Cherry Pie / Photo by Brandon Soderberg / Courtesy Democracy In Crisis

A mix of Grandaddy Purple (a knock-you-out strain, previously reviewed here) and Durban Poison (the nervy, edgy, uppity strain that you probably already know), Cherry Pie’s lengthy, hypnagogic high has you half asleep and then wide awake but still somewhere else. The mind meanders on this stuff, in part because the high comes on fast and strong and sticks around for hours, but also because it’s a drowsy sort of stoned that doesn’t turn you dull, just dissociated — like a brain in a jar, all thoughts, no sensation.

The way this all works, the way you can feel the two kinds of weed that make up Cherry Pie interacting, is important. Low-key, I have been on a modest little quest to ground cannabis criticism in something tangible without reducing it to tedious #actually-ing which has led, as I’ve said before, to lots of hot take pot writing. (“Whatever it is you think you know about cannabis is bullshit, man,” declares an edgelord on the internet somewhere at least a few times a year.) And here, without knowing about terpenes or cannabinoids or whatever, you can clearly feel how these strains converse and argue and cede power to one another. Its effects are clear and so are what strains-within-the-strain are causing those effects.

And yes, it has taken me this long to review cannabis and mention reggae, which is fairly un-obsequious for a white boy like me, I must pat myself on the back and say, but here we go: The confluence of smoking Cherry Pie, and avant-dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry having just toured the country performing a kind of hybrid strain of his 1976 classic album, “Super Ape” — and the closed-circuit, lab-grown reggae sway of Subatomic Sound System that by all accounts did not suck — makes the Cherry Pie/reggae connection worth exploring.

Namely, Cherry Pie’s high (a wild and woolly back-and-forth between two different sorts of zone-outs, HD-clear to cloudy, uncomfortably close to far, job-interview cogent to fully faded, and back again) very much echoes the effects of Perry’s darkened, dub reggae style. Perry would take a previously recorded, relatively conventional reggae song, pull pieces of the original out, rearrange the pieces, remove some altogether, turn vocals and hooks into afterthoughts, and add sound effects often in impulsive real-time, reconstructing a conventional song into an erased and redrawn version of itself. Just one great example: ‘Dub the Rhythm’ off 1975’s “Revolution Dub” where Scratch takes Clancy Eccles’ 1968 ‘Feel the Rhythm’ and turns it translucent, a bumping smeary groove that Scratch, instead of singing over, burps, coughs and almost hacks a lung up, all set to the music.

One moment the song’s loping along pleasantly and the next, it disrupts, totally screwing with your head, in a good way. The same can be said of Cherry Pie.

  • Strength: 9
  • Nose: Organic hard candy with a hint of vomit 
  • Euphoria: 9
  • Existential dread: 9
  • Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 9
  • Drink pairing: Water with mint leaves in it
  • Music pairing: Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “Revolution Dub” or James Burton and Ralph Mooney’s “Corn Pickin’ & Slick Slidin’”
  • Rating: 9

Brandon Soderberg was the Director Of Operations and is a cofounder of Baltimore Beat. He is the coauthor of the book I Got a Monster. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of Baltimore City Paper. His work...

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