Dem Bow

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"Dem Bow"
Song by Shabba Ranks
from the album Just Reality
Released 1990
Genre Reggae, dancehall
Length 3:36
Label VP Records
Songwriter(s) Steely & Clevie
Producer(s) Bobby Digital
Just Reality track listing
"Wicked Inna Bed"
"Dem Bow"
"The Rammer"

"Dem Bow" is a song performed by Jamaican reggae artiste Shabba Ranks,[1] produced by Bobby Digital who helped popularize and spread the reggaeton genre in the 1990s.[2] This song used the "Kukunkun"/"Poco Man Jam" riddim (based on the title of the 1990 Gregory Peck song and Red Dragon) created by Jamaican producers Steely & Clevie in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

The History of Dem Bow Remixes[edit]

After its release, "Dem Bow" was then transnationally remixed and covered, and it is in these slight sonic alterations that the pan-Latin cultural metamorphosis is revealed. In 1991, Nando Boom and El General released their covers of "Dem Bow", "Ellos Benia" and "Son Bow", which translated Shabba’s original lyrics from English to Spanish. Additionally, the word “bow” was transformed from a verb describing illicit sexuality to a noun used to label a gay person as a social pariah. Other Dem Bow remixes of the mid-'90s originated from Puerto Rico and New York in the form of long, 30-minute mixtapes that fused digital samples of hip-hop, dancehall and the riddim of reggaeton hits. These chopped up mixes of reggaeton and hip-hop created a new intercultural space of blackness within the urban diaspora of New York and San Juan. Additionally, while the introduction of accessible digital production tools widened the inter-diasporic sonic conversation across genres, it also provided a mechanism for the widespread commercialization of reggaeton into reggaeton pop. As seen in Wisin & Yandel’s 2003 version of Dem Bow, while there is a remnant of the original riddim, Ranks' political message of anti-colonialism and homophobia is completely erased and transformed into a song about sensuality and masculinity.


  1. ^ "Shabba Ranks: Dem Bow". Allmusic. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Wayne, Marshall (2008). Dem Bow: Translation and Transnation in Reggaeton (PDF). 


  1. ^ Marshall, Wayne. "Dem Bow, Dembow, Dembo: Translation and Transnation in Reggaeton" Lied und populäre Kultur/Song and Popular Culture 53 (2008): 131-51.