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A TRIBUTE TO PHILLIP SMART!

 

Phillip Smart at the mixing board at HC&F

Phillip Smart at the mixing board at HC&F Studio

By Francine Chin—
It was a wide-eyed teenager who was drawn within the innards of the music business over fifty years ago. Then a student at the North Street based St. George’s College, he had been a vinyl collector  and was “parring partner” to another budding luminary. Augustus Pablo –  who was also student at Kingston College, the other great North St. institution and a fellow Havendale, St. Andrew resident  – and Philip were tight. Pablo would become one of Reggae’s  most celebrated musicians while Phil would realize greatness as an extremely gifted studio engineer and producer with an innate ability to recognize and produce hits.
     Having cut his teeth at the famous King Tubby’s studio, Philip Smart, aka Prince Philip,  established the globally renowned  HC&F Recording Studios in Freeport, Long Island. Back at Tubby’s, Smart was top dog who had  worked on a slew of master  blasters  such as the Johnny Clarke chart buster, “None Shall Escape the Judgement”. Phil was a mere  teenager, when he produced (contrary to the records) and mixed  this track, a still celebrated Reggae  hit.
     His vision for New York was simple! Close the gap in the production and engineering quality  (Jamaica vs. Overseas) , extract big music from and place  the plethora of  New York  talent on the world stage; invade,  bombard and convert New York City and beyond with the best Reggae music through his own radio show at WNYU and  other programs.
Phillip Smart in the studio of WNYU-FM

Phillip Smart in the studio of WNYU-FM

     Mission accomplished! Philip not only produced Shaggy’s first hit record, he was a major member of the production and mixing team for the latter’s  Grammys. Chanter and actress, Sister Carol also spent much of her time at HC&F under the guidance of Smart. Sluggy Ranks, Alton Black, Shabba, Barrington Levy, Heavy D, Monyaka, Supercat, Maxi Priest, Wayne Wonder and so many others have  all worked within the  hallowed booths, under the expertise of the man we celebrate.
As a radio professional, Phil toiled for twenty-five years as producer and  host of  the number one Friday evening Reggae show at New York University’s WNYU. The “Get Smart Show” was organic, the selections unique and well timed, his presentation sweet and his team, tight. He  could have but didn’t stop there! When Bobby Konders received the green light from WBLS,  it was Philip whom he tapped to be  his music guide. In Nineteen Ninety-Three when I worked on WNWK , it was Philip’s input that made us into the top week nights Reggae show in New York City. Later on, he would continue to feed me music and instructions as I developed at WLIB, WWRL (where we both worked as a team) and The Ken Williams Show. Never once was Philip partial with the tracks that he had personally mixed or  produced. In fact, he hardly included his own productions. as his mission retained it’s importance over personal advancement.
Phillip Smart at the mixing board at HC&F

 

PhillipSmart:mixing
     Despite his huge contribution to Reggae’s international presence, his demeanor was consistently that of  a simple man. He was kind, gentle, never said “No” and always bold with  his infectious laughter. Philip Smart was a cache of knowledge who used his words to encourage, his actions to add substance and his life to make a difference. As DJ Sting said, Philip Smart was “…a man who gave so much and asked for nothing.”
      In a hurriedly penned tribute, Fitz Francis of Mighty13 Records writes: “When the music play I will miss you everyday, like the beat of my heart and it’s melodies from the start. A mentor, music educator, a great inspiration who motivate and prophecy my ambition in becoming #1 producer.”
     While our tears are plenty and our hearts are full, we must accept that your job is done and you live on through your works. We will miss you Phil.
*Condolences to his wife,  son, other family members and to his massive music family.

 

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