Rema has won the race for the perfect audio signature. Forget “Cardo got wings”, forget “I love Chris Rich”, forget “Mustard on the beat, hoe”; Rema’s calling card is simple and delightful: “another banger”. In an age when even memes bear watermarks, you may as well embrace the production stamp as a two-second expression space that’s here to stay. Rema’s impish trademark is so effortlessly rhythmic, so memorable and so often a precursor of imminent joy that if your lips don’t move after hearing its first three syllables, it’s probably because your jaw has been wired shut.
Bangers are the order of the day on Rema’s debut album, ‘Rave & Roses’, which follows three years of buildup; in which the Benin City boy wonder has appeared on Barack Obama’s yearly playlist, signed to African powerhouse Mavin Records and worked with everyone from Virgil Abloh to Skepta to FKA twigs.
When he emerged, some were sceptical of Rema, too at odds with the Afrobeats sound du jour. “I learned that if I want to impress someone I have to do what they like plus what I like,” Rema told Pitchfork in 2019. It’s probably a stretch to say he has an eye on impressing club heads, but a similar attitude might explain his coining of a new genre to describe his first album. He’s calling it Afrorave; emphasising the danceability of not just his music, but a range of pop sounds coming out of Nigeria.