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Rave & Roses Roundtable Discussion.

Before the scheduled release of Rave & Roses, Rema's highly anticipated debut,, we here at Bside decided to discuss the album, talking about our various expectations, what it could possibly sound like, the features and much more.

It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to claim that Rave & Roses, Rema’s long-awaited debut album, has been the most anticipated project, in Nigeria at least, for about a year and a half. It makes perfect sense. He’s Afrobeats’ golden child: the kid that had all the makings, since his staggering debut, of a megastar. He is to Afrobeats what Moses, the prophet, was to the Israelites; the destined one to take the genre to the promised land. Only a handful can claim to have a breakout year like his. The 21-year-old came into the game with his eponymous debut that took the country, and eventually the continent, by storm. He quickly followed with two equally impressive EP’s ー Rema Freestyle & Bad Commando ー which didn’t only increase his stocks but also showed the world just how versatile he is. All these culminated in millions of streams, lucrative brand deals and several award nominations.

After 2019, fans, onlookers and just about anyone interested in Afrobeats had patiently waited for his full-length release. But every time it looked like the album was on the horizon, a release of one single after the next, raising hopes and anticipation for the album, it never seemed to materialize. There were pushbacks after pushbacks for reasons unknown to the public. But again, it makes sense. Anyone that follows him knows there’s a certain gravitas with which he speaks about his work and his artistry. You can tell it's serious business to him. A couple of months ago he tweeted about the album saying: “Rave & Roses is more than an album, it’s a world that we’ll all take part of, every fan will be impacted beyond music.” So it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s taken this much time, carefully building this new world that is finally ready and would be open to the public on the 25th of March.

Before the scheduled release date, we here at Bside decided to discuss the album, talking about our various expectations, what it could possibly sound like, the features and much more.

What are your expectations for the album?

Jabbar: I hope the project solidifies Rema. Beyond his singles, his profile seems incomplete in a large sense. While he has a couple of projects under his belt already ー three in his breakout year (Rema, Rema Freestyle & Bad Commando) ー he doesn’t have a full-length album to his name and this feels like the one untrained muscle he has. Hopefully, the expectations don’t jinx his debut.

Bolu: Funny enough, I don’t have high expectations for the album. Rema is a generational talent, it’s undeniable. With his incredible run of three brilliant EP’s in 2019, his breakout year, coupled with his string of incredible singles, he has continuously proven himself to be head and shoulders above many. Albums are however a different ball game altogether and I don’t get the sense YET that he’s capable of putting together a brilliant one. The pre-released singles ー “Soundgasm” & “Calm Down” ー hint at a cohesive sonic direction and that’s a good sign. I, however, hope to be blown away.

Martin: I have really high hopes for the album. In fact, I expect Rave & Roses to change the narrative and perspective around him. It should take him from being the future of the genre to the present. He has everything going for him at the moment and I believe he can achieve this.

Seeing that the “Afrobeats to the World” movement is currently in full steam, do you think Rave & Roses is capable of being at the centre of the conversation upon its release or do you think it’ll probably be added firepower fueling the movement?

AK: I think it could definitely be at the center of the conversation. Rema shakes the game a little with almost every drop now think what it would be like when he finally drops his long-awaited debut. Also, I think there’s too much care and attention from his team and label for it not to be up there with the very best.

Jabbar: It’s impossible to tell at this point. Off ability alone, he’s capable of the task, but so are at least six or seven of his contemporaries. There are also a few of them embedded enough in the machine that could create a Made In Lagos level project. Competition is tough.

Jasmine: I think that the album being at the center of the “Afrobeats to the World” movement might be a large expectation to place on Rema. I don’t think it’ll spark a “worldwide” conversation but locally, I think it’ll be widely discussed and super impactful. Especially from the perspective of the youth/young people.

What version of Rema do you think we’re getting on the album. Soundgasm Rema? Trap Out The Submarine Rema? Lady Rema? Or a new version we haven’t heard before?

Bolu: Another banger Rema. Whatever it is would most likely be another banger. Cohesion is a separate conversation but it’ll be another banger still.

AK: I think we’ll get a dash of everything but I expect it to be predominantly Afropopー the global iteration that artists like Wizkid and Adekunle Gold have been giving us of late. But like I said, with a sprinkle of other vibes. Expect some Remapiano too.

Jabbar: I think he’ll try his hardest to accommodate all musical versions of himself, he clearly has a thing for versatility but he’s also very tapped in. Artists who can hone in on a sound or mood for one project tend to make better albums. If he’s got anything to tap into beyond the musical personas then maybe that’s the move.

Martin: I think we’re getting all the versions of Rema at once. No better place to show off your range than an album. There will most likely be a bit of everything for everybody.

Do you think this can be a make it or break moment for Rema depending on how well the album does?

Jasmine: Rema is in really solid space, he has been since his breathtaking entry into the game. If Rave & Roses disappoints or flops, I don't think it’ll make or break his career. Rema is young and talented, plus he has a lot of time on his hands. In the unimaginable case that the album flops, I think he still has enough time and tools in his arsenal to bounce back. And trust that his comeback will be crazy.

Jabbar: Nobody plans for their debut to bomb. An artist at his level probably can’t afford to have his album bomb but somehow that doesn’t seem like the worst thing that could happen to him. His stock has been stronger with singles, he could always revert to that but the album move makes him a bigger artist if he pulls it off. So yes, make or break.

AK: Ironically with the high expectations, I think it’s not a make or break moment. If it slaps and it popping off everywhere, there will be no surprises. But if it gets mixed or, let's assume, bad reviews, I think he’ll still have enough fuel in the tank to go again. As long as the reviews don’t get to him and sparks a war with fans, I think he’ll be fine.

How many features do you think will be on the album?

Bolu: I’ll go with 4 features. I don’t think he has ever featured anyone, has he?. It’ll be interesting to see the artists that end up on the album alongside him. There are rumours of 6lack, Yseult and Aj Tracey making the album. One thing I’m genuinely excited to hear is how these artists sound in his own world because most of the collaborations he’s done in the past, he’s had to mostly enter into other people’s worlds.

Jabbar: Too many.

Jasmine: Expecting maybe four to five features. A mix of both international and local artists.

AK: I think the album would have about five to seven features. I’m guessing it’ll be an odd number.

Martin: There’d probably be about four to five at most. He doesn’t exactly have a record of featuring others that much.

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