Dive into Dominican Dembow: Rodrigo Films’ Documentary Sheds Light on Latin Music
In the bustling world of entertainment, some folks take a long while to figure out what they’re after, while others get the drift pretty early on. Rodrigo Rodriguez, known as Rodrigo Films, is one of the latter. In a recent chat, we got a glimpse into his journey in the entertainment world.
Rodrigo Films is a well-known name in the Latin community, celebrated for his work as a video and film director. His career has been a bit of a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs, but he’s quick to say that it’s all been worth it. His most recent work is a 50-minute documentary called “La Cuna Del Dembow,” which dropped on October 8, 2022, via Amazon Music. The documentary takes us on a ride to the heart of the Dominican Republic, where the Dembow genre was born and is still thriving.
So, what sparked this documentary? Rodrigo wanted to clear the air about Dembow. Many folks mistake it for other music styles like Reggaeton, and he wanted to set the record straight. He aimed to show what Dembow is all about, its explicit lyrics, and the unique slang Dominicans use. Plus, he wanted to shine a spotlight on Dominican culture, much like Merengue, and highlight how Dembow has transformed the lives of artists from tough backgrounds.
What makes “La Cuna Del Dembow” really interesting is the cast of artists featured in it. From big shots like Bad Bunny and Maluma to newcomers like Yailin La Más Viral, the documentary brings together an array of talents who share their stories and music.
Rodrigo’s experience collaborating with artists like Chris Lebron, Flow 28, and De La Ghetto on the track “No Saben” was quite the adventure. Chris Lebron, known for his reggaeton and R&B style, added a romantic twist to the Dembow track, while Flow 28 brought some trap flavor. De La Ghetto, an international reggaeton star, hopped on board, resulting in a surprising but enjoyable mix.
Rodrigo Films is skilled at capturing the essence of culture and music during his globetrotting adventures. In just 20 days, he filmed in Miami, Europe, and the Dominican Republic, showing how Dembow is making waves internationally. As for what connects Latin and hip-hop music, Rodrigo pointed out that they both touch on similar themes, despite their differences. They both delve into stories about life in the streets and relationships, connecting with audiences on a personal level.
For those looking to make it in the entertainment world, Rodrigo Films has some simple advice: If you have the chance to make a documentary or film about your music genre, go for it. It’s a way to tell the story of your music and how it’s evolving, leaving a mark for generations to come. As for the future, Rodrigo Films is working on an album to further support Dembow culture, featuring collaborations between established and up-and-coming international artists. More documentaries are also in the pipeline, promising even more exciting productions.
Rodrigo Films is proof that passion, determination, and creativity can make waves in the entertainment industry, all while celebrating Dominican culture and music.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your involvement in the documentary “La Cuna Del Dembow?”
The inspiration behind the documentary stemmed from everything that takes place in the underground neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic, where the Dembow genre originated and where all the Dembow artists that have become international like El Alfa, and Rochy started. Many people who listen to the genre don’t understand the genre and are often confused with other genres like Reggaeton. I wanted to demonstrate to the world what the Dembow genre really is. The genre can be explicit and the slang Dominican natives use is very different from other Latin cultures which can be misunderstood. In fact, we appreciate artists like Bad Bunny who have used our slang in his music and has helped other cultures to understand the Dembow slang.
I wanted to elevate the Dominican culture like the genre Merengue that is also part of our culture so I wanted to portray that. A lot of these artists have been able to change their lives, buy their families homes, and cars and have been given an opportunity to do more than just be in the streets. These artists come from rough poor upbringings who weren’t fortunate enough to go to school because it was expensive so I wanted people across the world to see that.
The documentary features a wide range of artists, from Bad Bunny to emerging talents like Yailin La Más Viral. What was the most fascinating story you encountered during your interviews?
Bad Bunny was a fascinating story because he has always supported the genre, has recorded with artists like El Alfa and even used a Dembow beat on Titi Me Pregunto. He has supported the culture through his music, craft and with the documentary. With Yailin, she’s someone who comes from a poor neighborhood, was a video girl and transitioned to become an established artist with many opportunities. Everyone’s story is fascinating like Rochy and they all have played an integral role in the genre.
