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Smiley Culture


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Smiley Culture (real name David Emmanuel) was a British reggae singer and DJ. Although his period of fame and success was brief, he did produce two of the most critically acclaimed reggae singles of the 1980s.

Emmanuel, born and raised in South London, is the son of a Jamaican father and South American mother. He was educated at Tulse Hill School. Prior to his recording career he worked as a DJ with the Saxon Studio International reggae soundsystem, where he met and worked with a number of other reggae artists, including Maxi Priest, Papa Levi and Tippa Irie.

Signed to the London based reggae record label, Fashion Records, his first single “Cockney Translation” (1984) was a Jamaican’s guide to the East End dialect - “Cockneys have names like Terry, Arfur and Del Boy/We have names like Winston, Lloyd and Leroy.” It picked up considerable airplay on BBC Radio One but only reached the lower end of the UK Singles Chart. Simon Reynolds has often cited this song in his writings, arguing that it presaged the creation of a new hybrid accent in which white East Londoners would adopt many terms of black origin.

Emmanuel had more success with his next single, “Police Officer”, released towards the end of 1984. This was the supposedly autobiographical tale of how Emmanuel was arrested for the possession of cannabis, but then let off when the police officer recognised him as a famous reggae artist. In spite of the subject matter - and possibly because mid 1980s radio station bosses in the UK did not understand the terms ‘ganja’ and ‘sensimania’ - the single was a Top 20 hit and earned Emmanuel two appearances on BBC Television’s flagship music programme, Top of the Pops.


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  • Quince-Brigada

    no justice no peace fuck the police

    9 Feb 2013 Reply
  • d0l

    i'm no forensic pathologist, but i'd think it was pretty difficult to stab yourself in the heart. the fact it happened during a raid is just curious. police have always looked after their own, is all i'm saying.

    12 Jan 2013 Reply
  • DavyHTheGhost

    One year on, still no justice

    11 May 2012 Reply
  • Sunzy


    11 Jun 2011 Reply
  • blueyz

    sad end to a reggae great, love his tracks

    2 May 2011 Reply
  • Psych0data


    17 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Bastard1

    Self-inflicted my ass! Bloody corrupt ass coppers is what did him in. Not ruling out involvement from the KGBilluminati. Peace bro.

    17 Mar 2011 Reply
  • ritesofspring

    Nooo, terrible news. Can't believe this. Self inflicted wound doesn't seem right somehow :( His tunes remind me of school days. RIP Smiley.

    16 Mar 2011 Reply
  • lanternerouge


    16 Mar 2011 Reply
  • keresaspa

    What a sad end for a really talented guy. Rest in peace, Smiley

    16 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Versional

    He reportedly stabbed himself when police raided his home for selling cocaine.

    15 Mar 2011 Reply
  • inikarain

    RIP Smiley :(

    15 Mar 2011 Reply
  • chintzy

    smiley what happened? ):

    15 Mar 2011 Reply
  • pakogah

    rip the legend :(

    15 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Aszton

    Irie tunes!

    25 Sep 2010 Reply