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Reggaeton's Massive 'dembow rhythm' Lawsuit

You'll probably be aware of reggaeton as the popular, feel-good music genre that evolved from a sun-drenched blend of dancehall, hip hop, Latin American, and Caribbean music, featuring a distinctive boom-ch-boom-chick beat known as the "dembow rhythm".

Probably the most famous reggaeton crossover track is 'Despacito', which was a huge hit in 2017 for Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi collaborating with Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee.

The genre has also helped catapult Latin music artists such as Bad Bunny to their current levels of worldwide popularity.

Where there's a hit, there's a writ...

You are probably expecting us to tell you that someone is suing Luis Fonsi and his collaborators for copying elements of their song.

Well... kind of. The Jamaican duo Steely & Clevie ( Wycliffe Johnson and Cleveland Browne) do indeed argue that Despacito infringed their 1989 song called “Fish Market”.

But lawyers acting on behalf of Steely and Clevie are claiming much, much more.

They say that Fish Market is the original genesis of reggaeton's fundamental dembow rhythm, and therefore claim that pretty much EVERY REGGAETON TRACK IN THE WORLD infringed Fish Market!

They are currently in the process of suing 150+ defendants, including Bad Bunny, Anitta, Pitbull, Karol G, Ricky Martin, El Chombo, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber, as well as all three major record labels.

Steely and Clevie's case is unique in its scope - if they win, they would have a monopoly over an entire musical genre.

We are looking forward to following the twists and turns of this one closely, as the lawyers argue whether Steely and Clevie's undoubtedly influential rhythm will be protected, or be interpreted as a fundamental building block of music itself and therefore free for all to use.

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