British deejay pioneer Smiley Culture has died during a police raid in Surrey in the south east of England according to BBC News. He died of a suspected stab wound when police officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Command carried out an arrest warrant at his home. Smiley Culture was due to face trial next week accused of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Smiley Culture rose to fame in 1984 when his debut – the hilarious Cockney Translation – hit the streets. The single made fun of the cockney dialect and was an instant hit. His other hit song was titled Police Officer.
He was part of several talented British deejays, or MCs as they preferred to be called, that was popular in the early and mid eighties. This period is deeply explored on Nice Up the Dance – UK Bubblers (1984 – 1987) released last year.
Smiley Culture, whose real name was David Emmanuel, recently appeared in the BBC4 documentary Reggae Britannia. He was 48 years old at the time of the incident.
In the early 80’s something interesting started to develop on the UK reggae scene. UK reggae acts such as Steel Pulse and Aswad were suddenly challenged by a new wave of reggae artists. These were young and hungry youths from London, Bristol and Birmingham.
In No No Way Daddy Rusty states “I’m an MC, don’t call me deejay”. This is significant for the new Greensleeves compilation Nice Up the Dance – UK Bubblers 1984 – 87, that consists of tunes released on the UK Bubblers imprint. These youths wanted to create something new, something that not merely copied their Jamaican counterparts.
And it was around UK Bubblers and the legendary British sound system Saxon that the fast chatting style was developed.
This compilation collects 36 tunes from both known and unknown artists. Among the former are the late Deborahe Glasgow, Pato Banton and Tippa Irie, who is represented by nine tracks. And his takes are some of the many highlights, for example his combination with Daddy Colonel and the fast chatting All the Time the Lyrical A Rhyme, a version of the Real Rock rhythm.
The lyrics are humorous and at times paint a picture of Margaret Thatcher’s England. The rhyming is inventive and sometimes a bit cheesy, as in Sparky Dean’s Satisfaction Guaranteed – “For some to be a Bubbler the price may be dear, for you to check the mic you must have no fear”. But that doesn’t matter when you have a great flow and some devastating hard rhythms.
Nice Up the Dance – UK Bubblers 1984 – 87 is also a great way to explore the scene’s evolvement. You can easy follow how the sound is developing from 1984 up until 1987. It’s rougher in the beginning and smoother and more polished later on.
This compilation is a must have for any music lover or dancehall aficionado. I strongly recommend you to buy the cd, as the sleeve contains very readable excerpts from magazines of the period when the all this was happening.