Nov 24, 2014
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Posts tagged: Smiley Culture

Inna New Style: Fashion Records Returns

Words by Jesse Serwer, via Shimmy Shimmy

Fashion Records, the U.K. record label which helped put British dancehall on the map with Smiley Culture’s “Cockney Translation” and “Police Officer” and later released hits from Cutty Ranks and Frankie Paul among others, has risen from the ashes. Fashion in Fine Style: Significant Hits, Vol. 1, a 20-track compilation featuring Cutty Ranks’ “The Stopper,” Dee Sharp’s “Dub It Up” is now available on iTunes.

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Cockney & Yardie: Heatwave’s UK Runnings, July 2011

Words by Gabriel Heatwave

Gappy Ranks is continuing to lead the way for UK dancehall reggae acts around the world. His world tour has been blazing up everywhere from San Francisco to Sydney and Miami to Montpellier. Next month he’s at reggae festivals throughout Europe–Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Spain–before crowning it all with an appearance at London’s Notting Hill Carnival.

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Cockney & Yardie: Heatwave’s UK Update, April 2011

Words by Gabriel Heatwave

Mr. Williamz

Mr. Williamz

It’s been a bumper few weeks for UK dancehall. In last month’s update, I mentioned that there are many reasons to be optimistic about the current state of the music over here. Here are some of those reasons:

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Cockney & Yardie: Heatwave’s UK Update, March 2011

Words by Gabriel Heatwave

Smiley Culture 01

First up this month is the tragic news that Smiley Culture, UK dancehall icon and a key inspiration for this column, has died, aged 48. In fact, we’re dedicating the whole of this month’s update to his memory and legacy. The circumstances surrounding his death are somewhat mysterious, with some debate over how his fatal stab wound was inflicted during a police raid on his home just outside London. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is underway and there have been calls for a full public inquiry into his death.

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Throwback Thursdays: Reggae Pon “Top of the Pops”

Words by Jesse Serwer


In light of this Cockney & Yardie trip we’ve been on recently (for better or worse), we thought we’d take a journey through the reggae/dancehall archives of the British hits showcase Top of the Pops, which aired on the BBC every Thursday night from 1964 until 1996 (and at various other, less-watched timeslots until 2006). Brits have better taste than us Yanks, or at least they did at that time, so while you’d be hard pressed to name any reggae acts who ever appeared on American Bandstand (or even Soul Train), TOTP‘s history is littered with memorable appearances, lip-synced or otherwise, from Jamaican and homegrown British reggae acts. Among those who gained some of their greatest exposure from the show are Dave and Ansel Collins (One of the first Jamaican acts to appear, in 1971), Althea and Donna (Their delightfully off-key rendition of “Uptown Top Ranking” might be the most thrilling of the bunch), and the late UK dancehall pioneer Smiley Culture (Doing”Police Officer,” a song that has just now taken on new meaning given the circumstances of his death on Tuesday). The series, which also hosted two of Bob Marley’s only network-TV appearances, fortunately lives on in Top of the Pops 2, which still airs classic, OG TOTP footage on BBC Two to this date. Here are some gems that have made it to Youtube, in chronological order.

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Rest In Peace: Smiley Culture

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton


Throwback Thursdays has come two days early this week, for the worst of reasons. We’ve just received news that Smiley Culture, innovator of the MC style of reggae in the UK,  has passed away in an incident involving the police in East Surrey, where he lived. Ironically, after years of obscurity, Smiley had just received a spot of press attention, having his pivotal role highlighted in the BBC Reggae Britannia documentary (not to mention our own Top 10 UK Dub & Reggae Anthems). There are already conflicting versions of events flying around, so we will leave to our UK correspondent Gabe Heatwave to tell us what it all means. For the moment, let us run tune and raise a pint in memory of a true pioneer.

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