It is impossible not to be inspired by Nigeria’s new Afrobeats generation. They have risen on the courage and chutzpah of the previous generation which includes the likes of 2face, Psquare, Freestyle (now Mista Styles), Sasha, Ruggedman, the Remedies, Bouqui and others, and they deserve credit for seizing the moment, casting out convention, and leaning in.
While major attention is fixed on the likes of Davido, the iconoclastic Burna Boy, the fearless Wizkid, and the brilliant Tems, I believe it is their younger sibling, Divine ‘Rema’ Ikubor, that fully captures the moment and its limitless potential and its range of possibilities.
People often think Nigerian creatives, especially its Afrobeats clan, need to be a certain way: gregarious, combative, other-focused. People think they have to surround themselves with activity and keep churning ‘content’. People expect them to stoke rivalries, rile up their base, and thump their chests.
However, Rema remained as himself: silent, focused and ferocious. I remember watching a raft of his interviews two years ago and thinking: This is the one who will remain, who will outlast and who will be unforgettable.
The major reason for his success is of course talent and hard work. But talent is not scarce in Nigeria, and, on average, everyone works work very hard. So I think the deeper reason for his success is his sense of inner-directedness. He doesn’t refer to anyone but himself. He is certain about who he is, what he is capable of and how far he can go.
His rise, as I have observed, is not driven by fear or competition. It is driven by a deep understanding that he has a unique contribution to the world, and he alone can make that contribution so there is no need to pay attention to what anyone else is doing.
It may seem odd to draw this comparison, but it’s not if you’ve been paying attention to him: Rema is what spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra referred to as ‘self-referential’ three decades ago. This is somewhat unusual because Rema is a staunch member of Gen Z. Without judgment, it is a generation that is convinced that it must always be visible, always be heard and that the only game that counts is hustle and grind. Of course, the roots of this energy come from millennials, so no one should be too quick to get on their high horse.
But, remarkably, Rema has eschewed all of that to succeed in his own way, listen to his own voice, pay attention to his own spirit, and dance to his own tune, earning the African song with one billion streams on Spotify with “Calm Down.”
He is an icon and, almost inevitably, will end up becoming a legend. Because, you see, even Grammy-award-winning stars come and go, raves end, and trends expire, but legends? They matter for eternity. Those who have their eyes on the eternal and who see beyond the fickle here and now end up truly mattering. Rema teaches us that it never goes out of style to know oneself, to be oneself fully, and to walk one’s path, however lonely. In this way, he is a voice – beyond the music – crying in the wilderness, a prophet speaking softly to his generation and age, telling them to calm down. In a time of great spiritual, emotional, and mental health crises, one can only hope that people will listen.
Watch the excerpt here: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1Tig45NDnW/
#WithChude is a network of media products across TV, Film and podcasts telling stories that enable and strengthen the mind, the heart, and the spirit. The weekly interviews are widely syndicated across terrestrial television and social media platforms reaching an average of 8 million people weekly – positioning it as the most watched and most syndicated weekly talk show (digital + traditional) in the region. It has become a safe space for guests to talk about things publicly for the first time. Actor Joke Silva revealed that her husband Olu Jacobs was dealing with dementia with Lewy body for the first time on the show, and producer Kemi Afolabi opened up about her experience dealing with Lupus on #WithChude. That month, Lupus and Kemi Afolabi were among the top Google Nigeria searches. The interviews have been featured everywhere, from the BBC to the New York Times. The documentary and travelogue series #ChudeExplains has tackled issues from criminal justice reform to Gen Z coming of age.
All past and new episodes of #WithChude can be watched at watch.withchude.com. You can also watch the premiere of new episodes every Saturday on Channels TV at 1 pm, with reruns every Sunday on Wazobia TV Channel 98 at 5 pm, and every Tuesday on Rave Tv at 5 pm.