On Friday, March 22, 2019, Nigerian super-Producer, Don Jazzy announced the signing of another Mavin. The act was later revealed to be Rema, an 18-year-old artist. In the social media post which Don Jazzy used to make the announcement, he says,”Rema is a super talented young artist I have no doubt is going to be the future of Afrobeats.”
A few days later, on Monday, March 25, 2019, Rema released ‘Rema EP‘ which contains four cohesive and well-produced songs that basically appeal to different sub-demographics of mainstream Nigerian music and showcases his obvious talent – the presumed reason why a powerhouse like Mavin records would ever have gotten involved.
On the opening track to the EP, ‘Iron Man,’ one immediately understands the afrolife/afrobeats school that birthed the 18-year-old Rema.
Although lyrically, the song rings from generic to bland, it gets salvaged by commendable vocal manipulations that mimics the atypical Indian song, in line with the major string on the song and an equally commendable beat.
While the song is not lyrically informative, and tells nothing new than the very familiar ‘ratchet love stories’ that Nigerian commercial/dance music has come to be known for, one understands that Rema has to make something to announce himself to the market.
But then, when ‘Why‘ comes on with a typical generation X/Soundcloud generation music; trap-infused emo/cloud music from the staple of XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, Paris, Juice WRLD, but more like Makonnen, I get blown away because I did not see it coming.
It showcases an artist with adaptable talent, recognized by the team behind him that he could make much more than basic dance music. Although, ‘Why‘ tells another generic love story, this shortcoming is less noticeable that it was on ‘Iron Man.’
Rema delivered on ‘Why‘ and I suspect that other listeners will have similar sentiments to mine. One hopes it gets a video.
By the time it gets to the ‘Dumebi,’ one might not be able to help forgetting the yearning for ‘content’ as the song is filled with vibes to this beautiful beat and well-timed vocal cadences/flow by Rema whose technique is admirable.
The final track, ‘Corny‘ creatively falls slightly short of ‘Why‘ and ‘Dumebi,’ but sonically, it’s still several cuts ahead of ‘Iron Man.
It is obvious there’s a good songwriter behind a song like, ‘Why‘ that’s not pushing his creative boundaries as much as he should, but sometimes, pushing artistic boundaries might prove risky in a market that largely loves its party jams.
One thing is for sure though, something made Rema make ‘Why,‘ a standout on Rema EP. This album excels on cohesion, a tracklist that enabled transcendence and segues, good production and experimentation (‘Why’ as the pinnacle), but struggles to with good lyricism, storytelling and unnecessary or sometimes excessive rhythmic chants of ‘hmmmm‘ or ‘pon pon pon.’
Some fast listeners could be also easily put off by the opening track.
What then can a young talented act like Rema do? One hopes he can balance out his act by merging something for the radio which brings in money with something to improve and help his talent evolve – especially with the gaze of influential music minds from the global bigwigs increasingly getting focused on Africa.
Once one can overlook the very forgivable weaknesses of ‘Rema EP,’ it is a quite enjoyable listen, definitely aided by its brevity.
Except the first track, the album delivers on what it was meant to be. However, this strategy might not always be sufficient to make a good project. This time though, it will do just fine.
3-Worth Checking Out