REMA: Nigeria's Next Up

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Photos by Joseph “Jinius” Babalola

LET'S GET IT STARTED off with a bang. Standing 5 foot 10, at only 20 years old and out of Benin City, Nigeria, the first ever artist featured on The Overlap is budding superstar Rema. He hasn’t even been in the game for 3 full years but this dude is already legit and is someone you’re gonna want to keep your eyes on. Images of a younger WizKid come to mind when you hear some of his shit, but he’s so much more than “the next *insert Afrobeats artist here*.” Yea, he’s got music that’s without a doubt sourced straight from an Afrobeats beat pack, but like so many young artists worldwide, he’s found a way to uniquely blend in influences from all different genres.

Take Iron Man, the first track off his 2019 namesake EP. It’s got the drums found in so many Afrobeats songs, but the rest of the beat? Could be from many places throughout the world and yet it's not exactly from anywhere specific. It’s got some melodic trap in it but also mixes in these slowed down steel drums that send your mind racing to a Caribbean night. But then he’ll go and switch it up completely on you for the very next song, Why, hopping on a beat that might as well have been made for Iann Dior or 24kGoldn.

Photography by ___tse

If only one thing’s true about Rema, it’s that he makes music that’s current to the younger generation. Too bold to call him the next The Kid Laroi? Nah, I don’t think so. Like Laroi, he’s got this different, kinda nasally voice that fits a ton of different styles. He can either slow it down or just go in and body a track. And just like Laroi, his relationships with women are a big focus in the songs he makes. Dude hits all sides of the spectrum too. Mad as hell the person you into doesn’t feel the same? Both Boulevard and Why are what you need in your life. Feeling in love and all you want is to let that special someone know how they make you feel? Ginger Me got your back.

That’s all nice, but does it mean he’s gonna be a superstar? Nah, course not. But the guy’s got nearly 2 million IG followers and a nice little cosign from Akon so he’s clearly been doing something right. Add in songs alongside Becky G, Tory Lanez, 6lack, and KAYTANADA and his star potential becomes a little clearer. But what might really make him pop? He supposedly got the holy grail of artist endorsements: the Drake cosign. I know I just spent half this article saying how Rema isn’t just Afrobeats, but remember the last time Drake put out a song with an Afrobeats artist? Just something light like One Dance. It’s not fair to expect this rumored song to be as big as One Dance was, but if it’s even a third as big as that song, man you’ll be hearing Rema’s name for a minute… which you should be anyway. The kid is for real and I can’t wait to hear what he cooks up next, that Drake feature would just be an added bonus.

PERSONAL FAVORITES Ginger Me, Peace of Mind, Simple Things (with Tory Lanez), Fame, Love in the Morning

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