A destiny child– there’s always been something special about Rema. Right from the off of his career, confidence, self belief and a realisation of self-worth have remained his mantle.
Artists struggle to lustre without those qualities, and end up not making authentic music because of fear of acceptance, backlash, and being misunderstood.
Aware of his gifts, zealous, and committed to touching the sky, Rema referred to himself as “the future” on stage at the 2019 Headies Award– prophetic words or arrogance, the 21-year-old has dominated with every initiative that’s been handed to him.
In the early days of his career, people compared his vocals and style to Wizkid, especially after the release of his smash hit “Dumebi.” But fastforward a few years and the Mavin Record’s flag bearer has buried those cofounds, almost inventing his own genre of music influenced by many sounds including trap, reggae, and the enchanting soundtracks from Bollywood movies.
Now the wait is over, and the goods have been delivered- Rave & Roses: a 16-track list play centred on themes of love, addiction, and destiny, with an ensemble cast that includes American singer 6LACK, British rapper AJ Tracey and French vocalist Yseult.
Keep reading as we give you an overview of Rave & Roses – one song at a time.
“Divine” is the opening track on Rave & Roses. It’s typically a song about Rema’s birth, the tragedy of losing his dad and brother, and his fated transcendence to the top of African music. Born Divine Ikubor to Benin parents, Rema oozes the same confidence and grandiose that have epitomised his music and rise to superstardom. He also highlights the significance that names can have in the life of an African child.
“Hold Me” (Rema and 6LACK)
“Hold Me” is a typical Rema love song. It’s a special record describing a mystery girl whose only desire is love and attention, not the fancy perks that come with dating a wealthy and famous man. Speaking to Apple Music, he said about the record: “She just wants to hold me down and be that real one for me. So, the title represents feeling safe with this woman. That’s what every guy looks for: those quiet moments where you feel safe in this crazy world. I did this song with 6LACK and it’s a masterpiece.”
“Dirty” is the third record on Rave & Roses. Rema’s soft and silky vocals flow over a sonic blend of high-life and jazz, with the same undertone and raciness as in 2021’s “Soundgasm,” which has also been included in the album.
“Calm Down” is already a hit record in Nigeria. There are no strings attached to the meaning of the record, with Rema confirming to Apple Music it was merely the product of a freestlye about a girl he met in the club, with a beat from Andre Vibez.
Released in 2021 as one of the flagship singles of the project, “Soundgasm” remains shinny with Rema’s ever enthralling vocals.
“Time N Affection” (Rema and Chris Brown)
Fans where excited when images of Rema and Chris Brown sharing the same studio surfaced the internet. The product of that link-up of course, is “Time N Affection,” a fine fusion of New York-style pop and Afropop, thanks to Chris Brown’s lush flow and passionate connection with Afrobeats.
“Jo” is merely one of Rave & Roses’ feel-good song. Its typical Afropop tune makes it a proper celebration of African music, with Rema namedropping a few popular African woman-celebrities. “Jo” is Yoruba word for dance, and this is exactly the kind of song that enchants the body into those uncontrollable rhythmic movements.
With echoes of addiction, Rema’s romantic adventure peaks on “Mara,” right from ‘Hold Me’ to ‘Dirty’ to ‘Mara’ and ‘Love,’ which is the next song on the album. The lyrics are weightier than in the previous songs but Rema maintains his alluring vocal range.
“Love” continues the Rave & Roses’ Afrocentric-romance chronicle. With a slightly higher pitch, Rema raves about a love interest over a trap-like beat.
This particular record would mean a lot to Rema– for the Mavin Record’s star, trapping had always been his first calling. His Souncloud page is littered with trap recordings, and being able to include “Addicted” on Rave & Roses would have been a personal conquest. But this is not your regular trap song, it’s Travis Scott level; like Kanye turning Daft Punk’s electronic samples into symphonies. “Addicted” is rock star music, and will most definitely enlarge Rave & Roses and Rema’s global appeal.
“Are You There”
On “Are You There,” Rema examines certain societal dynamics, including politics and the situation of his country’s leadership, religion, and the propensity for people to judge you and criticize you when you’re famous. It’s way more conscious than the other songs on the album, but Rema still manages to sprinkle fun all over it.
“FYN” (Rema and AJ Tracey)
Rema and British rappr AJ Tracey’s “FYN” is an acronym for Fresh Young N**a. At only 21 and barely 4 years into his career, Rema has enjoyed unprecedented success. That success comes with deep pockets and high purchasing power of course. And after being born into a relatively average family in Benin city, Rema can now boast of being able to afford the things he could only dream of.
In his own words, “‘Oroma Baby’ is a jam. It’s just a dance record that still covers the term ‘love’ and how it is attached to the ‘Roses’ side of the album.” That’s exactly what “Oroma Baby” is about.
“Carry” is another vain record that will probably inspire various viral dance videos on social media. It’s non-stop rhythm coupled with Rema’s racy lyrics make it a typical Afrobeats club banger.
“Wine” (Rema and Yesult)
Once again, Rave & Roses reaches another tipping point before its closure. “Wine,” featuring Yseult is a cross-border song that will appeal to both Rema’s African and European fans, as he combines with Yseult to body London’s beautifully laid beat.
It’s not just Rema’s lustrous vocals or the brilliance of London, Vibez and the rest of the producers and contributors on Rave & Roses that make it a great experience, there had been ingenuity written all over the album sequencing. However, that excellence ended with “Runaway,” which many critics would describe as tumbling the experience. It’s a record that maybe should have come earlier, with Rema reminding listeners about his past insecurities with keeping a woman or missing out on love. Nonetheless, the record in itself caps a memorable journey of almost an hour, and certainly Rema fans should be proud of this album. In all its hype and prophesied glory, it was well worth the wait.