Will Rema Ever Take WizKids Place? The Answer Is A Resounding No

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You’ve heard the same story before. Once upon a time, there was Michael Jackson. The king of pop, untouchable and legendary in his greatness. Then a young Justin Timberlake stepped on the scene and everyone wondered if he was the heir to the throne. Closer to home, when 9ice featured 2Baba (then named 2Face) on his track ‘Street Credibility’, everyone said that 9ice had the better verse and was clearly about to take over the scene from 2Baba. In hindsight, none of those people were right. Justin Timberlake did not depose Michael Jackson and 9ice is, well, just nice. Now it’s 2019 and almost a decade after appearing on the scene, WizKid has risen to the top of the music industry food chain. Now that he’s high up there everyone anticipates the inevitable fall, and it’s Rema they look to, to replace him. But Rema can’t, and he really shouldn’t.

It’s easy to see why they’d make the comparison. Both WizKid and Rema entered the industry under the tutelage of a popular musician. Banky W saw the potential in the former, whilst Rema caught the eye of Don Jazzy. Both of them also appeared on the scene with a distinct style. When WizKid entered the picture, there were none like him (but now there are like a thousand clones). The same can be said of Rema. His blend of Indian accentuations and Afropop doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s truly something special. There’s some chatter that they both sound alike, and they both have the kind of face that’ll be forever young. But that’s where the similarities end. And all of the above is not enough to conclude that in a decade, Rema would have reached or surpassed the heights that WizKid has attained. And the truth is, for Rema and his fans, supplanting WizKid really shouldn’t be the goal.

WizKid was the first Wizkid, and that is precisely why he’s made it this far. Rema is the first Rema, and if he ever wants to be involved in the GOAT (greatest of all time) conversation, then he would need to stay true to himself. The comparisons between him and WizKid may seem like flattery for now, but there will come a day when it won’t. No one likes a cheap knockoff. Rema’s trajectory seems very much like WizKid’s in the early days, but no one really expected WizKid to last this long. And everyone is secretly watching for when Rema’s newbie momentum will slow to a halt. Rema’s temperament also separates him from the Starboy. Rema doesn’t seem like the type that will drop his label after his superstar status has solidified. Don Jazzy has seen many young stars come and go (D’Banj, Wande Coal), but with Rema, he may have found one that is as loyal as Tiwa Savage. Above all, Rema doesn’t have to dethrone WizKid because there’s a vacant throne for the taking, and it has Rema’s name written all over it. What is this throne you ask? It’s none other than the alté movement.

Rema has the potential to be the poster boy for the new and promising subgenre known as alté music. Right now, there isn’t much competition (in terms of mainstream appeal). Tems is already making a strong case for the title, but as of writing this, she does not have the machinery behind her that Rema does. Imagine being the name forever associated with the rise of a culture and the music it inspires. Rema can do something WizKid never could, blaze a brand-new trail. When WizKid appeared on the scene there was already an abundance of Afropop stars. Whereas there’s barely anyone occupying the alté sky. If Rema plays his cards right, he can be to alté music what M.I is to Hip Hop in Nigeria. He has to be quick about it though, that girl Tems is not playing around.

Summarily, if Rema is smart, he won’t take the bait. Why fight to be the biggest fish in the pond, when you can find a pond that’s all yours? There’s already whispers that Rema has watered his style down since joining Mavin Records. But it’s only his freshman year, without a doubt he has a lot left in store. And seeing as Mavin is the same record label that allows Johnny Drille to run around doing his thing, it’s unlikely that they will force Rema to fit the WizKid mould. In fact, Don Jazzy is the kind of brilliant leader that would never have selected Rema if all he had going for him was a similarity to WizKid. Rema will never beat WizKid at being WizKid, but he might just stand a chance, by being himself.

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