Philip Smart's efforts lauded
KAREN Mason, who helped establish dancehall's ties to major record companies in the 1990s, credits the late engineer/producer Philip Smart with introducing Jamaican music to the American mainstream.
Smart, who produced songs by numerous dancehall artistes including Shaggy, Red Fox and Rayvon, died Tuesday from cancer in Port Washington, New York.
Mason stressed that many of the songs he recorded at his HC&F Recording Studio in Long Island were embraced by the hip-hop generation.
"Philip helped shape the sound of reggae in the '80s and '90s, not just in NY but worldwide. Songs that he produced or engineered became crossover hits on radio long before major labels even gave reggae a good listen," Mason said.
Mason first met Smart while she was a student at Syracuse University in the late 1980s. At the time, she was a disc jockey on the campus radio station.
"I moved to New York City, took a job at Sony Music and used to sit in on his radio show on Friday nights and learn through the music he would play and the stories he would share," the St James-born Mason recalled.
Smart, a protégé of dub legend Osbourne 'King Tubby's' Ruddock, hit his stride when he migrated to the United States and launched HC&F in 1981.
The complex was the go-to spot for dancehall/reggae acts in the tri-state area. Smart produced a number of hit songs, including Hot This Year by Dirtsman and Rikers Island by Cocoa Tea.
HC&F became the stomping ground for a number of emerging dancehall acts in the early and mid-1990s. The most noted was Shaggy who recorded early hits like Mampie, Big Up and Oh Carolina at Smart's studio.