Today, we are going to look at one of the most recognizable and important riddims of all time. Through its various iterations, it has spawned a number of hits and even bigger than that, one of its forms has singlehandedly generated a whole genre of modern music. I’m talking about the Poco Man Jam Riddim, created by Steely and Clevie.
According to Encyclopedia.com, “Pocomania or Pukkumina (possibly from Span., ‘a little madness’). Afro-Jamaican cults descended from surviving forms of African religion mixed with Protestant elements from the time of the Great Revival in Jamaica in 1860–2.”
Supposedly one of the folk rhythms from pocomania worship made its way into dancehall in the form of Steely and Clevie’s Poco Man Jam riddim. Pocomania was played with a single drum and a fife but was rooted in African rhythms. The riddim swaps synths for the traditional fife but keeps the African rhythmic elements
Below is an example of pocomania revivalist chanting. Listen to the rhythm, especially around 1:37.
Now listen to the original “Poco Man Jam” song, that was a hit for Gregory Peck on one of the first voicings from 1989.
Notice any similarities? If you want to hear more pocomania recordings you can listen to the following album on Spotify:
The Poco Man Jam Riddim has had over 95 voicings including a 2014 revival that included Mr. Vegas’ “Okama”.
The Dem Bow Ridding and the Bully Beef Riddim are two other main examples of “sub” riddims that the Poco Man Jam riddim is credited with. The Bully Beef riddim is credited to the late producer Bobby Digital in 1991.
Riddim ID credits King Jammy as the main producer of the Dem Bow riddim in 1990. But, it also credits Bobby Digital with probably the most famous voicing of Dem Bow, Shabba Ranks’ “Dem Bow”. This is the track that inspired (and was copied) time and time again so that most people credit it as the entire foundation of Reggaeton music.
Here is a recent Daddy Yankee (reggaeton) track:
There is no question that Poco Man Jam has had a huge impact on Dancehall, importing this folk music/African beat into the modern dancehall vocabulary and subsequently Dem Bow inspiring the entire genre of Reggaeton.
Poco Man Jam was one of Steely and Clevie’s (many) superb riddims including Punaany, Street Sweeper and Bagpipe. Their contribution to dancehall reggae music can not be underestimated. They were one of the early masters of drum machine programming. They deserve a blog entry all to themselves. Sadly, Steely died in 2009 from health problems but Cleveland “Clevie” Browne continues to produce and also serves as the first chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica.
Finally this voicing on the Money Mix Riddim (2017) by Vybz Kartel shows how influential the Poco Man Riddim continues to be: