Obituary

Smiley Culture Dies In Police Raid

The Guardian has the terribly sad news:

The police watchdog is investigating the death of the British reggae star Smiley Culture during a Metropolitan police raid.

The 48-year-old singer and MC, whose real name was David Emmanuel, died on Tuesday from a stab wound sustained as officers visited his house in Warlingham, Surrey to make an arrest.

Although it is unclear how Emmanuel was injured, investigators are understood to be looking into whether the wound was self-inflicted.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “As part of an ongoing operation, officers from the Metropolitan police service’s serious and organised crime command attended a residential address in east Surrey to carry out an arrest warrant.

“While they were at the address, an incident occurred during which a 48-year-old man died. Officers from Surrey police attended the incident and it has been formally referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”

The IPCC confirmed that it was looking into the death.

Mike Franklin, IPCC commissioner for the south east, said: “We will be looking into the planning of the arrest, the way in which it was carried out and the actions of all the officers who were present at the time of the incident.”

Emmanuel had appeared before magistrates charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine last September.

The Guardian article discusses Smiley Culture’s career and his influence on British dancehall and the acts that followed him.

“Police Officer” was perhaps the first single I bought. I remember watching it on some chart show – it is the upbeat tale of an impending arrest for possession of cannabis being diverted by the “superstar” Smiley Culture. Just as he’s about to be thrown “in the back of the motor”, the arresting officer recognises him as the man behind the hit single, Cockney Translation (“in the Reggae charts No. 1 was its number/My kids love it/And so does my muvva”), and let him off with an autograph.

I’ve posted the video below, which is missing its last five seconds. Part of the fun of those old dancehall records – all records, really, in the days before Google – was working out what the lyrics were. Some are easy to get (“First ting come into my head: Good ting me hide me ganja!”). Others were most difficult. It took the invention of the internet before I got: “Me no charge for murder, Failing to produce is weh me charge for”.

Police Officer was a fantastic record, and Smiley Culture was the soundtrack of my early teens. I’ll miss him, and I’m sorry that his life ended this way.

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