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Reggae Mecca: Deadly Dragon Sounds on Forsyth Street
Deadly Dragon Sounds (“DDS”) is the Lower East Side’s best kept secret for all reggae-heads, rude gyals and bois (bwoys). No sign out front, but a plethora of posters for roots reggae adorn the window of this tiny storefront in a gorgeous well-kept tenement building on Forsyth Street, between Broome and Grand.
Inside 102 Forsyth is reggae Mecca.
Crates on crates on crates of vinyl records amidst little ras keepsakes including a Bob Marley bobble head. T-shirts and DVDs for sale, a turntable, books, and flyers in the front that advertise this incredible store’s weekly party at Happy Ending - “Downtown Top Ranking, Reggae Revive Session.”
Every Thursday, Deadly Dragon Sounds presents “rocksteady roots and rub-a-dub in strictly vinyl sound” a.k.a heaven for all dub and dancehall heads. A passa passa in NYC.
Reggae lovers, Chinese Jamaicans, West Indians, Rastafarians, and Jewstafari from all over the city come here for the gold standard in reggae and dancehall. From Free Buju shirts to Assassin autographed pictures, the walls are lined with reggae and ras culture. His Majesty King Haile Selassie’s picture hangs next to a pair of miniature boxing gloves bedecked in the Jamaican flag. DJs, Selectors and other music lovers purchase in-store and online and have been doing so since Deadly Dragon opened in 2005.
From their website:
In 2005, Jeremy Freeman aka Scratch Famous and Jason DeBeck aka Selector JD opened the retail side of Deadly Dragon, expanding it 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 pf 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.
Admittedly out of place in Chinatown, store owner Jeremy Freeman is considered the unofficial block boss, as his Chinese neighbors visit frequently for help translating bills and other documents. DDS’s name surprisingly was chosen for the crew’s love of ninja movies, and not for their downtown location.
Freeman spoke with us about his own family roots in the neighborhood. His Russian-born grandmother lived on Hester Street and he and his crew intend on staying put for a very long time with their merch shop at 102-B and their office in the old Comic Network next door. He recalls prostitutes and crackheads in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park or yore, while today we see soccer players and children galavanting. A changed Lower East Side for sure, but Deadly Dragon Sounds is a most welcome and unique shop.