Audio Sushi track of the day 2 Smiley Culture - Cockney Translation
Emmanuel, born and raised in South London, was the son of a Jamaican father and South American mother. He was educated at Tulse Hill School. Prior to his recording career he worked as a DJ with the Saxon Studio International reggae soundsystem, where he met and worked with a number of other reggae artists, including Maxi Priest, Papa Levi and Tippa Irie. Signed to the London based reggae record label, Fashion Records, his first single "Cockney Translation" (1984) was a Jamaican's guide to the East End dialect - "Cockneys have names like Terry, Arfur and Del Boy/We have names like Winston, Lloyd and Leroy." It picked up considerable airplay on BBC Radio One but only reached the lower end of the UK Singles Chart. Simon Reynolds has often cited this song in his writings, arguing that it presaged the creation of a new hybrid accent in which white East Londoners would adopt many terms of black origin. The British singer/rapper Plan B is a current example of this accent in popular music.
Emmanuel had more success with his next single, "Police Officer", released towards the end of 1984. This was the supposedly autobiographical tale of how Emmanuel was arrested for the possession of cannabis, but then let off when the police officer recognised him as a famous reggae artist. In spite of the subject matter - and possibly because mid 1980s radio station bosses in the UK did not understand the terms 'ganja' and 'sensimilla' - the single was a Top 20 hit and earned Emmanuel two appearances on BBC Television's flagship music programme, Top of the Pops. The record, although humorous, did have a serious aspect, in that it highlighted the way black people often feel they are unfairly treated by the police.
After this he signed to major label Polydor, but his work for them - including the album Tongue in Cheek, and the accompanying single "Schooltime Chronicle" - did not replicate the chart success of "Police Officer".
On 28 September 2010 he was charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine at Croydon magistrates court in London.
On 15th March 2011 David Emmanuel died during a police raid on his house.