HipHop’s Dominican cousin may prove as a new source for hits

There is a steady and ever growing form of street music very specific to the Dominican Republic that has been somewhat of a contained phenomena. For the past decade or so most clubs, cars and colmados (local stores that also function as local watering holes) have been banging it. It rules the cities, the countryside and most places in between. It’s called Dembow and its everywhere. All ages and shapes and sizes of folks from all walks of life are tearing up danceflooors, chilling to it and just using it as the soundtrack for daily life. Not simply the latest craze this movement has established itself and it appears its not going anywhere anytime soon. Most Dominican rappers are also Dembow artists and vice-versa. Its parallels to Hiphop Kulture are undeniable. Large dance circles in the street and freestyle cyphers. Its got controversy. Some even describe it as a national shame. The kids LOVE it. It incorporates familiar Dancehall Reggae sounds with HipHop style lyricism sped up and set to a frenzy of lighting fast house inspired tempos and bass beats. The subject matter is not so deep and the verses not too complex in most cases, its subject matter and delivery of it (repetitive and often pitched up vocal chants), could be comparable to the “Booty House” or “Ghetto Tech” sound of artists like DJ Assault. The attempts to describe it and compare it are difficult. It contains elements and similarities to these genres but it truly has its own distinctive and original sound. It is a product of the Hiphop generation and mentality the way it is maintained and produced with constant releases and flipping Dembow versions of classic jams. The specific dialect of Dominican Spanish, which has many variations in pronunciation and alternate terms, sets it apart from all other forms of Latino street music. Perhaps this is main reason why it has yet to spread beyond the island as Reggaeton has from Puerto Rico. This may change soon however. As Sean Paul criticizes Drake and Bieber for not crediting dancehall as their source for hit singles while revealing many dancehall artists dismay with Major Lazer, it seems that the Caribbean sound is gaining more attention. All it would take is a quick shift of the eye on the map to the Dominican for the next “original” producer to harness these island vibes and re-package it to the mainland. In that it follows its own hybridized unique formula Dembow could be a potential new source to be “discovered” by the next mash-up spring break DJ sensation. If this happens you can be sure any number of your favorite top rappers are gonna get on that remix…

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