On Friday, October 4, 2019, Nigerian rave-of-the-moment, Rema released another 4-track EP, ‘Bad Commando.’
A listening party was held a night prior to its release. Rema had been working on the EP for a few weeks. It is his third in six months. The first two EPs were Rema EP and Rema Freestyles EP.
MAVIN is a smart label that recognizes what it has on its hands - raw gold and dollar signs.
Rema EP was billed to be his introduction into the Nigerian soundscape/mainstream. It led to astronomical success – more than Jonzing/MAVIN ever anticipated. Although the EP had a trap song and sonically experimental sounds, its songs were still sounds that tied into the Nigerian soundscape - it thrived. What came next was Rema Freestyles EP.
It was a package of Rema’s four best trademark shotgun seat freestyles – before ‘This Fame’ and ski masks. Again, it garnered a niche following, but without a defining hit. However, one could tell that the Jonzing/MAVIN motive wasn’t necessarily to get a hit from the EP – not for lack of desire though. They were experimenting and building Rema’s brand.
They know the artist he is. They know that limiting him to afrobeats is doing both themselves and the artist a disservice. The branding continued with carefully selected shows and concerts where he was adored by his fellow generation zers across Nigerian schools.
More importantly, Rema has also not been a featured artist on any external song – that’s meticulous branding. Amidst all these, OVO happened and Oliver El-Khatib sent Rema a hoodie. Universal Music Group had gotten involved at this point.
A while later, Former American President, Barack Obama named Rema’s ‘Iron Man’ on his summer playlist. The brand got bigger, so did the reach and awareness. Rema ties into the what America would love in a potential cross-over 19-year-old; avant-garde fashion choices, an expansive sonic palette and versatility.
This time, it comes with rudimentary sounds capable of making a young artist attractive to a larger audience. It is Rema’s most experimental project yet. It is also risqué. Produced by OVO’s Oliver El-Khatib, 1Mind, Altims and Hunter, genres include, latin pop, trap, synth pop/hi-life and trap.
Interestingly, the album version of Bad Commando EP is also unavailable in Nigeria via his SoundCloud page. It means one thing, the process is moving out.
‘Bad Commando’ is a latin pop song with a seriously beautiful video, heavy on aptly utilized aesthetics. The vocal deliveries again see Rema on his ‘Indian wave,’ as we heard on ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Corny.’ Lyrically, Rema talks about his arrival into fame alongside its perils and pluses.
‘Lady’ is a sonic enigma. It’s a mix of DJ Maphorisa-esque afro-house and synth pop. Lyrically, it sounds like a mix of classic hi-life song from Oliver De Coq and Wizkid-esque adlibs that adulates a woman. Rema celebrates the woman and her body that makes him beam like the light everytime he sees her.
‘Rewind,’ is another sonic enigma. The bass guitar is very latin. The underlying drums seem a mix of latinx and native American origins - something from a band like Country Comfort. But lyrically, this song is just a bad idea. Rema rigmaroles between socio-political chatter and how a woman moves like a tornado.
‘Spaceship Flores’ is easily the best song on this EP. It sounds like something XXXTentacion could have done. Coincidentally, X also had a song calls, ‘Jocelyn Flores.’ However, Rema finds a pop ting to this music. Oh, this is addictive. Rema is special.
This EP is very – maybe too – experimental. It’s understandable why it had to be experimental, but it’s an average EP. By Rema’s lofty standards over the past two EPs, Bad Commando is a weak project. The beats are good and fresh, but they’re simply not resonant. Heavy melodies are simply missing from songs like ‘Lady’ and ‘Rewind.’
Experimentation is good, but the music shouldn't suffer due to experimentation. There has to be a balance - one shouldn't outweigh the other. When one outweighs the other, the purpose suffers. Experimentation should make the music better, not take from it. Sadly, experimentation made the music suffer on this EP.
However, with Rema’s outrageous growth, something tells this rapper that ‘Lady’ could take off. He also thinks Jonzing/Mavin recognizes that. His evidence is how Rema and Crayon have been pushed. First videos/singles off their respective debut EPs are not the biggest hits from both EPs. This is meticulous marketing by Mavin. Impressive, really.
That said, Rema needs to stop with the expletives and excessive dependence on adlibs. It’s time to leave the ‘krikata’ and ‘winini wanana’ rhythms for real words and real stories. If it means getting external songwriters for him, so be it. Asides ‘Spaceship Flores,’ Bad Commando is near-terrible lyrically.
While we seldom cared about terrible lyrics on gbedu three years ago, times have changed. You either have content or you risk weak singles like Wizkid is harshly finding out.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Themes and Content: 0.9/2
Enjoyability, Cohesion and Satisfaction: 1/2