Rabòday and Dembow are the respective sounds of the streets and clubs in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, nations that share the island of Hispaniola but are divided along many lines. In the emergence of these parallel party sounds, the two nations are finding common ground, as highlighted in this mix from Miami-based production squad Royalty Statements — Dru Wu and Dumi, a Dominican and a Haitian.
Listen to the sounds of Rabòday vs. Dembow, Vol. 18 in the LargeUp Mix Series, below. And scroll on for an interview with Royalty Statements, about this much-needed musical unification.
Who and what is Royalty Statements?
We are DruWu and Dumi. The easiest way to describe what we are is to say producers. That doesn’t mean we just make beats all day. We’re using producer as an all-encompassing term that includes audio, video, design, and marketing. Music is the driver of our imaginations, but we’re creators. We’re working on a scripted web series, we shoot and edit music videos, write songs. Royalty Statements formed its roots when we were both in college. We are frat brothers, and used to keep a party called Blu Magic in Miami. After college, we both continued to be involved in music but in different ways. Dumi was focused on DJing and wound up having a residency in China. Dru went to Atlanta to where he interned with DJ Drama as a road assistant.
After working for other people, we came to a place in our lives where we both wanted to build something for ourselves. The epiphany was at Dru’s place. We were having a conversation about differentiating ourselves from other people doing music. We decided to shoot a scripted web series and use the series as the hub to get other artists involved in the music for the soundtrack. The goal from the beginning has been to give people insight into all the parts our authentic selves. There are so many different influences and styles that we weave into our music and visuals. From disco music, funk, and rock elements, to Wu-Tang, dancehall, and Latin sounds; we strive to present all these flavors in a way that is real to us and the fan.
A Dominican and a Haitian making music together, huh? Two countries, one island, and there’s so much division — language, ethnicity, music, culture. Are you consciously trying to bridge that gap? What’s that been like?
It’s crazy because in the U.S., it isn’t the same. The tension that exists between Haitians and Dominicans on the island is not as overt in the States. So for us, it wasn’t really a matter of a Dominican and Haitian getting together. It was just two college friends with mutual interests, but as time passed we were made aware of how impactful the two of us working together could be. Reading the reactions and conversations that have happened after being featured on other blogs was really eye opening. We’re not really trying to engage in a large-scale political conversation, what we are trying to do is really showcase the sounds of our countries. We want to incorporate Dominican and Haitian flavors and give them our unique sauce. It’s about remaining authentic to our cores while stretching the boundaries of genres and the internal boundaries and prejudices listeners may have. If the music’s hot, the listener will have no choice but to engage.
For those that don’t know: What is dembow, and what is raboday? How are the sounds alike and different?
At the core, they’re not that different. Urgency breeds creativity and these are the sounds of the streets. Dembow is to DR what rabòday is to Haiti, what dancehall is to Jamaica, and what funk is to Brazil. Rabòday is barely 10 years old. It’s so young, it is still evolving. It’s uptempo with influences of afrobeats, dancehall and rasin, and it’s in Creole. The relative newness of the genres is a big part of what makes them so intriguing. The development of these genres and the cultures that embrace and mold them are consistently shifting, and as more people get access to the internet, new ingredients are added to the pot.
What do you want to get across with this mix? What was the process for selecting tunes?
We want to shed more light on the sounds and the artists coming from our island. I mean sure, you might know bachata, merengue, konpa, and rasin. But there’s a new generation of kids expressing themselves differently, and we want it to give that mainstream appeal. We’re in tune with what’s moving, so selecting the tunes was based more on feels.
Fill us in on what’s next for Royalty Statements…
We’re consistently working to create new content, tracks, vlogs, and what we’re really excited about is the next song we’re getting ready to release. We recently flew to Jamaica and shot a video for our next song titled “Number 1.” It has dancehall artist Serani handling vocal duties. The release is actually going to be in partnership with LargeUp! The song is fun and bouncy, and the colorful video was shot in Kingston. The sound is a little different than other Serani records. The goal is for the record to connect with Caribbean and non-Caribbean audiences, while serving as a larger introduction to who Royalty Statements is, and what we do.
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