The last time Panamanian DJ/remixer El Chombo (real name: DJ Rodney Clark) was talked about on Billboard was back in 2001, thanks to the novelty smash “El Gato Volador.” The track, an early reggaeton hit, became a club favorite thanks to its then-new dembow beat.
Nearly 20 years later, El Chombo is back on the charts in spectacular, and unlikely, fashion, thanks to another novelty hit. “Dame Tu Cosita” (which translates to “give me your thingy”) entered the Hot 100 at No. 81 with 10.4 million U.S. streams (up 26 percent from the week before) and 1,000 downloads sold in the tracking week ending April 26, according to Nielsen Music. It’s his first entry on that chart.
So, why is El Chombo, an artist who’s been out of the spotlight for nearly two decades, suddenly hot?
The answer lies in an animated video featuring a little green alien — who looks kind of like the gecko of the Geico commercials — dancing to “Dame Tu Cosita.” It’s been viewed over 250 million times on YouTube and spawned thousands of home videos from users doing their own version of the “Dame Tu Cosita” dance. “Dame” was included in one of El Chombo’s mixtapes, Los Cuentos de la Cripta (“Crypt Tales”), way back in 1998. The track didn’t do much at the time. But last October, French video game animator ArtNoux took the song and used it as the soundtrack for his animated alien. He posted it on Dailymotion, labeling it “Alien Popoy possessed by reggaeton vibration!” and crediting El Chombo for the music.
Then, according to Ultra Records director of marketing Bina Fronda, the track took off in musical.ly, where users started to upload their own versions of the “Dame Tu Cosita” dance.
“It was huge,” says Fronda. “Musical.ly has over 60 million users within the app. Their average age is 15-18, and their reach is massive. And when a song or a video or a challenge takes off, it has a huge effect on radio, sales, and streaming.”
The effect was big enough that Ultra took note and contacted Juston Records, which had issued the original video, and licensed it for worldwide distribution. On April 5, the video came out on Ultra’s YouTube channel and exploded, aided in part by the channel’s 11 million subscribers.
Now, Ultra has tapped a “major artist” to record a new version of the song, with a video and new single released planned soon.
Meantime, “Dame Tu Cosita” continues to cruise, one alien step at a time. The video tops YouTube’s global chart, rising from its No. 2 position last week, and it’s currently at No. 22 on YouTube’s U.S. chart.
“I wasn’t looking for a hit,” said El Chombo in a statement. “20 years later, the hit found me.”