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Rema: The Nigerian Afrobeats Star Who Conquered the VMAs

todaySeptember 13, 2023 9

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Rema is a name that you might have heard a lot lately, especially if you are a fan of Afrobeats music. The 23-year-old singer and rapper from Nigeria has been making waves in the global music scene with his catchy songs, versatile style and charismatic personality. He recently won the best Afrobeats song award at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) for his hit single “Calm Down” with Selena Gomez, making him the second African artist to win a VMA after Wizkid in 20211. But who is Rema and how did he achieve this feat? Here are some facts you need to know about Africa’s shining star:

He started his career as a freestyle rapper

Rema was born Divine Ikubor on May 1, 2000, in Benin City, Nigeria. He grew up in a musical family and was influenced by artists like Fela Kuti, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid and Drake. He started rapping at the age of 11 and participated in several freestyle competitions. He also formed a group called RnA with his friend Alpha P and released a song called “Mercy” in 2018, which won the season 2 of Pikolo’s Dream Alive talent show.

He was discovered by D’Prince, the brother of Don Jazzy

Rema’s talent caught the attention of D’Prince, a Nigerian singer and the younger brother of Don Jazzy, the founder of Mavin Records, one of the biggest labels in Nigeria. D’Prince saw Rema’s freestyle video on Instagram and contacted him. He then signed him to his imprint Jonzing World, a subsidiary of Mavin Records, in 2019. Rema became the first artist to be signed under Jonzing World.

He rose to fame with his debut single “Dumebi”

Rema released his debut single “Dumebi” in March 2019, which became an instant hit across Africa and beyond. The song is a catchy Afropop tune with elements of EDM and Latin music. It showcases Rema’s smooth vocals and playful lyrics. The song topped several charts in Nigeria and other African countries and also gained popularity in Europe and America. It has over 40 million views on YouTube and over 100 million streams on Spotify.

He has released four EPs and one album

Rema has been prolific since his debut, releasing four EPs and one album in two years. His first EP, titled Rema, was released in March 2019 and contained four songs: “Dumebi”, “Iron Man”, “Why” and “Corny”. His second EP, titled Freestyle, was released in June 2019 and contained four songs: “Boulevard”, “American Love”, “Spiderman” and “Trap Out The Submarine”. His third EP, titled Bad Commando, was released in October 2019 and contained four songs: “Bad Commando”, “Lady”, “Rewind” and “Spaceship Jocelyn”. His fourth EP, titled Rema Remixes, was released in February 2020 and contained four remixes of his songs by international artists: “Dumebi (Remix)” featuring Becky G, “Iron Man (Remix)” featuring Rvssian, “Corny (Remix)” featuring Manny Norte, 6LACK, Tion Wayne and Love Renaissance (LVRN), and “Bad Commando (Remix)” featuring Major Lazer.

His debut album, titled Rave & Roses, was released in March 2020 and contained 12 songs: “Beamer (Bad Boys)” featuring Rvssian, “Rainbow”, “Bentley Truck”, “Alien”, “Woman”, “Ginger Me”, “Holiday”, “Peace Of Mind”, “Calm Down” featuring Selena Gomez, “Up Front” featuring Drake, “New Wave” featuring Chris Brown and Tyga, and “Soundgasm”. The album was a commercial and critical success, showcasing Rema’s versatility and growth as an artist. It also featured collaborations with some of the biggest names in the music industry.

He collaborated with Selena Gomez on the remix of “Calm Down”

One of the most notable collaborations on Rema’s album was with Selena Gomez on the remix of his song “Calm Down”. The original version of the song was released as a single in July 2020 and became a viral sensation on TikTok. The remix with Gomez was released in August 2020 and gave the song a global boost. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 2021 and has spent over 50 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. Afrobeats songs chart. It also became the first song from an African artist to join Spotify’s Billions Club, an honor awarded to songs that have racked up over a billion streams.

The song is about the events that led Rema to finding love at a party. He told Pitchfork: “It started at a party where I saw a girl who stood out from other girls, so I felt like shooting my shot. We spoke and danced…but her friends didn’t let me get any closer, which killed the vibe, but afterward when they weren’t there, we stayed in touch and hit it off.”2

Rema and Gomez have developed a close friendship since working on the song. They performed the song together at the 2023 NBA All-Star halftime show in Salt Lake City on Feb 19, 2021, along with Burna Boy and Tems. They also attended the 2023 MTV VMAs together in Los Angeles on Sept 12, 2021, where they won the best Afrobeats song award. They gave heartfelt speeches and thanked each other for the collaboration. Gomez also sent her love to Nigeria and thanked Rema’s fans for their support.3

He is a trailblazer for Afrobeats music

Rema is one of the leading figures of the Afrobeats genre, which is a fusion of African pop, hip hop, dancehall, reggae and R&B music. He has been praised for his originality, innovation and influence on the genre. He has also been credited for introducing Afrobeats to a wider audience and breaking barriers for African artists in the global music scene.

He has received several accolades and recognition for his achievements. He was named as one of the 10 Best New Artists of 2019 by Vevo DSCVR. He was also named as one of the 15 artists to watch in 2020 by NME. He was nominated for the BET Awards in 2020 and 2021 for best international act. He won three awards at The Headies, a global awards show for Afrobeats music, in 2021 for best male artist, African artist of the year and digital artist of the year.

He has also been endorsed by some of the biggest names in the music industry. Barack Obama included his song “Iron Man” in his summer playlist in 2019. Drake called him a “star” and invited him to his OVO Fest in Toronto in 2019. Rihanna danced to his song “Dumebi” on Instagram Live in 2020. Beyoncé featured him on her album The Lion King: The Gift in 2019 and on its visual album Black Is King in 2020.

Rema is not showing any signs of slowing down as he continues to make history with his music. He is currently working on his second album, which he said will be “more mature” and “more experimental”. He is also planning to go on a world tour soon. He said: “I want to give my fans more than just music; I want to give them an experience they will never forget.”2

Rema is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry and a pride of Africa. He is a role model for young aspiring artists who want to pursue their dreams and make an impact on the world. He is a testament to the power of music and its ability to transcend boundaries and unite people.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post about Rema. If you want to learn more about him and his music, you can visit his official website or follow him on X. You can also listen to his songs on Spotify or watch his videos on YouTube. Thank you for your attention and have a nice day! 😊

Written by: djWeymo

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