When he dropped the original version of “Calm Down” as the second single from his debut solo LP, Rave and Roses in February 2022, the Nigerian youngster, Divine Ikubor, (Rema) never thought the song would launch him to global stardom.
The traction on YouTube started locally like any other song but today, Calm Down video has over 60million views and it is still growing. It is growing because of a new dimension to the Love lyrics that had suddenly turned political.
Rema’s collaboration with an American songstress and actor Selena Gomez in 2022 broke the music roof when Calm Down remix notched its first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 74.
His position on the Billboard grew steadily to 10 as 2022 grew older. However in 2023, calm down hit a spike when a group of five Iranian ladies defied the country’s law to publicly dance to this Afro beats, a video that went viral.
Of course it landed the ladies in Iranian Morality police cell where they made confession and were released after two days. But surprisingly, these ladies whereabouts after their release had become a source of worry to the music world.
Public dance is prohibited in Iran and to the authorities, the ladies act without headscarves is outright defiance that must pass through the legal and moral process with appropriate penalty.
The fear for these ladies goes beyond persecution but their eradication by the Iranian authority now that no one could trace their whereabouts. This is a government that had once killed women over protest against some of its anti-woman laws.
Rema may have released a normal love song but the release and public dance of a dance video by the Iranian ladies was intentional as it was done on March 8, International Women’s Day.
The ladies video speaks about freedom and human rights in the face of Iranian dictatorial policy and turned Rema’s song to a political piece overnight.
Rema is a 22-year-old Benin City, Nigeria, native (real name: Divine Ikubor) who dropped the original version of the song in February 2022 as the second single from his debut solo LP, Rave & Roses. The remix with Gomez arrived August 26, and that version’s official video premiered September 7, 2022.
Since then Calm down has been growing bigger and louder.
To Rema who took to his Instagram page as soon as he learnt that the Iranian ladies had been arrested, the women are only seeking a better world.
As he put it, “To all the women who are fighting for a better world, I’m inspired by you, I sing for you and I dream with you.”
Divine Ikubor, born May 1, 2000 and known professionally as Rema, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and rapper.
He rose to stardom after releasing the song “Dumebi”. In 2019, he signed a record deal with Jonzing World, a subsidiary of Mavin Records.
According to Wikipedia, Divine Ikubor was born into a Christian family in Benin City. He grew up singing and rapping while he was in secondary school. He attended his primary and secondary school education at Ighile Group of Schools, Edo State. His father and elder brother are deceased, and Rema is left to look after his mother.
He started his music career in churches with Alpha P.
In 2018 Rema posted a viral freestyle on Instagram to D’Prince’s track “Gucci Gang”. The post caught the attention of D’Prince who flew him to Lagos to offer a record deal to the young talent. Rema signed a record deal with D’Prince’s Jonzing World, a subsidiary of Mavin Records owned by record producer Don Jazzy, in 2019.
He went on to release his self-titled debut EP “Rema” in 2019, which peaked at number 1 on Apple Music Nigeria.
On 21 May 2019, Jonzing World, and Mavins released the music video of “Dumebi”, a major breakout song from his self-titled EP, featuring a cameo appearance from Diana Eneje.
The video was directed by Ademola Falomo and currently has 60 million views on YouTube. Later that summer, in 2019, one of his other most popular songs from the EP gained more popularity when it was placed on former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama’s summer playlist.
In May 2021, Rema announced he will be calling his sound “Afrorave”, 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.
In September 2021, Rema was unveiled as a brand ambassador for the popular soft drink Pepsi alongside his label mate Ayra Starr.
On 7 November 2022, Rema received an award on stage during his London concert as his songs achieved 1 billion streams worldwide.
After Rema signed a record deal with Jonzing World in 2019, he released his debut EP Rema. After two more EPs, he released his debut album Rave & Roses on 25 March 2022.
The album includes 16 tracks and features from 6lack, Chris Brown, AJ Tracey, and Yseult. The album charted 10 songs on the US Billboard Afrobeats Chart following its debut week.
His single “Calm Down”, including a sample from fellow Nigerian artist Crayon’s track “So Fine”,then began charting five months after its official release.
It then became the most-viewed Afrobeats video on Youtube. On August 26, 2022, he released a remix of his song “Calm Down” with Selena Gomez, which debuted at number 91 on Billboard Hot 100.
On February 2023, Rema received the Digital Artist of the Year award at the Soundcity MVP Awards which were held at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos.
On 19 October 2019, Rema won Next Rated and was nominated for Viewer’s Choice at the 13th edition of the Headies. On 12 January 2020, he received the Soundcity MVP Awards for the best new artist. On 15 June 2020, Rema was nominated as Best Viewers Choice: International Act on the 2020 BET Awards.
He was nominated on the awards alongside Burna Boy and Wizkid, they were the only Nigerian artists nominated for the awards edition of 2020. Rema’s track Woman reached number fifteen on World Digital Song Sales.
Additional reports from Wikipedia
By Kunle Awosiyan