Money 4 Nothing

Dub Economics: The Life and Times of Lee “Scratch” Perry

September 4, 2021

When Lee "Scratch" Perry left this world on August 29th, we lost a towering figure of 20th century culture as a producer, singer, and trailblazer who spent decades at the forefront of Jamaican music. And while there has been a wave of articles celebrating the legacy of "The Upsetter," Saxon and Sam thought there had been far too little examination of the economic, political, social, religious and cultural background that structured his career, shaped his genius and cultivated his eccentric persona. Just how did Perry go from being born in a poverty-stricken rural part of Jamaica and raised on lasting Yoruba traditions in a post-slavery, heavily-colonized island to becoming a major player in the rise of reggae, Bob Marley, dub and the Jamaican music industry? Along the way they also discuss Jamaican political violence caught in a cold-war struggle, the neocolonial character of a predatory western music industry, Rastafarian politics, the cottage music scene of Kingston, the anti-colonial resonances of Perry’s lyrical style and how the man was to eventually capitalized on the heavily-commodified global reggae market we know today. Come for the legend of Black Ark--stay for Mr. Brown and his coffin. 


Further Reading:

"People Funny Boy" by David Katz


Further listening:

33 Hour Lee "Scratch" Perry Playlist

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