Legendary Reggae producer and singer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was a big fan of Dancehall rivals Vybz Kartel and Alkaline. In fact, the Upsetta adored the Worl’ and Vendetta Bosses and held their musical skills in such high regard, that he made it no secret that Alkaline was his Top Prize, even as he declared Kartel the “greatest deejay out of Jamaica”.
Scratch died on Sunday at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover the parish of his birth, six months after returning to his home in Negril, to escape the cold of Switzerland where he resided with his wife and children. He was 85 years old.
In 2016—after Alkaline’s debut album New Level Unlocked became the first Dancehall album to top the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in five years—Perry had celebrated on social media, hailing the youngster as one of Jamaica’s greats. In the post, Lee had also condemned the tendency of Dancehall fans to be having squabbles about whether Vybz Kartel or Alkaline was the better deejay.
“I wish Jamaican rude boys wouldn’t be such hypocrites and stop the foolishness fighting over Alka and Kartel! If you love Kartel you don’t have to hate Alkaline. You don’t need to compare Alka to Kartel, just give credit where it’s due!” Lee had emphasized.
Lee pointed out then that he had long recognized that Alkaline was gifted, was a hitmaker, and, like Vybz Kartel, was one of Dancehall’s most brilliant stars. He then expressed his love, and poured blessings on the Vendetta Boss like a Godfather.
“I recognize a special talent with a star potential when I see it! Alka is putting such a serious work in his music and his talent is indisputable!!!” Scratch wrote. “Alkaline my angel, I bless you with perfect love, strength and creativity for you to grow stronger and stronger and continue putting serious effort in your music making us super hits!”
“Congratulation for the Billboard chart! Lee Scratch Perry loves you,” he added.
So impressed was Lee with Alkaline that he would show up at concerts where the Champion Boy was performing to watch the youngster, from as far back as 2014 when the Ardenne High school old boy was a mere 21-year-old.
In an interview in 2014, Alkaline, who was in the inception stages of a collab with the Upsetta, had pointed out the relationship between Scratch and himself had materialized after his management team found out that Scratch had said in an interview that he respected his music. “If personally, it is recently… he has visited me at many of my shows to see how mi work, gave me advice and wi jus hol a vibes and a so come di relationship came about,” Alkaline had explained.
When asked by the interviewer about the feel and sound of the impending track, Alkaline had kept it under wraps. “You haffi listen out fi it enuh. Yuh haffi listen out fi dah one deh. But, is a different vibe. Just think of the type of artiste that Lee Scratch Perry is and the type of artiste that I am,” he had said.
In August that year, Lee also posted a photo of himself on stage with Alkaline, during the superstar’s performance at the Kanzeli Club in Zurich, Switzerland that June.
Lee and Alkaline in Kanzlei in Zürich, June 2014 pic.twitter.com/BdtoDRhLKB
— Lee Scratch Perry (@ScratchLee) August 10, 2014
Kartel Pays Tribute to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
On Sunday, Vybz Kartel paid tribute to Scratch in a video post, which began with a photo of himself smiling, as he hugged the Chicken Scratch artist at a venue in Europe. The rest of the video showcased Scratch’s iconic musical exploits over the decades.
“Back stage in Switzerland with the Legend. Man mek me laugh till me weak!! “See you in the moon” King,” Kartel wrote, referencing a line from a birthday song Lee had sang for him in 2019 on his birthday.
Lee’s love and respect for Kartel and his art, became apparent to the world in October 2016, when the Grammy award-winning record producer declared that “Vybz Kartel is the best deejay of all time”.
In a video which he uploaded to Facebook and Instagram, the Small Axe producer who honed Bob Marley’s singing skills, said he was hoping that the Dumper Truck singer would be released from prison and be given the chance to repent.
“Hello to you, Kartel, Jamaica’s best deejay ever on the Reggae scene and Dancehall scene. This is Lee Scratch saying to you Kartel, I know you are not feeling nice and I know you are not feeling good where you are, but we are praying that you can come out one of these times and change your ways and repent so that you can have another chance because you were one of the best deejays to ever come out of Jamaica. So, love, Kartel from Lee Scratch Perry,” Scratch had said.
In March this year, Scratch, who has kept abreast of the music of contemporary Reggae and Dancehall artists, had also hailed Mavado, Bounty Killer, Busy Signal, Popcaan, and Chronixx as among the acts who have set a high standard for the rest of the younger generation to follow.
The Grammy award-winning icon had the distinction of producing more than 1000 recordings during his 60-year career. Hailed as one of the most prolific producers and studio geniuses that ever lived, Perry had announced in December, that he would be returning to his beloved Jamaica to establish an off-the-grid community, to enable him to get away from what he had described as “this Babylon Madness”.
Perry returned to Jamaica in January where he spent his final months frolicking on the beach at Point Village in Negril, basking in the sunshine and doing his rounds in a studio he said he had discovered in Green Island.