Reggae is currently in the middle of another rejuvenation in the American music scene. While places like London, Japan and Toronto have always kept the culture alive, Stateside fans tend to be more fickle when it comes to Caribbean riddims. Rap, R&B and pop music have all seen roots reggae and dancehall come in waves throughout the years, we might have a few hot summers of Sean Paul radio hits, and then a dry spurt until someone like Kranium catches the attention of a major label.
We also have to steer some credit to a few of the current superstars in music — Rihanna, Drake and Ed Sheeran — all have incorporated reggae influences and sounds into their Billboard charts topping pop hits over the last several years. With all the aforementioned turns, purveyors of reggae in America are experiencing another wave of island vibes in pop culture.
But before you go off thinking today’s A-listers are solely responsible for pushing Jamaica’s rhythmic music to the masses, please do some homework. Actually you don’t have a choice if you’re still reading this article — because we’re here to help with your reggae history lesson, and we have to start with Sister Nancy, whose classic “Bam Bam” single took her from tiny dancehall clubs in Kingston to stages all around the world.
During a recent interview with VIBE, Sister Nancy opened up about recording the song when she was just a wide eyed 20-year old in love with music. She was under the musical tutelage of dancehall pioneer Yellow Man, who originally recorded a version of “Bam Bam,” before his young protege laid her vocals.
Sister Nancy was actually gaining popularity in Jamaica for her single “1,2,” while her most popular record to date was making its rounds in every other part of the world aside from the Caribbean. It wasn’t until Nancy actually migrated to the United States when she became aware of “Bam Bam”‘s global impact. Even the infamous scene in Hype Williams’ first feature film Belly, where the song is used, didn’t come to her attention until she caught the hip-hop movie on HBO during a random evening at home.
Watch the reggae legend discuss the cherished record’s unbelievable backstory below.