|Cultural origins||1980s, Dominican Republic|
Dembow is a musical rhythm originally from Dominican Republic. When Shabba Ranks released "Dem Bow" in 1990, it did not take long for the Dembow genre to form. Riddims were built from the song and the sound became a popular part of reggaeton. The genre was based in homophobic roots as many of the original uses would refer negatively to gay men, insulting them in the lyrics of the music. However, this genre faced much change and translation over time causing it to lose much of its original meaning, including the term "Dem Bow" which became "Dembow" or even just "Dembo" in some cases. From the original song of "Dem Bow" originating in Jamaica, the genre of Dembow moved next to Panama, New York, and eventually reached Puerto Rico.
The main element of dembow music is its rhythm, which is somewhat reminiscent of reggaeton and dancehall music, but with a more constant rhythm and faster than reggaeton. Rhythm and melodies in dembow tend to be simple and repetitive.
Another aspect of the Dembow Riddim and music is its virulent masculinity and connection to the anti-colonial invective that colors much of the rhythmic soundscape of the Caribbean. Intertwined with these often hypermasculine tones and styles also comes potential homophobic lyrics and narratives in order to shame those who ascribe to those lifestyles.
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- El dembow: el sonido urbano del momento
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- "Digital Rhythm: The loopy origins of dembow and the knotty dancehall roots of reggaeton".
- Marshall, Wayne. Dem Bow, Dembow, Dembo: Translation and Transnation in Reggaeton. pp. 131–151.