Wayne Smith, Inventor Of 'Sleng Teng' Riddim, Has Died

Jamaican artist passes away...
Wayne Smith

Sometimes the most successful musical revolutions are the quietest.

In the early 80s reggae was dominated by the decline of the roots scene, by British-born Lover's Rock and by the emergence of dancehall as a true form.

Still rooted in musicians and studio work, Wayne Smith inadvertently flipped this on its head. Starting his career in 1980, the singer worked with producer Lloyd 'King Jammy' James on a series of digital cuts.

Using a cheap casio keyboard, the pair came up with 'Under Mi Sleng Teng' in 1984. An immediate hit on soundsystems across Jamaica and beyond, the song ignited the digital dancehall revolution.

One of the most versioned riddims in the history of Jamaican music, entire compilations have been devoted to exploring its many variants.

From that moment, though, Jamaican music never looked back. Enjoying lengthy careers, both King Jammy and Wayne Smith enjoyed smash after smash - but few rivalled the success, the impact of 'Sleng Teng'.

The Jamaica Observer reports that Wayne Smith was admitted to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) on Friday (February 14th) after complaining of stomach pains.

Despite showing signs of improvement, the reggae icon passed away at noon yesterday (February 17th). The news was confirmed by Smith's son Tidel Smith.

Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

(Photo via United Reggae)

In tribute, Clash invited London based selectors The Heatwave to pick five essential versions of the 'Sleng Teng' riddim - check out that feature HERE.

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