; so the fact that Busy chose to include three here instead of giving us an extra tune, does annoy me somewhat. Hollow interludes such as "Guns Fi Dubs", offer just that; a man wants one of Busy's dubplates but cannot afford to purchase it, so instead trades guns for the tune. However, the "Relationship" interlude does have a little humour to it, as Busy explains about when a woman asked him whether he was ready for a relationship. His reply was "Baby, no, but we could gladly try a relation-boat, or a relation-jet ski, or a relation-raft, or a relation-canoe… Cau’ di ship too BIG! Busy! Soun' di big ting deh!".

Busy Signal also aims a shot at the pop charts when he teams up with Alaine for the sweet as sugarcane "I Love Yuh", a tune that reminds me of UK deejay Glamma Kid's more commercial works; here Busy explains to a certain lady that although he has many female fans, she is the one he truly adores. As well as the lovely Alaine Laughton, other guests include Bounty Killer on the badman "Do The Maths", a strong tune with a military vibe. There are two tunes alongside Movado, the aforementioned "Badman Place" and the wicked "Full Clip", over Craig 'Daseca' Marsh's excellent 'Angrier Management'-riddim. Kris Kelly also guests on "Since U Been Away", a tune with definite crossover potential (due in no small part to the obvious influence of The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Miss U").

A tune I feel deserves special mention must be "That Bad", where Busy chats about "da bad choons dem", naming his inspirations and favourite artists over a riddim that suits Busy's flow perfectly. The album is fleshed out by other fine tunes including "Everybody Busy", "Bare Tings", "Full A Talk" (on which the chorus made me think I had a scratched CD) and "Not Going Down", one of the best versions on the Renaissance Crew's tremendous 'Ice Breaka'-riddim. The album closes with a hidden track, the soca tune Pon Di Pole.

As an added bonus, we are also treated to the entertaining enhanced video clips for "Step Out", "Not Going Down" and "Born And Grow".

Overall, the riddims are of a high standard and Busy's vocal delivery is of equal calibre. Busy covers all bases with his debut, from straight dancehall to crossover pop (possibly even more so than Sean Paul's 2002 "Dutty Rock") and I have a strong feeling that the international market will pay attention when Busy "sounds di big ting", he seems to have the total package; talent (whether deejaying or producing), attitude and personality. If Busy continues in this fashion, he could be the next Jamaican artiste to go mainstream. Despite the fact that it could have done without all the interludes and it is a little sickly sweet in places, this album should definitely be considered by all dancehall (and most pop music) fans.

An outstanding start to Busy's career!