“Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy 

Sister Nancy is widely regarded as the world’s first woman to make it mainstream as a Dancehall DJ. And as far as her discography goes, Nancy’s most notable activity took place during the early 1980s. Those facts would logically imply that she faced some forms of gender-based discrimination during her come up. And as far as the verses of “Bam Bam” go, that is the concept which serves as their premise.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Sister Nancy's Bam Bam at Lyrics.org.

The vocalist is saying that some people sleep on her and even question ‘her ambition’ as far as her profession goes. The further implication would be that such misgivings are not based on her being a musician per se but more so a dancehall artist, i.e. endeavoring in a genre that is dominated by men, especially back in those days. But Sister Nancy’s response is not only does she have dope lyrics, but she’s also just as hard as the next man in the game, so to speak.

Meanwhile, concerning the title/chorus, the vocalist has reportedly confirmed that what she’s basically doing therein is harmonizing. And in that regard, she was inspired most notably by another dancehall musician named Yellowman, who dropped his own version of “Bam Bam” prior to her.

Lyrics to Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam"

Sister Nancy

Sister Nancy is a musician you probably never heard of in name before, despite the fact that she ranks amongst the pioneers of Jamaican dancehall. What she is primarily known for instead is the later success of her signature track “Bam Bam”, which holds the distinction of being “the most sampled dancehall song of all-time”.

Release and Success of “Bam Bam”

Since Sister Nancy released “Bam Bam” on the 1st of January 1982, it has been heavily utilized by the hip-hop community and even Hollywood. In terms of the latter, a number of artists have either sampled or interpolated this piece into their own songs. And this includes the likes of:

  • Lauryn Hill (1988)
  • Chris Brown (2011)
  • Kanye West (2016)
  • Jay-Z (2017)
  • Lizzo (2017)
  • Logic (2019)
  • H.E.R. (2020)

As implied earlier, Sister Nancy is more of an underground musician. And that would at least in part explain why this song wasn’t actually a hit, even in her homeland, when it first came out. However, about 15 years later, she relocated to America, and that was when she discovered that people were feeling it there and elsewhere. 

It was around that time the song was featured on Belly, that gangsta classic starring Nas and DMX. But Nancy was not in a position to capitalize on its usage. In fact it wasn’t until 2014, after Reebok used the song for a commercial, that she took proper legal action and first scored royalties from “Bam Bam”. More specifically she was able to acquire 50% ownership of “One, Two”, her studio album which contains this track, presumably from Technique Records, the label that put it out.

Bam Bam

Even More Success

Indeed this is a track which, all things considered, we can presume no one involved in its issuance expected to blow up like this, as it is still paying dividends to this day. For instance, in 2016, after being featured on the hit Netflix show called Ozark, this classic reached number one on iTunes’ Top Reggae Song list, as well as on the Amazon reggae chart. 

Then, as recently as 2021, Rolling Stone decided to place Bam Bam on their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. And this was the same year in which the song made it onto “No Time to Die“, i.e. the James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig.

Interesting Facts

The Jamaican dancehall scene is such that various artists tend to drop lyrics over the instrumental, which they refer to as riddims. And in this case, Sister Nancy used what is known as the Stalag riddim, as derived from a song entitled “Stalag 17” by Ansell Collins, which the same Technique Records put out in 1973. 

Lyrically she was inspired by another song entitled “Bam Bam” which a well-known ska/rocksteady group, Toots and the Maytals, dropped in 1966, as well as a cover of that song by Yellowman in collaboration with Fathead (1960-1988).

In 2022, Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran released a song that shares the same title as this.

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