The Lowdown: Dembow, the propulsive and distinctly Dominican cousin to Puerto Rican reggaetón, has been on the cusp of its mainstream moment long enough for its “breakout” stars like El Alfa and Kiko el Crazy to be considered OGs. Yet despite satellite scenes in Spain and New York, features and co-signs from megastars like Bad Bunny and J Balvin, dembow still rings louder in the underground than on the charts. In El Bajo Mundo in Santo Domingo, the very things that make dembow resistant to the masses are what make the music so electric: Stratospheric BPM, raw vulgarities, and a rapidly evolving local dialect resistant to translation by outsiders. In the latest wave, women like Tokischa, Gailen La Moyeta, and La Yensy Jordan have carved out space for Black femmes in a scene that has historically pushed them to the background. And on Calle 42 in the Capotillo district, tetes rage into the night, with kids dancing on rooftops — or in traffic — to high-octane bangers by Flow 28 or Angel Dior.
Artists to Know: Angel Dior, Tokischa, Flow 28, Gailen La Moyeta, La Yensy Jordan
Key Track: Angel Dior, “A I O.” Angel Dior’s runaway train flow is well known in la 42, but he’s recently leveled up: Rosalía featured his recent hit “A I O” during her Louis Vuitton fashion show performance, allegedly drawing attention from the French fashion house from which he derived his name.