Cumbow Combow Combo

As I linkthunk yesterday, I was gassed to hear (via /rupture) a reggaeton-inflected remix of some Mexican cumbia (video here). I was doubly gassed tho to see it labeled “cumbow,” which I took to mean cumbia + dembow or, perhaps, “with (dem)bow,” as in cum bow, to employ a little Latin, a la the Spanish descendent con. Now maybe that latter interp is a stretch, but this afternoon it was brought to my attn that there’s another, similar remix by the same crew, except that this one is labeled “combow,” which seems to suggest the con/combo meaning. Anywho, check it out —

What’s especially interesting to me about this one is that, whereas the Julieta Venegas version employs dembow-style snares (that ol’ 3+3+2), the remix for Miranda features one of the very same loops / samples used in a great many reggaeton songs. So in this case, remarkably and quite audibly (to me?), it’s not even a matter of bringing in “dembow” / reggaeton rhythms — which is essentially what the Venegas version does with its 3+3+2 snares (not a common characteristic in cumbia) — it’s actually the use of the very same drum samples used in reggaeton. Compare the Fever Pitch / Bam Bam -derived intro from Lady Saw’s “Rich Girl” (a common sample-source for reggaeton producers) to the ticking drum track running through the Miranda song. Rings a bell, no?

If I Was A Rich Girl – Lady Saw

Not only does this show how Sonidero Nacional are able to produce a reggaeton-y sound thru a well-informed production touch, this is a great example of reggaeton’s continued resonance and influence. What perhaps makes it even more remarkable is how subtle the incorporation is. I suspect that neither of these tunes necessarily screams “reggaeton!” to most listeners. A colleague who writes about cumbia didn’t hear reggaeton in them at all.

Do you?

13 thoughts on “Cumbow Combow Combo

  1. Hi! Caro Gonzalez over at Soundtaste pointed me over to your amazing blog!

    Now that you mention it, and I listen to the rhythm track a little more carefully, YES! I do hear the “Boom-Ba-Doo-Pah…” sliding in between the guiro.

  2. He didnt hear reggaeton in the Para Mi song?are you for real? u just meant the ones posted today, i hope. I cannot imagine not hearing it in THAT song, MAYBE the one posted today, but not the other.

    Anyway, I hear this song as being cumbia on the surface and it is what I would describe it as if asked and I hadnt listened closely. But as I sit here typing, my body apparently hears it as reggaeton because Im kinda dancing at my desk like I dance to reggaeton and not like I would to cumbia. The lower i turn my speakers down (so as to not shock and horrify my coworker) the more it just sounds like reggae(ton).

    When I hear a conflict, body always wins over ears. The ears hear singing and assorted instruments, mah body feels the riddim. And thats how I, as a dancer, classify songs.

    Not to be all weird, funny how we’re all(not sure who WE is) on the same page these days. I was just reading a little about Lady Saw last night , trying to dig thru my archives for some old tracks and this am she’s what you’d posted, I’d have expected Blass or something.

  3. Definitely a similar paced drum pattern to the cumbia the reggaeton dem bowish break. I often feel that cumbia drums drive but don’t really punch like the reggaeton patterns, but maybe because the productions are often thinner in reggaeton so the snares are more prominent in the mix. Anyway, nice post!

    Think ‘Rich Girl’ is by Brit girls, Louchie Loe and Michie One. Such a good beat, gets me every time.

    And cheers for the kuduro post link. Big ups to Weezy as ever.

  4. Good call, Will. I guess that’s a mislabeled imeem track — more confusing, though, is that a reggaeton producer told me it was the Lady Saw version that gets sampled and a search for “Lady Saw Rich Girl” turns up lots of instances. Are these just misattributions or is there a Lady Saw version that I’m not turning up?

    And of course, let’s not forget the real original:

    As for the drum patters, yes, often a similar pacing (tempo), but the prevailing / dominant drum/rhythm patterns are definitely distinct, despite some overlap (this is all afrodiasporic/new-world music, after all).

  5. I think its as simple as Michie One’s voice is pretty deep and doesn’t sound unlike Lady Saw. I could be wrong however ! And I’m sure you know about the Gwen Stefani & Eve’s ‘cover’ of the track also.

  6. I live in Cambridge, sort of in between Inman, Central, and Kendall Sq. Great neighborhood.

    I like JP too, tho. Spent many a festive evening out there.

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