The music of Rema
A dive into the life of the rising Nigerian rapper, Rema.

Rema—an artist whose work I like—is a Nigerian rapper born on May 1st, 2000. His real name is Divine Ikubor. He has released many songs, including his top five: “Calm Down” (one billion streams), “Soundgasm” (100,000+ streams), “Dumebi” (100,000+ streams), “Soweto” (90,000+ streams), and “Charm” (80,000+ streams). My personal favourite is “Woman” (30,000+ streams). I also enjoy one of his most recent songs, “Pretty Girl” (+10,000 streams), made with Ice Spice. His journey to fame started with “Dumebi” in 2019. 

Rema was born into a big Nigerian family, living with his parents, an older brother, and two sisters. In an interview on the Afrobeats podcast, Rema revealed how the death of his dad changed his life. However, he persisted and leaned onto music. He grew up with music and would rap often in high school. 

Before his career started, he formed a duo with singer Alpha P called RNA. His fame started after D’Prince saw Rema’s freestyle to his song “Gucci Gang.” D’Prince flew Rema to Lagos and offered him a record deal, where they sang together and he helped produce Rema’s first songs. With support from the record label, Jonzing World, the music video for “Dumebi” came out and became famous. It hit more than 70 million views on YouTube and even ended up on Barack Obama’s summer playlist. 

One of Rema’s most popular songs, “Calm Down” featuring Selena Gomez, topped many song charts and even won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Afrobeats Video, as well as the Billboard Music Award for Top Afrobeats Song, among others. Rema also got an award for getting 1 billion worldwide streams for his songs in 2022. He got the Digital Artist of the Year award in February 2023. Rema’s “Calm Down” marked the first time an African artist–led track has gotten 1 billion streams on Spotify. In 2023, he also won the Nigerian music awards for Best Male Artist, African Artist of the Year, Crossing Boundaries with Music Award, Song of the Year, and Best Global African Artist. All in all, it was indeed an excellent year for him.

In 2023, Rema became the first Nigerian artist to sell out a tour in India. Rema also performed in Benin City, Curagp, and the Norwegian city of Tonsberg. Many people are labelling his talent on the same level as Wizkid, Burna Bow, and Davido.  

One of his most buzzworthy concerts came in at London’s O2 arena in 2023, where he mixed rap and trap music. Rema starts his concert riding on a dark horse with red fog and visual effects, creating a feeling of aggressiveness paired with his tone as he sang. He even changed his early songs to add more trap and rock elements. Later, he rides a bat in the air, referencing his native Benin City. While the performance was great, the audience was left with mixed feelings. Throughout the concert, there was a lack of cohesion. Two personas were shown, which greatly contradicted each other, leading to the audience’s confusion awkwardly mixing with Rema’s enthusiasm. Some fans even complained about long transition breaks

Rema’s passion still burns brightly, and fans are awaiting his future work. His skill isn’t in question, and he’s on the way to an even more prosperous future. 


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