From the outside looking in, it definitely doesn’t seem like D’Prince was the kind of artiste to find talent like Rema. But he did and changed Mavin Records’ trajectory immediately.
In the past couple of years, the Mavin Records roster has become much less robust compared to when the label was at its height – roster wise – in 2017. Back then, the label had 10 artists signed up: Dr SID, D’Prince, Di’Ja, Korede Bello, Johnny Drille, Ladipoe, DNA, Iyanya, Tiwa Savage and Reekado Banks, all enjoying varying levels of success with the label. But since then, Iyanya, Tiwa Savage and Reekado Banks have all left the label whittling down the labels roster to six.
By 2019, only two of the six artists left were active – that is, putting out music consistently enough. It started to look like Mavin was a less vibrant version of itself, lacking the buzz and hype of the years before. Dr SID seemed to be looking to take his career beyond music, Di’Ja was building a family, nobody knew what the DNA twins were up to, D’Prince had been so quiet – he might as well not be on the label and Korede Bello wasn’t stealing any new hearts. But the label was about to get new energy, courtesy of an unlikely source – D’Prince. Enter Rema.
You see, D’Prince has often been criticised as lacking talent and riding on the coattails of his older, legendary brother Don Jazzy, who also founded Mavin Records. But he has remained an enduring personality, staying visible through the Mo’Hits era that preceded Mavin and contributing occasional hits to the labels soup of success. From the outside looking in, it definitely doesn’t seem like D’Prince was the kind of artiste to find talent like Rema. But he did and changed Mavin Records’ trajectory immediately.
As the story goes (told by Don Jazzy), Rema, whose real name is Divine Ikubor, was discovered by D’Prince after freestyling to one of D’Prince’s songs on Instagram and tagging both him and Don Jazzy. “It’s simple, on Instagram, the Prince put out a song, Gucci gang featuring myself and David and the young man did a freestyle to it and tagged us,” Don Jazzy told Leadership.ng in an interview.
But Rema wasn’t just coming on the scene, at least in Benin. He had been singing and freestyling since he was 11 and performed at church functions as a kid. Along with former bandmate Alpha P, he formed a group called RNA and together they won a talent hunt competition called “Dream Alive with Pikolo Season 2” organized by comedian-turned-politician Eromosele Daniel aka Pikolo. Following their win at that competition, they got to record their first official song “Mercy” and shoot a video for it. They even performed at the Glo Slide and Bounce in Benin and Lagos. They were also enjoying a lot of airplay on the Edo Broadcasting Service channels. Unfortunately, neither of the boys would ‘blow’ just yet until Rema tagged Don Jazzy and D’Prince in his freestyle.
After that, D’Prince travelled down to Benin to see Rema’s parents and offer him an opportunity. The rest as they say is history. In March 2019, he signed a deal with D’Prince’s Jonzing World – the first imprint label under Mavin Global and released his debut EP self-titled “Rema.” Since then Rema has quickly grown to become the next international superstar. He’s performed all over the country, made it to Barack Obama’s playlist and won the Next Rated at the 2019 Headies. The 19-year old singer has brought new energy levels to the Mavin engine room and evidence of that is there for the world to see. But none of that would’ve been possible if not for D’Prince. Because of him, Mavin Records has found its next megastar and the future certainly looks bright for all the parties involved.
In January 2019, Mavin secured investment from Kupanda Holdings, a joint venture between pan-Africa investment company Kupanda Capital and global private equity firm, TPG Growth. TPG has previously backed Spotify, Uber, Airbnb and Trace Media in Africa. The investment spun off a new entity – Mavin Global, which now house imprints like D’Prince’s Jonzing World and Baby Fresh’s Blowtime Entertainment. Part of that investment has gone into marketing Rema as well as a new mega office as the brand continues on a path towards its evolution as a consumer entertainment business.
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