“Introducing Myself” by Lee Scratch Perry
Lee Perry, born Rainford, sometimes shits in champagne bottles and hides them in the cupboards when he’s feeling the house has gotten too orderly. Other times he walks into the local cathedral with a giant snowball on his head. When the man introduced himself to me, via vinyl I’d picked up on a trip through Amsterdam, I had no idea what to thank him for. “Scratch” pretty much invented reggae and dub, was one of the first to use sampling, one of the earliest to rhyme over a beat, and has been lauded and lashed as madman, thief, and genius. Sometime in the 1980s, he took a stab at defining what he is. The result is a beautiful joke on the whole notion of self. Lee Perry had just killed what he loved – burned his famous Black Ark studio to the ground – to cleanse his life. “Introducing Myself” shifts and crackles like a burning building. Rooms of fire. Phrases, refrains, fragments – these tumble by, space debris. The righteous troubadour tells his history how he hallucinates it. He was sent by fire, he chants. He came, he saw, he heard, he made. He has an electric calling. Keith Richards called him the Dalí of music. But like any great artist, Perry needs no one else’s introduction. He is his own.
Jesse Nathan lives in northern California and writes poetry. His chapbook CLOUD 9, is forthcoming from Dikembe.
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