Getting to Know Passinho

Regular readers of Volumes of Bass will remember the time we shared the story of Rio de Janeiro’s latest dance craze breaking out of the ghetto and into the international limelight. If you’re like us, the last place you anticipated for dancers to take the style is from aggressive club-oriented Funk Carioca to the more laid-back grooves of raggae. But if the numerous examples found on YouTube are any indication, that’s exactly the direction passinho has taken.

Youths perform a passinho do reggae routine

While considerably less spectacular, it seems this is a significant development along with the emergence of projects that clearly have the budgets for more than a neighborhood bodega’s borrowed sound system and a base-model Nokia camera phone for recording video. In case you’ve been wondering what Ricky Martin has been up to since falling off North America’s radar with the fading success of She Bangs in 2000, the latest answer is actually a single with a video that prominently features the dance:

Ricky Martin feat. Dream Team do Passinho – Vida

For the uninitiated, the best introduction to passinho is undoubtedly the 2012 documentary, A Batalha do Passinho that tells the stories of some of the favelas kids responsible for the style’s early development and activist Julio Ludemir’s efforts to get it the recognition and widespread acceptance it deserves by organizing dance battles for inner-city youths. The whole thing can be watched in its entirety for free on IMDB.

The trailer to A Batalha do Passinho


Tijuana comes to Portland

DJ Chucuchu – Chucumix Vol. 2

This coming Saturday, February 7, something very special is happening at Valentine’s. DJ Chucuchu is coming all the way from Tijuana to bring the cumbia heat.

If I had to pick one word to sum up my excitement about this event it would be “authenticity”. While for many the Mexican border town conjures gritty images of crime and strife born of Narco Cinema and urban legend, the fact remains that it’s a city of 1.7 million that no-doubt supports the kind of club scene a Portlander can only dream of.

DJ Chucuchu

Reading his bio on the Facebook event page, it soon becomes evident that we’re dealing with a bonafide international act, someone whose toured in support of A-list rock bands and electronic performers alike. For those of you not familiar with cumbia, it’s been said that it is like what the rest of the hemisphere listens to the way we listen to rock and roll.

If you’ve been to Gran Ritmos‘ stellar parties, you’ve certainly heard cumbia, but like rock, it cannot be encompassed by just that particular taste. Just as the Beatles and Marilyn Manson share a single tenuous thread of influence, so do many cumbia artist, some decades and continents apart, share a genre that is every bit as much a chameleon.

For contrast, here’s a mix of much older cumbia by GJDJ entitled “Mega Mix Sonora Dinamita”

Getting to Know Dembow

In our latest piece to promote this month’s Getting to Know You(Tube) event, we discussed the phenomenon of the Jamaican dancehall riddim. One of our favorite uses of riddims to emerge in the last decade has been in the nascent Dominican genre of music known as Dembow. Devoted fans of dancehall will immediately appreciate the scattershot referential nature of tracks like Secreto’s Ponte el Chaleco. Take, for example, this sample from 2:59 to 3:08:

Secreto el Biberón – Ponte el Chaleco


That juicy little flute riff and bassline are from none other than Santa Barbara by the legendary Sly & Robbie’s band Taxi Gang. When Taxi Gang recorded that one, the foundation for the track was Sly & Robbie’s own Bam Bam Riddim, featured here in Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus & Pliers:

Chaka Demus & Pliers – Murder She Wrote (1994)


The Bam Bam Riddim, while not the most widely used of its kind, is featured on at least 102 tracks according to In contrast to Demus’ chauvinistic admonishment of “corrupt and dirty” women, the riddim’s namesake is most likely the empowered and conscious vibe of Sister Nancy‘s 1982 track, Bam Bam:

Sister Nancy – Bam Bam


While Nancy’s inspiration is clearly the 1966 Maytals & Byron Lee & Dragonaires track by the same name, the riddim she sings over in her version is actually the Stalag Riddim discussed in the DJ Ripley video featured in Saturday’s post. If Nancy’s vocal melody sounds familiar, but you just can’t place it, it may be because you remember hearing it in Lauryn Hill’s track, Lost Ones.

So after that stroll down reggae’s memory lane, where does Secreto’s deejay take us next? Well, from 3:15 to 3:25 we hear the unmistakable verve and swagger of Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg’s Deep Cover. SELECTA! RUN DE RIDDIM!

Dominican youths dance at a dembow contest