Smiley Culture death shocks reggae world

Smiley Culture

An influential reggae singer who made his name with a Lewisham based sound-system has killed himself during a police raid on his home.

Smiley Culture, who had hits with ‘Cockney Translation’ and ‘Police Officer’ in the eighties, stabbed himself to death after police arrived at his house in Surrey earlier this week.

Born and raised in Stockwell, Smiley Culture came to prominence with Saxon, one of the UK’s most celebrated sound-systems that was based in Lewisham.

Although his musical career had all but ended, Smiley Culture was recognised as making a pivotal contribution by being one of the first reggae MCs to propel black culture into the popular consciousness.

But his recent years had been marred by involvement in drugs. He had been charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine and was due to stand trial at Croydon Crown Court next week.

It has been reported that Culture, whose real name is David Emmanuel, 48, requested to make a cup of tea before being taken to a police station for questioning. Whilst gone, it is believed he used a kitchen knife to kill himself. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is underway.

His death has sent shock waves across the reggae community. Tributes came pouring in as soon as the news was reported on Tuesday.

Along with many others, popular dancehall DJ Gabriel Heatwave used Twitter to pay his respects: Just heard that Smiley Culture has died. Sad news. RIP Smiley, true veteran and originator in dancehall music, pioneer for all UK MCs!!”

For more details, see the obituary as well as a comment on his influence.

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