Asher Senator is one of the most gifted reggae MCs we've ever had in this country. He and his best friend, the late Smiley Culture, were at their peak during the mid -to -late eighties, an era when UK reggae and dancehall music was in its heyday.John Masouri (Read the full review)
Smiley & Me is a first-hand account by Asher Senator about his friendship and musical partnership with the gifted MC Smiley Culture.
Starting in the early 1980’s it chronicles the growing pains and assimilation of energetic black teenagers’ In urban Briton at a culturally sensitive time.
Smiley and Me recounts how a community finds its voice. Not only in a social political sense. By setting out to write and perform conscious lyrics Asher, Smiley, Peter King and a generation of reggae MC’s articulated alternative viewpoints and identities.
Smiley and Me takes the reader behind the machine of the independent music business. It stakes out what it takes to create hit records and forge a musical sub-genre.
Asher Senator is one of the most gifted reggae MCs we've ever had in this country. He and his best friend, the late Smiley Culture, were at their peak during the mid -to -late eighties, an era when UK reggae and dancehall music was in its heyday. Smiley had hits with Police Officer and Cockney Translation, whilst Asher made his mark with Abbreviation Qualification and an album that pitted him against Jamaican Deejay Johnny Ringo, whose career never recovered from the experience. Smiley and Asher were each gifted in their own right, and devastating when trading lyrics in combination. It was they who invented the continuous rhyming style where every line ends with a rhyme, right the way through the track. This was a major stylistic innovation and the two of them were so skillful at it, they could dazzle you with lyrics, humour and technique, all at the same Time. Whilst they'd made their name chatting on sounds from the Wandsworth area— especially Buchanan— it wasn't until joining Saxon that their careers really took off, and they began to get noticed. The creativity that exploded from that camp changed the face of reggae history, and Smiley, Asher, Peter King Papa Levi and the other Saxon MCs even put Jamaica on the back foot at one stage —an occurrence that hasn't happened before or since.
It's doubtful that this compelling memoir would have been written had Smiley not died — or was killed, if you subscribe to that theory— in such troubling circumstances five years ago. Shortly before he passed, Smiley asked Asher if he would provide a character reference for him, prior to a court hearing Smiley never made it before the judge, and the character reference that Asher wrote for him first turned into a eulogy recited at his funeral and now this full length book telling of the pairs exploits together. Their adventures tumble off the page like a movie script, and the action doesn't let up loran instant. We're told about their early days in south London, their introduction to sound system, girl trouble, local rivalries and a multitude of pranks involving club bouncers, unscrupulous promoters and the denizens of Railton Road, on Brixton's Infamous frontline. As the duo became more established and the hits began to flow, their spheres of activity widened accordingly. As part of Saxon, they travelled up and down the country but it's their larger -than -life exploits In Spain. France, New York and Jamaica that stay long in the memory, and also Smiley's fascination with real-life gangsters, like the notorious Gypsy J, who scammed him out of thousands yet still had him going back for more. Smiley enjoyed playing the high roller and when his musical celebrity began to ebb after the record deals and his weekly television show on Channel 4 [anyone remember Club MiX?] ended, he looked for other ways of attaining riches. It was at this point that his musical career took a back seat. We'd still see him in his Bentley and designer clothes, but he'd become drawn to another way of life that would ultimately cost him his own.
Smiley always had tremendous front and could charm or bluff his way out of most trouble that came his way, but the last few weeks of his life found him plagued by worries over deals that had gone astray, and impending court cases. Asher loved Smiley like a brother, and describes his early triumphs and subsequent fall from grace with the same witty, incisive realism that went into their lyrics. He's a talented writer, and has not only done Smiley and himself proud with this book, but also UK reggae and dancehaII music as a whole.