Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Controversial Death of Smiley Culture

 Last week in London, a march was held in the name of 'human rights and justice' after the death of UK reggae singer, Smiley Culture. 'Smiley' died from a single stab wound to the heart during a police raid at his house. Police state that the wound was self-inflicted, but as the crowds of protesters demonstrate, many believe there is more to the story than the official version. His death is being investigated.

Smiley was a big name in the UK, paving the way for much urban music today. He had success both for his DJ work with the Saxon Soundsystem and for his hits as a solo artists. His first single 'Cockney Translation,' aimed to help the Jamaican communities to understand cockney London talk. The themes of this song also signaled the growing connection between working class and Caribbean immigrant communities in inner cities of UK, and nodded to the increasing influence of Jamaican patois on English language. Smiley's most successful single, 'Police Officer,' told a humorous story of police taking his weed, but the underlying message told of prejudice amongst the UK police in their treatment of black people.

At the march, instead of holding a minute's silence for Smiley, 'Police Officer' was played over a sound system while the crowd danced and sang along.

There are now plans to re-release this song, and hold a concert in the name of all those who die in police custody. Word has it that David Bowie, Sade, Nas, and Damian Marley are all in talks to be involved. Watch this space, and take in Smiley's tune:

-Kate Bolgar Smith
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