Singer and Dancehall Reggae pioneer Wayne Smith, who ushered in a new wave of digital beats in the genre, is dead at 48.
Credited with creating the still popular “Under mi Sleng Teng” riddim, or rhythm, Smith’s track has served as a backdrop for several classic Reggae records.
The Jamaican Observer reports that Smith was admitted to Kingston Public Hospital last Friday (February 14) for pains in his stomach. There was some recovery on Sunday, but Smith would eventually succumb after noon on Monday (February 17) as confirmed by Smith’s son. The Observer has more.
From the Jamaican Observer:
Originally from Waterhouse, Smith started his career in 1980 with producer Lloyd ‘King Jammys’ James who produced ‘Under mi Sleng Teng’ four years later.
‘Under mi Sleng Teng’ was orchestrated by Smith and musician Noel Davey on an inexpensive Casio keyboard. It was first played at dances on James’ sound system and got such strong response that James released the song in late 1984.
The ‘riddim’ of the same name produced numerous hit songs including ‘Pumpkin Belly’ by singer Tenor Saw.
The track is largely considered in Dancehall circles as the first all-digital beat to be used in the genre. Several singers and Dancehall “deejays,” or rappers, have used the backing track such as Johnny Osbourne, Elephant Man, the aforementioned Tenor Saw, Junior Reid and hundreds more.
According to the Wikipedia entry for “Sleng Teng,” the riddim has been “versioned” or re-recorded 380 times.
Our condolences to the Smith family.
Check out the classic “Sleng Teng” riddim below.
Photo: Wayne Smith/Jamaican Observer