The “Upsetter,” the “Madman,” the “Mad Genius,” the “Father of Dub”: these are some of the names that have been used to describe Lee “Scratch” Perry. “Witty,” “amusing,” “consistent”: these are some of the words that describe Humanicity, Scratch’s latest album with Easy Riddim Maker (“ERM”). French producer, engineer, and musician, ERM teamed up with idol Scratch on Humanicity to crank out a dub-heavy compilation reggae fans will be talking about for some time to come.
Humanicity starts off with a few veritable verbal jabs at dancehall artist, Popcaan. Scratch’s tone on the first track, Capricorn, however, resembles more of a father putting his son in his place more than it resembles a typical “diss track.” Scratch almost playfully says, “Popcaan… I was poppin’ before you born.” Once you get through the ambiguous diss track, though, the album jumps right into the Scratch we all know and love.
Toward the middle of the album, the beats and rhythm patterns stay soothingly consistent with remnants of a few dubs made tremendously popular by the Madman himself. The one-drop style riddims keep your head rocking without paying much attention to Scratch’s, at times, random and grainy lyrics. But if you know Scratch, you know this is his style… and it works perfectly for his eccentric persona.
Although, Scratch keeps his lyrics fairly conscious and relatable throughout, there are some points in the album when his lyrical “genius” teeters on the line of “what did he just say?” For example, on In the Bathroom, Scratch proudly announces that he is “…number one in the bathroom,” that he “cooks in the bathroom,” as well as in the “head room,” and that he “hooks his victims in the bathroom.” Whatever that means, I guess.
If you think that’s great, on Shuffle, Scratch uses the last 20 seconds to provide a memorable a cappella where he runs down a colorful list of, um, “activities” (yeah, let’s call them “activities”) that he would make someone do with their bodily excrements. There is no need to get into the gory details since you are going to listen to the album and hear for yourself, right? Right!
All in all, Humanicity is a great album if you like Scratch Perry… and a pretty good album if you like music, in general. It is an album to which you must listen from start to finish in order to appreciate fully what ERM and Scratch are doing.
Favorite song: Diplomat, Aristocrat
Favorite line: “I am allergic to death… I am allergic to sickness… I am addicted to fitness… I
am addicted to health.” –on Rastafari (speaks volumes for the 76-year-old’s longevity in both
life and reggae)
Inity Weekly Rating: 8.5 out of 10
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