Yes, Busy Signal again. Since getting released from jail in 2012, the aptly named Busy Signal has been making all kinds of moves.

He has dropped collaborations with mainstream pop group No Doubt and with post-dancehall collective Major Laser, and also got reggae fans singing ‘Reggae Music Again’ with his recent throwback tune of the same name. However, nothing has hit the ears of reggae selectors in Aotearoa, quite like this version of a burgeoning Kiwi classic.

With ‘Well Prepared’, Busy takes one of the hottest songs of the minute, Lorde’s ‘Royal’, and gives it a Yard style twist. The original tune was penned by young Kiwi singer Lorde, who gained massive global media attention with accolades and covers appearing from all directions. In fact, Bruce Springsteen even did a cover during his recent NZ concert.

Termed by some as a remix, ‘Well Prepared’ is more of a counteraction. In dancehall music, a counteraction is a tune which uses an existing tune as a starting point to make some type of musical statement. An example of this is Errol Holt and Prince Far I’s version of Dawn Penn’s classic ‘No, No, No’. Holt changed it to ‘Yes Yes Yes’ giving it a positive spin.

In a similar way, Busy takes a big song which comments on class differences, a song written by a seemingly middle-class songwriter, and re-contextualizes it into an epic hustlers anthem. As his bio points out, these are skills learnt as a youth in JA. The bio mentions, ‘When church was over,’ a young Busy would ‘sit on the corner with his friends and flip the devotional lyrics, until his mother’s guiding hand cautioned him for altering the Lord’s songs’… that’s Lord, not Lorde.

As this was a song written by a Kiwi, locals will find an affinity with Busy’s version. As always, Busy is lyrically on target. In his usual cool style, he offers insight into the ghetto mindset and daily grind of the street hustler. The soundtrack is a sparse, finger snapping Turf Musik produced riddim which gives the listener space to absorb the lyrics.

Describing ghetto realities is perhaps what Busy does best and this tune is a great example; ‘A wi a run the whole town, Hustler make the money plenty, Wi and wi friend them just a smoke and a drink nough liquor pon table, Big up yo friends and yo dawgs them near you, Them well prepared.’ After Busy’s perspective, Lorde’s suburban commentary appears fashionably ironic and a little thin.

Somewhat disappointingly, this tune seems to be only available in digital format. Hopefully vinyl fans will be able to get their hands on a 7″ in the future or perhaps find the tune on an LP release.

More info:
Busy Signal on Facebook
Busy Signal on VP Records

Winston Spliff