On March 2, 2020, Nigerian singer, Rema appeared on Capital Xtra and spoke extensively with Manny Norte. The conversation was very expansive and detailed that Norte noted that, "You've (Rema has) been on this earth before."
Norte was alluding to the depth of Rema's thoughts and his confidence as a person. During the conversation, Rema told Norte about his music, his family, his plans and his love life. Here are five talking points from the interview;
1) Rema talks about losing his dad and brother
Before Rema finally signed to MAVIN, he had been with the label for about 18 months prior to that. But before that 18 month spell, Rema was a teenager who lost his dad and older brother within a short time of each other and was under pressure to raise money for his mother.
At the age of 17, he went to work on a beach in Ghana and bought his mom a car. Soon after, he made a freestyle to D'Prince's 'Gucci Gang' and he came on MAVIN/Jonzing's radar. Things have not been the same since.
On losing his dad and brother, Rema says, "At some point things got hard and I had to man up.... I had to work hard because I lost my brother and my dad... I had to work hard." During the chat, Rema says hard work got him in shape and that he never goes to the gym. Rema also called his mother a, "great mom."
2) Why Rema makes music for the world
A few days ago, Pulse Nigeria wrote an opinion piece about how MAVIN is positioning Rema for global domination. Musically, he has been experimenting with a lot of sounds and he alluded to it in this interview, "I like to explore. I don't like going into the studio with this sense of giving the people what they expect. I just want to explore my spirituality and sound as a whole.
"I tend to mix a whole bunch of cultures into one sound to make it have an impact in multiple zones across the world... I want to make the whole world dance. I'm not just doing it for Africa, I'm taking Africa along with me and sharing it to the world. Sometimes, people say I don't sound 'Afrobeats,' but it has a taste of afrobeats in word, beat or flow..."
3) Making Dumebi
In March 2019, Rema released 'Dumebi' as part of his self-titled debut EP. The song took off and became a hit. On making the song, Rema described how he was recording in August 2018 when he met producer, Ozedikus. The producer was frustrated by how nobody was picking up the beat that eventually became, 'Dumebi.'
Rema then collected the beat and asked Ozedikus to give him a day with it. Rema took the beat away and recorded on it. That time, he didn't write, but only 'vibed' to the beat via a freestyle and during a session. With limited studio time, he wanted to come back to the incoherent parts the next day to put actual words in.
While he was playing the song for Ozedikus, MAVIN artist and Jonzing Head Honcho, D'Prince walked in and told Rema to leave the song in its original state, with the mumbling. The song was released that way and it became a hit. On the song, Rema says, "In the world, certain things don't make sense till you make them make sense."
4) Getting into India and Latin pop
On songs like 'Bad Commando,' 'Corny' and 'Iron Man,' Rema had very hindu influences. But then, he also made a remix to 'Dumebi' with Becky G who sang her verse in Spanish. His new single, 'Beamer' has obvious dancehall and latin-pop influences.
While speaking on the thought behind a 'Dumebi (Remix)' with Becky G, Rema says, "I wanted more impact in the Latin-pop zone. I saw the rest of the world was rocking with it (Dumebi)... I wanted to get in that zone and I will get in that zone more this year. Even in the Indian zone... some people say I sound Arabian and Indian...
"This Afrobeats, we can take it to every part of the world. It's time to globalize Afrobeats just like Hip-Hop did. It's left for me and my generation..."
Rema also revealed that he was shocked by the reception he received in London, England and Paris, France.
5) Making new singles, 'Beamer' and 'Rainbow'
Rema was in Los Angeles, California when a friend told introduced him to Rvssian - the Jamaican producer whom Rema featured on 'Beamer.' When Rvssian got into the studio and played beats, Rema was confused.
"He's (Rvssian is) a great guy, I was confused because he had some many beats... We made two songs that day, but I made 'Beamer' last. I spent a lot of hours and even Rvssian left, " Rema says.
On making 'Rainbow,' Rema says, "I made 'Why' that day - shout-out to Divvy the producer. 'Why' is a song about heartbreak. It made me really sad that day, so I asked Divvy to give me something upbeat to get excited by. So, I started making something about fast cars, girls and cool kid-stuff. I liked it and D'Prince and I started bumping to it."
During the interview, Rema also says that he doesn't drink or smoke, that he hates posting on social media, that he hates taking selfies and that he would like to get into fashion. Rema says he would rather post his music on social media that a gold chain or precious possession. To him, it's easy to get addicted to likes and comments on social media.
You can watch the full interview below;