Rema is burning up social media feeds with his Calm Down India Tour, that kicks off on Friday The 23-year-old Afro-Rave singer will take the stage in Delhi on May 12, in Mumbai on May 13 and in Hyderabad on May 14. Apart from his own songs, insiders say he will also be crooning Oscar-winning track Naatu Naatu. It's his first time in India, and he's excited to say the least. “I have heard a lot about Indian culture. I used to see my sister watch Zee TV and all of that music from India,” he told FPJ.
What sets Rema apart from other artists in the Afrobeats genre is his ability to blend different styles and sounds. His music incorporates elements of hip-hop, trap, and Afro-fusion, creating a unique and infectious sound. His lyrics are also notable for their honesty and vulnerability, touching on themes of love, heartbreak, and personal growth.
Tickets for his concerts are selling fast, but what is it about Rema that makes him so special? To understand this, we need to look at his background and the circumstances that have shaped his music. Rema was born and raised as Divine Ikubor in Benin City, Nigeria. Growing up, he was exposed to a wide variety of music, from traditional African rhythms to Western pop and hip-hop. He began singing at a young age and quickly developed a passion for music. Despite his natural talent, Rema faced many challenges.
“I was into music (as a child) for a while then I stopped because I needed to feed my family and then life just kept happening and I lost some people in my family that made my life slow and I couldn’t find myself at that time but yes, music was my best therapy,” he says. He struggled to gain recognition in a crowded and competitive music scene but he refused to give up. Instead, he worked tirelessly to perfect his craft and develop a unique sound. Eventually, his hard work paid off.
In 2019, he was discovered by the record label Mavin Records and signed a contract. His debut EP, titled 'Rema,' was released soon after, and it was an instant success. The same year, one of his songs from the EP gained more popularity when it was placed on former US president Barack Obama's summer playlist. In May the same year, Rema announced he will be calling his sound “Afro-Rave”, a subgenre of Afrobeats with influences of Arabian and Indian music which has led to him having one of the strongest fanbases in the country known as Ravers.
At just 23 years of age, he is already a global pop sensation with a viral collab with American popstar Selena Gomez. Ask him how a young boy from Nigeria pulled it off, and he says, “I’ve been able to create this much and this diversity because of my perception of African music. I try to be real in communicating my emotions and I put most of the emotions in melody. That’s brought me to this stage in life.”
Rema feels the new generation of Afrobeats musicians are more confident. They have “more stance” because everyone has brought their evolving ideas to the table of Afrobeats. What is heartening is that he sees himself as a bridge for African music. “Everywhere I go, I take the flag with me. I make sure I represent Benin City, that I represent Nigeria, and most especially Africa. Making it this big and coming out here and glorifying myself without glorifying where I came from is prideful and empty,” he says about his roots.
His restless energy spills into his fashion choices; always colourful and vibrant. “I could change my clothes five times a day. It’s just all about my mood. I won’t say I get it right all the time, though,” says the Afro-Rave singer. He will be getting it right onstage, however. Celebrity designer Manish Malhotra is designing his stage costumes for this tour. The ensemble will belong to Malhotra’s non-binary, androgynous collection called ‘Diffuse 2.0’. Expect the singer to sport gaming-inspired prints, a high-octane colour palette of stark blacks, electric purples, shocking neons in unconventional constructs.
Despite his mainstream success and globetrotting schedule, the singer meditates often and calls himself “a big introvert”. He says, “I pray a lot. I’m a big introvert. So, most times I’m alone, I just meditate. I can hardly be influenced.” Even his advice for young fans is oddly spiritual: “No matter how small you are, you can still influence someone big and that shows how much power you have.”
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