Selector Scratch Famous of Deadly Dragon Sound System used to be a very smart guy about a whole range of subjects. He could wake up in the morning, write a thesis paper about Walter Benjamin, cook an experimental ‘futurist’ lunch, build a prototype engine for a manned space mission to Mars, translate the Yiddish works of Sholem Aleichem into Hopi, train German draft horses to waltz, prepare a 12 course classical French banquet service after Escoffier, train a bit with his break dancing crew, juggle cats and finally end the evening in deep astral projection based on an intensive study of the Theravada school of Thai Buddhism. Then in the mid-90s he helped to found Deadly Dragon Sound-System and he left behind all foolish things, focusing on the most important thing of all: reggae music.
Where once art, math, languages and science flourished, the names of riddims, nicknames of obscure producers, matrix number of blank records and the like now held sway. And so, Deadly Dragon quickly became a force to be reckoned with in Chicago (where DDS was founded) and then later in New York when Scratch Famous brought Deadly Dragon back to the city of his birth.
From the 90s until now, Deadly Dragon became a sound known for the depth of their musical footing, with Scratch Famous (who cannot scratch and is not famous) and his associates equally at home playing early ska to the newest tunes bubbling up from yard.
Over the past 12 years Deadly Dragon Sound has held down weekly residencies at some of New York’s finest clubs and continue with their weekly party Downtown Top Ranking which has been running strong for over two years.
In addition, Deadly Dragon has brought together a series of live events with such artists and sound systems as Johnny Osbourne, Screechy Dan, Carl Meeks, Tony Tuff, Yami Bolo, Mighty Crown, Down Beat, Ranking Joe, Cornell Campbell, Wayne Smith, Michael Palmer, Stone Love, Chuck Turner, Nardo Ranks, Carlton Livingstone, Shabba Ranks, Major Mackarel and more.
In 2005, Scratch Famous wanted to share his love for the music in a more expansive way (and to get the tens of thousands of records that were driving his wife nuts out of the house) so he and Jason DeBeck aka Selector JD opened the retail side of Deadly Dragon, expanding DDS into, not just a sound-system, but one of the finest resources for reggae fanatics around.
The retail store at 102 Forsyth, in the heart of NY’s Chinatown, is a unique retail environment with a comprehensive selection of new and vintage vinyl from Mento 78s to the newest tunes from Jamaica. Deadly Dragon has also created a limited edition reissue imprint label that has released over 35 different 7″ vinyl singles to great critical acclaim.
Deadly Dragon website
It is near impossible for Scratch Famous to do a Top Ten list but he has tried, so here is the Top Ten random elements of tunes that live in Scratch Famous’ record bag when he goes to play (and which will be totally different when he thinks about it tomorrow!):
TOP BOB MARLEY TUNE – Hurting Inside (Tuff Gong Blank)
TOP SKA TUNE – Baba Brooks – Dreadnaught (Beverly’s Pre-Release)
TOP GUN CHUNE THAT VERGES OF ABSOLUTE POETRY – Jr. Cat – Iron Gloves (Jammys 7″)
TOP DENNIS BROWN TUNE – Perhaps (Studio One 7″)
TOP REGGAE LP – Tenor Saw – Fever
TOP RIDDIM – Take Five
TOP TUNE TO PLAY TO CHANGE TEMPO IN A SET – Tony Tuff – Run Come Come (Scorcher 7″)
TOP TUNE TO MAKE BROOKLYN HEADS BAWL FOR FORWARD – Lui Lepke – Brooklyn Juggling – (Willie Red LP)
TOP DEADLY DRAGON DUB-PLATE CUT – Alton Ellis (r.i.p. to the greatest singer EVER from JA) – Deadly Dragon Cry Tuff
TOP RIDDIM TO PLAY FOR JOHNNY OSBOURNE IN CASE HE DROPS IN AND TOUCHES THE MIC – Version Side to Otis Gayle’s ‘I’ll Be Around’