Friday, March 18, 2011

RIP Smiley Culture

It was really sad to hear of the death of Smiley Culture, the genius behind Cockney Translation and Police Officer, in really strange and disturbing circumstances this week.

The lyrics of Cockney Translation were some of the first to really address the ways in which Caribbean slang and dialect and home-grown varieties like Cockney were starting to come together to create what most of would recognise as Multicultural London English/ Multi-ethnic youth dialect  these days. While the song is all about differences in slang, it's the shared subject matter and the celebration of different words that make this such a great song, especially considering the time when it first came out and the social unrest and race riots that had been part of the landscape around the early 1980s.

Musically and lyrically Smiley Culture led the way for people like The Streets, Lethal Bizzle, Dizzee Rascal and many other performers who've been happy to mix and match words from different strands of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds to create a new form of speech.

RIP David Emmanuel AKA Smiley Culture

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