Looking for an artist who is versatile and whose songs always feature unique, unconventional melodies?
A young African singer and rapper, Rema — born Divine Ikubor — is the perfect blend of modern hip-hop and rap with a hint of African flair.
Hailing from Benin City, Edo State Nigeria, the young artist’s childhood was anything but easy. At just eight years old, his father was shot, thrusting his family into a life of poverty. Just seven years later, at the age of fifteen, he lost his older brother to a surgery gone wrong. Seeking a way to escape his sorrow, he turned to music and never looked back.
While his name may be relatively new to American listeners, Rema has been in the spotlight for a few years. He first got his start in 2018 when he posted a freestyle to fellow Nigerian artist D’Prince’s track, “Gucci Gang.” His cover went viral and caught the attention of D’Prince himself who offered the then seventeen-year-old a record deal. Just a year later, the young musician released his debut EP, “Rema,” which remained number one on Apple Music Nigeria for months, making him a star in his home country.
His first glimpse at international stardom came in 2019 with the release of his song “Iron Man,” which amassed over 32 million Spotify streams and even made it onto former President Barack Obama’s 2019 summer playlist.
Unlike most artists, Rema refuses to limit himself to any specific genre, simply releasing music that he enjoys. This versatility is a key part of what makes listening to his music so exciting. Rema’s music is a combination of traditional African beats with influences from Arabian, Indian and American music, a style he has affectionately dubbed ‘Afrorave.’
Songs like “Time N Affection” and “FYN” feature mellow, synthetic beats that sound wavy and transcendent — almost as if they are from another world entirely. “Iron Man,” is reminiscent of traditional Bollywood music, while “Dumebi” weaves Rema’s native languages of Edo and Yoruba into its lyrics. Records such as “Rainbow” and “American Love” are upbeat trap songs with more aggressive tempos that mimic the styles of American rappers such as Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert.
As one of the faces of Nigerian pop, Rema is also part of a movement that is bringing African music to the West.
Rema’s latest single “Calm Down” went viral on the popular platform Tik Tok and soared to number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. This year, he is also set to embark on a global tour, kicking off Feb. 10 in Dubai.
In his own words, he is confident that he can become an international icon. “From the first day I started working on my EP, I knew it was different,” he told Dazed Magazine. “I knew that my music was not going to be restricted to any boundary – it’s a global sound.”