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Wayne Smith (musician)

Wayne Smith (5 December 1965 – 17 February 2014) was a Jamaican reggae and dancehall musician best known for his 1985 hit "Under Mi Sleng Teng", which is regarded as the track which initiated the digital era of reggae.

Wayne Smith
Wayne Smith (musician).jpg
Wayne Smith
Background information
Born(1965-12-05)5 December 1965
Kingston, Jamaica
Died17 February 2014(2014-02-17) (aged 48)
Kingston, Jamaica
GenresReggae, dancehall
Years activeLate 1970s–2014


Smith grew up in the Waterhouse area of Kingston, Jamaica.[1] He performed with sound systems and began recording in 1980 at age 14, initially working with producer Prince Jammy, his next door neighbour, who produced his debut album Youthman Skanking (1982) and the 1985 follow-up Smoker Super.[1][2]

His 1985 recording of "(Under Mi) Sleng teng", is generally regarded as the beginning of ragga style reggae. The rhythm was a pattern found on a Casio MT-40 keyboard and is based on the riff from Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else", and the lyrics inspired by Barrington Levy's "Under Mi Sensi".[2][3][4] Although there are a number of conflicting stories about how it was first found, the commonly accepted view is that Wayne Smith and Noel Davy discovered it.[5] Smith had further hits with "Come Along" which used the Stalag riddim, and "Ain't No Meaning in Saying Goodbye".[1]

After leaving Jamaica for New York in 1989, he established his own record label, Sleng Teng Records.[1] He worked as well with several record producers from New York, Jamaica and Europe, such as Heartical Sound and Evidence Music. In 2011, Smith made his first European tour with Little Lion Sound from Switzerland. He returned to live in Jamaica in 2013 with his youngest daughter Arella and fiance Fiona, settling in Mandeville.[1]

Smith was admitted to Kingston Public Hospital on 14 February 2014 with severe stomach pains, and died on 17 February 2014, aged 48.[1][4][6] He was survived by five children and three grandchildren.[1]


  • Youthman Skanking (1982), Black Joy
  • Smoker Super (1985), Chartbound
  • Wicked Inna Dancehall, Rohit
  • Showdown Vol. 7 (1986), Hitbound – split with Patrick Andy
  • Under Me Sleng Teng (1986), Greensleeves
  • Sleng Teng + Computerised Dub (1986), Greensleeves – split with Prince Jammy


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Campbell, Howard (2014) "Wayne Smith, Trailblazer", Jamaica Observer, 19 February 2014; retrieved 19 February 2014
  2. ^ a b Katz, David (2014) "Wayne Smith's Under Mi Sleng Teng – the song that revolutionised reggae", The Guardian, 20 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014
  3. ^ Serwer, Jesse (2014) "Reggae Pioneer Wayne Smith Dead at 48", Rolling Stone,20 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014
  4. ^ a b Brooks, Sadeke (2014) "Voice Of The 'Sleng Teng' Goes Quiet – Wayne Smith, Orchestrator Of Dancehall's Most Notable Rhythm, Dies", Jamaica Gleaner, 19 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014
  5. ^ Manuel, P. & Marshal, W. "The Riddim Method: Aesthetics, Practice, and Ownership in Jamaican Dancehall". Popular Music (2006) 25:3. Cambridge University Press, pp. 447–470
  6. ^ "Wayne 'Sleng Teng' Smith is dead". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.

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