The Turf President’s Historic Set Got Cut Short at Groovin in the Park—We Spoke With Him Right Afterwards

Yesterday Busy Signal made history by performing his first ever show in the U.S.A. at this year’s Groovin In The Park festival. But re-writing history is not always an easy road—sometimes there are a few potholes along the way. On this day one of the most dreamed-about days of Busy’s life turned out to be a somewhat bittersweet reality. Bolting onto the stage Busy opened with his breakout track, “Step Out.” Bouncing around the stage like a ball of energy, he segued into “Nah Go Jail Again” before transitioning into a moment of thanksgiving as Buju Banton’s voice rang out in the park “Oh our Father, Who Art In Zion…” while Busy counted his blessings for being given the opportunity to perform for his American fans. “A foreign mi deh,” he said with pride. “Big foreign!” This was the moment he had been waiting for all his life—a moment that over 30,000 people spent their money to witness, some traveling in from all over the world. His fans wanted to witness the moment when Busy’s incredible journey—building his career for over 12 years, being released from prison, getting his visa back, getting an approved work permit—came to fulfillment. “You are looking at a walking miracle,” he told the audience, almost in disbelief. But just when it seemed things couldn’t get any better, they took a sudden turn for the worse.  Video and Full Story After The Jump…

Soon after Busy began easing into his full set—with the crowd waving their hands in the air as he transitioned from “Come Over” to “Jamaica Love,”  filling the park with thousands of waving flags—his set came to an abrupt standstill. It took a minute for him to even realise what was going on.

“Is this fair!?!” Busy exclaimed when his mic was cut off in front of one of the largest audiences Roy Wilkins Park has ever seen. Apparently he had been informed that he would have to get off the stage early because the day—which included sets from Tarrus Riley, his special guest Estelle, Freddie McGregor, Ken Boothe, Leroy Sibbles, and U Roy, many of whom were presented with special commendations from various dignitaries onstage—was running behind schedule. The police force insisted it was time for the next act, R. Kelly to take the stage. Such time limitations are a reality of putting on a stage show in a large outdoor venue. But this transition was not well handled.

“Right now mi hungry to perform,” Busy explained to the audience. And then, just as he launched into his next song, his microphone and his backing band were abruptly unplugged. Neither the artist nor the crowd could believe their eyes or their ears. Busy stood still as statue, frozen in disbelief as a chorus of boos filled the air. The whole thing seemed unreal until the promoter hurriedly came on stage and then, before you knew it, Busy signal was handing over his mic and leaving the stage.

“We promise to make this up to you” said the MC who took his best to explain to an unhappy crowd that they were running out of time. Although the master of ceremonies tried to explain that the police force had demanded that they get their last act up, the crowd seemed to care zero for his explanations. “Busy! Busy! Busy!” they chanted as some made their exit from the venue in a state of sheer disappointment. After arriving early and waiting hours longer than his contracted time to touch the stage Busy and his team departed the venue as well.

Despite a what seemed long band change the crowd had not cooled off yet and R Kelly was met with a few boos. Unable to win the crowd over, the R&B superstar was forced to stop his set and address the issue: “I have nothing to do with goes 1st, 2nd or 3rd,” said R. Kelly. “To give you all music for 30 years is a blessing and I love y’all so much whether you support it or not.”

It wasn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened at a reggae & dancehall show, but as the industry evolves with Jamaican music being at the forefront of cutting-edge pop culture, real dancehall fans want to know why this type of mishandling continues to go on. Boomshots has reached out to Groovin In The Park promoters, who will soon issue a statement.

The Master of Ceremonies explained that the promoter had been forced to cut the set short because police were enforcing a strict curfew. But Busy has not told his side of the story until now.

Accompanied by his attorney, Andrew Crumbie of Crumbie Law Group Busy sat down with Boomshots for an exclusive interview after the show.

“It’s too bad that the timing was so poorly managed,” said Mr. Crumbie. “I’m sure that we’ll do an autopsy Because the losers in this, unfortunately, are the thousands of people that were left without seeing this man perform his entire [set]… He was here in the country two weeks ago preparing for today. And so to have that hour that he was supposed to perform condensed into the 15 or 20 minutes that he was able to display his craft, is shameful. And I feel bad for the folks that didn’t get what they bargained for. He doesn’t want to leave the stage and have the people think that he came and collected his money and left, cause that’s not what happened.”

“I have a contract to says my set starts at 5pm and I didn’t get on until 7,” Busy told Boomshots. “It’s not an easy thing to keep yourself composed in a situation like that.” As Busy would put it here’s the rest of the “Facts:

Despite the disappointment Busy made it clear that this show was just the beginning to the next chapter of his life. “I just want to perform” he said. “The Turf President is open for business!!!