Rema Rave & Roses Mavin Records
When looking at the global ascent of Afrobeats, it’s hard to believe that 2020 was just two years ago. That was the year the cultural movement truly took off internationally, establishing its renowned figureheads: WizKid, Burna Boy, Davido, Amaarae, to name a few. It was also the year that a 17-year-old Rema introduced himself to the world. The Nigerian singer and rapper went viral with the mellowly rhythmic Dumebi – which is currently sitting at over 57 million streams – and was hailed as the genre’s prodigious wonderkid. But he’s kept it relatively low-key since this explosive start, which raises the question: has he missed his moment?
His debut album, Rave & Roses, is sure to quash any doubts. Opening track Divine is an accomplished start to proceedings, as Rema’s vocals confidently glide over trap hi-hats and atmospheric production that showcases a talent far beyond his 21 years. Jo takes on a similar approach, its vocal layering exhibiting a fuller sound and propensity for experimentation. The single Soundgasm is a guitar-led slow burner that evokes its title: intimate, expertly crafted and endlessly satisfying.
To ensure maximum impact, there are some tactical collaborations, all with varying degrees of success. For the US audience, it’s Chris Brown’s questionable feature on Time N Affection and Atlanta rapper 6LACK on Hold Me. The former’s controversial yet sustained popularity in the US seems to be a driving factor here, although Brown’s supposed star power falls flat – his one-dimensional R&B vocals lost in the syncopated beat. Repping the UK is AJ Tracey on FYN, his charismatic west London cadence in full flight over jazz-influenced instrumentation. But the album’s most successful international collaboration is with French singer Yseult on Wine. Singing in her native language, Yseult’s soaring melodies are the perfect pairing for Rema’s sticky vocals, both effortlessly flowing over a slow dancehall track.
Rave & Roses is an accomplished debut album with broad commercial appeal and a creative deftness that transcends Rema’s age and experience. It’s a debut that not only catapults him into the ranks of Afrobeats’ biggest names, but also reveals a global star coming alive.