A whole lot of people today are fans for the soft Afro prince Rema, but not all know the storyline behind the youngsters success or upbringing.
NMC 9ja today has Rema on our discovery desk and we are ready to throw lights on his background.
Who Is Rema!?
Born Divine Ikubor, Rema grew up in Nigeria’s bustling Benin City, near the country’s southern coast.
He was forced to mature early on, after his father died from asthma-related issues when Rema was only 8 years old.
Then, in 2015, his older brother passed away as well. He was forced to go to get a job to help out his mom, who worked as a trader of wholesale goods. » “I was lost after losing my brother,” says Rema, suddenly stoic. “I had to change the way I talk, the way I act, and fight to make it in society.”
How Come About His Music Career.
He fell in love with music at his church, which took a split service approach—adults went to one session and teenagers another.
He used that freedom to start a rap group, enlisting some of his fellow young churchgoers. » “We had to do it all on our own because the adults weren’t ready for that yet,” explained Rema.
Slowly, the grownups came around to his group — but only after he added certain elements. » “Everyone just listens to Afrobeats here, so we had to attract them with costumes and dance moves,” he says. » “It’s where I learned that if I want to impress someone I have to do what they like plus what I like.”
When It Start To ReVibe.
In 2018, a bored Rema randomly decided to drop a front-seat freestyle to Afropop star D’Prince’s “Gucci Gang” on social media.
The post got around, and Rema soon received a DM from D’Prince himself.
The teenager was quickly flown to Lagos to record. » “At the time I only had trap songs, so when [D’Prince] put me in the studio with an Afrobeats producer I was scared,” Rema explains. “But I just mixed my trap vibes in and didn’t force it.”
D’Prince took the music to his older brother, Mavin Records founder Don Jazzy, and Rema became the powerhouse label’s latest signee. » “I was screaming ‘Yes, oh my god yes!” Rema recalls, looking like he’s about to burst into tears of happiness all over again. » “The biggest label in Nigeria wanted me.”
More About Rema.
Recently, Rema released a follow-up EP that offers polished versions of his trap-leaning Instagram freestyles, displaying his effortless composure when faced with any style of beat.
It quickly shot to the top of his home country’s Apple Music chart; as of this writing, four of the Top 10 most streamed songs in Nigeria (as of 2019) are Rema songs.
Reacting to his skyrocketing popularity, the young singer laughs in disbelief and exclaims, » “What can I say, I’m a superstar!”
Despite “Dumebi” being your biggest song so far, you don’t seem like you want to stay in that lane. Why?
Rema: I listened to Afrobeats growing up, but I never thought that was something I would do.
I really, really loved rapping. Most of the time people want me to make Afrobeats because it’s the biggest genre in Nigeria, but I don’t really like doing what people want.
For instance, “Why,” from your debut EP, sounds more like rap on SoundCloud than Afrobeats.
Rema: Well, I love SoundCloud and listen to artists like Juice WRLD, Trippie Redd, and Lil Peep all the time.
I’ve been trying to ease people into songs like “Why” over here. I’m not sure if everyone is ready for those vibes yet.
What inspired that song?
Rema: Back when I was going through hard times in Benin, I liked this cool girl who came from a rich background. I didn’t have much money, and when I texted her she wouldn’t reply.
But she started to text me for a little and eventually hurt me. One day I was in the studio and saw her pic and I just had to record a song.
My greatest inspiration is emotions, and I told the producer give me a beat for this girl who rejected me. But there’s no beef. I just had never felt rejection like that before.
Do you find relationships harder as your fame quickly grows?
Rema: It’s hard to know who’s being real. When a lot of artists get girls, they like to play with a whole bunch of them and let the fame go to their head.
But I’m not a person who would ever use my fame. I love girls and really respect all of them so much.
I want to find the right one to build a relationship with; I’ve never had one.
But I know what it feels like to be rejected, so I would never want to play with someone emotionally.
How does your mom feel about your fame?
Rema: Last year, when I was recording, my mom kept telling me to come back to Benin. I didn’t have any music out, so she was like, » “Boy what are you doing in Lagos, come home and go to school.” I was just like, » “Mom, hold on, let me just release this song.” When my EP dropped she was like, “This is nice,” and then she saw the charts and was like, “Oooo.”
But my mom is my motivation. She knows I never come home with bad news. Everything I do is successful.
Do you think it’s important for the kids in your generation to witness your success and use it as motivation?
Rema: Yes. I’m trying my best not to mess up—that’s why I don’t drink or smoke or anything.
I want the youth to know that if you put your heart and passion into something, it’s possible to make it out here.
Why do you think your generation in Nigeria is hopeful?
Rema: Hope is all we have. Right now the government is stressing the whole country and not listening to the youths.
It’s been hard for the youths all these years, and they need to know that it is possible to become doctors or presidents, or make music.
There are no job opportunities for us in this country, the government only cares about them when they need votes. We’re constantly used.
Is that why it’s so important for you to represent Nigeria no matter what?
Rema: It’s why whenever I make vibes it’s a mix of my spirit and where I’m from.
This was always the plan I had for myself, but I wasn’t sure if God had the same plans.
And I thank God every day that he does. I want to make our sound even more global, and I want to make Nigeria even more familiar with our trap scene, which is so good.
And I want to give hope to my young teenagers back in the city who think they have to abandon their sound to make it.
Give me a beat, give me a sound, I can do anything—and so can my youths in Nigeria.
How Do You Feel About That Tete Á Tete With Rema!? let’s get your contributions and comments….