I was shocked last year to find out that Smiley Culture owned a diamond mine and was also up on charges to supply cocaine.
But not as shocked as I was today when I found out that he’d died, in what has to be said are unusual and grisly circumstances.
As I said then, he was the first UK MC I ever heard (either on Radio 1 or Top of the Pops) and for many he is still the easiest way of explaining the origins of the UK dancehall / MC / story. His tunes still mash up dances across the world.
I was always intrigued about what happened to him after the late eighties and always hoped to sit him down one day and get the full story of his life out of him. I’m annoyed now that I didn’t try harder to do that.
As far as I know The Voice broke the story of Smiley’s death first, saying that:
The Police Office singer, real name David Emmanuel, is believed to have stabbed himself after officers raided his home in Warlingham, Surrey, earlier today. [...]
A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed they were now investigating a “death following police contact”.
This story has now been rolled out across the media and slightly altered to:
British reggae star Smiley Culture has died during a police raid in Surrey. [...]
A Met spokesman said officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Command were carrying out the raid in Hillbury Road.
He said: “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 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.”
Other reports refer to the incident as a “drugs raid”.
Obviously only a few people know what actually happened and it is pointless speculating too much at this stage. It is worth noting that the use of “following” and “after” in The Voice report jars slightly with the “during” etc of the later ones.
Setting that aside for now, there have already been some tributes to Smiley:
As Wrongtom and Boomnoise pointed out on Twitter, there’s a lot of focus on the two big hits, rightly, but let’s not neglect the other tunes. This always does it for me: