Dominican dembow enthusiasts have eagerly watched as El Alfa catapulted the sub-genre towards global recognition throughout 2019, turning disbelievers into collaborators and opening doors for artists like Chimbala, Bulova and Lirico En La Casa. As the collective gallop up the international hierarchy, a parallel movement known as “dembow underground” is taking over Dominican airwaves.
Dembow underground embraces hip-hop influences with old school machuqueo — the “boom-ch-boom-chick” dembow riddim. Known as the producer spearheading the movement, Leo RD assures it’s rooted in class.“[Dembow underground] was formed outside of what the elite is consuming,” Leo RD tells Remezcla.
“The dembow I make is underground because it’s dry,” he says, “It’s created for rappers, It’s raw and clear enough to focus on the verses.” Dembow took an unexpected turn as artists began to cater to the international audience, cleaning up their street phrases and creating simpler verses. Contrary to mainstream dembow artists, dembowseros in the underground scene rep their slang, street codes, and Dominican vernacular — one that’s often discriminated against in the music industry.
The implementation of stronger rap influences is significant. The unnecessary division within musica urbana on the island was an obstacle for dembow from it’s early years. Rappers and urban platforms enabled a stigma towards dembowseros, creating a belief that they were not to be taken seriously.
Similarly, the underground scene received a similar pushback. As Leo RD explains, “Though we were hot in the streets, we were hidden and our work was not being recognized. The barrios popularized the music causing an organic rise.“ It formed such a strong movement, that other [established artists] weren’t being felt in the hood because people adapted to our style. Now the media is paying attention to it.”
Today, rappers like Rochy RD and Kiko el Crazy are “crossing over” and highlighting their verses on the dembow beat. Familiarize yourself with the movement. Here are 8 underground dembow tracks.
Rochy RD feat. Kiko El Crazy - “TRUCHO”
Rochy RD revived the local rap scene in the Dominican Republic with gritty punchlines and by popularizing codigo callejeros or street codes. Using this raw style he crossed over to the current dembow scene rising in the barrios. With “Trucho” he paired up Kiko El Crazy, an ex-member of El Lapiz Conciente’s rap squad El Army Kiko el Crazy.
Pakitin El Verdadero “Dale Pakitin” (Remix)
Trap bow’s rise drifted dembow away from the cultural dance aspect. Dembowsero Pakitin El Verdadero is reclaiming dance in the sub-genre, popularizing the smooth modern steps said to be created in his barrio of Los Minas with “Dale Pakitin.” The remix brings in Yomel El Meloso, El Fecho, and Nino Freestyle.
El Fother feat. Junior LOMI and Mainy Woo - “La Pampara”
Known for his hits alongside now-deceased Cirujano Nocturno and his time in El Army, El Fother’s trajectory is one that expressed social criticisms and the overall hood experience. Collaborating with Junior LOMI and Mainy Woo, “La Pampara” takes the Dominican phrase popularized along with “trucho” in the underground movement.
Rochy RD feat. Los Pikilao and El Napo - “Llego el Cuco”
Rochy RD made sure to bring on the underground’s favorite duo Los Pikilao and the lyrical strikes of El Napo for this Leo RD-produced instrumental. Garnering 3.4 million views on YouTube since it’s premiere last month, “Llego El Cuco” is considered the current generation’s take on Doble T y El Crok’s “Pepe.
Yomel el Meloso Feat. Jankobow - “Gui Guin” (REMIX)
Yomel is considered the middle ground of the dembow latter. As an up-coming artist, he’s collaborated with his peers and international stars like El Alfa — emphasizing the importance of unity. The Villa Faro dembowsero remixed Jankobow’s 2-year-old single “Gui Guin” — instantly setting the track up for years of success.
Kiko El Crazy feat. El Shick “Hay Bobo”
Reappearing in the scene with a co-sign from El Alfa, colorful fashion choices, and don’t-give-a-damn attitude, Kiko El Crazy is unquestionably the rising star of the genre. Teaming up with dembow veteran El Shick for his third single this year, Kiko El Crazy has no time for the fools and pendejos with “Hay Bobo.”
Los Del Millero - Gailen La Moyeta - “No Te La De” (Video Oficial)
Teaming up with La Romana’s viral rapera Gailen La Moyeta, Los Del Millero opted for a traditional dembow sound for “No Te La De.” Recently adopting the moniker Los Pikilao, the long term friends from Leo RD’s hometown of Los Guandules are following the steps of Yomel and have joined forces with established artists like Lirico En La Casa and Bulin 47.
Pixie Flow and Yailin R - “Baila”
Popularizing the moves seen in Pakitin’s “Dale Pakitin,” Yailin or “La Mas Viral” has made cameos in 90 percent of the underground’s music videos as well as El Alfa’s “Pa Pa Pa.” Pixie Flow not only honors her moves with “Baila,” but brings her in for her first feature as an artist.