Bam Bam — a 1982 hit by legendary Dancehall singer Sister Nancy — surged to No. 1 on Reggae song charts after it was featured in an episode of Netflix’s popular crime drama, Ozark, which was released over the weekend.
The track, which was certified silver in the UK earlier this month, continues to pick up placements in popular culture — most recently as one of 47 tracks in another Netflix series called Maid, and in the James Bond flick, No Time To Die.
In its latest screen feature on season 4 of Ozark, Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam plays in a scene near the end of episode 1 — titled “The Beginning of the End” — when Sheriff Nix visits one of the show’s antagonists Helen but is instead greeted by new character, Javi, at the door. Upon being asked about Helen’s whereabouts, Javi goes to “turn the music down” as Nix makes his way inside the house. However, Bam Bam, with its iconic horns and heavy bassline, is instead turned up to maximum volume to purposely drown out the gunfire that followed, as Javi immediately turns around and shoots the sheriff in the chest and head.
After this use on Ozark, which Variety reported was Netflix’s most-streamed original in 2020, it didn’t take long for the 40-year-old hit single to return to the music charts. Bam Bam surged to the No. 1 spot on the Top Reggae Song iTunes chart and Amazon’s Best Sellers list in the Reggae category after Season 4, part 1 of the show became available on Friday, January 21.
It is currently No. 2 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list and remains at No. 1 on iTunes for the third consecutive day.
It previously topped the Reggae iTunes chart after it was featured in the Sony film The Interview in 2015.
First recorded in 1982, Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam took inspiration for its chorus from the Toots And The Maytals 1966 song of the same name, while its instrumental sampled Ansell Collins’ 1974 song Stalag 17. The song was produced by Winston Riley and appeared on Nancy’s One, Two album.
Billboard Magazine once noted that Nancy’s “Bam Bam is a strong contender for the title of most sampled reggae song of all time,” while the Rolling Stone cited the song’s extensive list of samples when the publication ranked it at No. 454 on their updated “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list in 2021.
According to WhoSampled, there are 128 songs that have sampled Sister Nancy’s tune, including Famous by Kanye West and Rihanna, BAM by Jay-Z and Damian Marley, Lost Ones by Lauryn Hill, Bomb by Chris Brown featuring Wiz Khalifa, and Do To Me by H.E.R.
On Saturday, Sister Nancy, 60, whose real name is Ophlin Russell, shared the song’s return to charts on her Instagram page, where several fans gave the Dancehall veteran her flowers. But unbeknownst to some, she had not collected any royalties for use of the song for more than 34 years.
It wasn’t until 2014, when she saw the song in a Reebok ad, that she decided to seek legal advice on her music rights.
According to her, she then received 50% ownership of her One, Two album and ten years in past compensation. “Yes, I’m getting the royalties now,” Nancy told NME in 2018. “Now I own 50% of the ‘One, Two’ album. At least I’m getting something now, I never used to get anything.”
Meanwhile, a few weeks before his death, Toots Hibbert and his manager had told The Jamaica Observer newspaper that they had instructed a team of intellectual property rights managers to launch a thorough forensic audit to find out which musicians have covered or sampled the 1966 Bam Bam and which entities and individuals have been collecting publishing and royalties, without giving him requisite credit. Toots, who was the writer, composer, singer, and producer of the 1966 song, had said he never collected any royalties for it.
Toots Hibbert died on September 11, 2020, at the age of 77.