It’s hard to believe Rema was only officially introduced to the Nigerian music scene 9 months ago. The young Mavin star has spent the better part of the year performing for huge and very responsive crowds all over Nigeria and abroad. The ladies love him, and he’s been acknowledged by some of the biggest names in our industry. Dumebi, Lady, and Bad Commando have all been massive hits in Nigeria, but Iron Man seems to have made the biggest impression abroad.
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According to Rolling Stone:
‘Rema’s vocals bring to mind both classic T-Pain and pop from India; he’s almost smearing rather than singing. But when paired with the precise rhythms of Afrobeat, this becomes impressionism you can dance to.’
This review was published in a recent article where Rolling Stone listed Iron Man (a song off Rema’s first, self-titled EP) as one of the Top 50 Songs of 2019. Rolling Stone is one of the most popular magazines in America; a biweekly magazine that has been reporting on music, pop culture, and politics since 1967. By 1973, Rolling Stone was so relevant to the music industry that an American rock band, Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, wrote a song about the magazine called The Cover of Rolling Stone, which became a Top Ten hit. The titanic influence of Rolling Stone has waned with the withering of the Baby Boomer generation, but the magazine’s shadow still looms over music history and American pop culture. To be recognized by Rolling Stone is to be acknowledged by a foreign personality as influential as Barack Obama. Interestingly, Barack Obama listed Iron Man on his summer playlist in August. Seeing Rema’s name at No. 42 caused a lot of buzz on social media that month.
Early last year, Rema heard the song Gucci Gang by D’Prince, and decided to perform a freestyle on the beat. He sent the song to his producer, LiquidMix, and asked him to make a similar beat. When D’Prince heard Rema’s Gucci Gang freestyle, he liked it so much he invited Rema to Lagos. According to Rema, this was in February 2018. Before that time, Rema had been trapping, rapping, and dropping freestyles in Benin. Since then, Rema has introduced his own eclectic take on Afrobeats and trap with three E.P’s, contributing his quota to the rapidly changing landscape of music in Nigeria. He released his first E.P (Rema) in March, a second E.P (Rema Freestyle) in June, and a third E.P (Bad Commando) in October. That first Mavin backed release was his ticket to this present fame.
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Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, a popular music critic, has expressed suspicions that the Afrobeats vibe making Rema so popular is more from Don Jazzy’s genius ability to guide artists and give the Nigerian music industry what it wants, than from Rema himself. But Rema seems comfortable straddling trap and Afrobeats, so maybe we can just call him versatile. We should all go listen to Iron Man again and see what it is we missed. Rolling Stone says the track is like ‘warm honey over a plinking, pleasantly syncopated beat.’ That’s a 5-star review.
Featured Image Source: Rema – Youtube
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