The soundtrack for the documentary seems to be a significant project. Could you elaborate on the creative concept behind it? How did you assemble artists from different cultures and countries to collaborate on Dembow beats?
A lot of the beats that we used were from Dembow beats that have been successful here in the Dominican Republic. When we paired the Dembow and international artists it was easy because the international artists have already supported the genre before. So now that the genre has been growing more rapidly they were interested in collaborating. With the international artists they also understand how important a documentary is to elevate a genre.
Your first release from the soundtrack, “No Saben,” is a collaboration involving De La Ghetto, Chris Lebron, and Flow 28. Can you share your experience working with these artists?
My experience was incredible because Chris Lebron is not really considered a Dembow artist. Chris Lebron is different, he’s an artist who does reggaeton and R&B. When the project started, I was recording here in my studio in Dominican Republic preparing for the album for La Cuna Del Dembow and he quickly became interested in the project. From there he recorded a romantic style Dembow with his unique beautiful and melodic voice which is something we normally hear from him.
It was a cool experience because for him to be able to collaborate with Flow 28 who has more of a trap style turned out to be a great mix. Then the international reggaeton artist De La Ghetto hops on the track who has a mix of both genres. The collaboration was something that fans weren’t expecting especially since Chris Lebron just had previously collaborated with Bachata singer Romeo Santos and then to collaborate with an artists like Flow 28, supporting the Dembow genre was incredible.
Can you walk us through the process of capturing the essence of the culture and genre during your travels around the world – in only 20 days?
The documentary was finalized very quickly. We filmed in Miami, Europe and Dominican Republic. We filmed in Europe because right now the genre is taking over and has garnered an incredible acceptance. Artists like Lirico En La Casa, Chimbala, Atomic and now newer artists like Tokischa are crossing overseas and representing the culture. There’s also a lot of Dominicans in Europe, specifically in Spain and for us it was interesting for us to film overseas. We filmed during the Reggaeton festival over there and all the Dominican artists that were performing Dembow music at the festivals in front of European fans was incredible to live through. It’s one thing to watch it from a video but to witness how the fans would react, sing and dance was beautiful to capture.
With your experience working with both Latin and hip-hop artists, have you noticed any common threads that connect these genres, despite their cultural differences? How do you bridge the gap between them creatively?
Yes the genres are connected. Although the rhythm may be different the wordplay and lyrics are similar. In hip-hop they speak about women, neighborhoods and it’s similar to Dembow because they are also telling the stories about their upbringing and the beautiful women on the block. The new Dembow is a subgenre that’s making history like Flow 28 who raps about the street life but it’s the same story that other international artists talk about.
What advice would you give to aspiring producers, directors, and entrepreneurs who are looking to make their mark in the entertainment industry, particularly in the realm of music and documentaries?
When I created this film as a Dominican native I feel like I represented the culture. If you have the opportunity to make a documentary or film about your genre it is very important for the genre and for the upcoming artists because you’re telling the history of the music and how the music is evolving. That to me makes me feel good. I know that for any director from Puerto Rico who makes a documentary on the Reggaeton genre that’s going to make them feel just as good because that’s something that will live on forever.
My advice would be that although it’s something new it’s a different experience because you’re telling a story, working with different artists and it would be so important for your genre. It will change how people will view you and see you as the director that’s telling the story of the genre that’s breaking records and growing internationally and that makes you different.
Can you share any upcoming projects or collaborations that we can look forward to from Rodrigo Films?
We are currently finalizing the album and the concept of the album is to continue supporting the culture. So, we are working to accomplish connecting establish and upcoming international artists. We know it’s something that has been done before but it’s not the same as dropping a whole project with 12-14 songs that we are releasing with collaborations like the one with Chris Lebron, Flow 28 and De La Ghetto.
We are also going to have Jey One with Danny Ocean, Myke Towers and other artists that I won’t mention because I want it to be a surprise. But it’s going to continue elevating the genre and make the genre more international. A lot of times most of those artists have different fan base like Bad Bunny and El Alfa when they collaborated on La Romana. So, with this project we want to mix those type of international artists who have that fan base that support the genre with upcoming Dembow artists to help elevate their career. We are also going to be creating more documentaries which will be a bigger production.