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What is it about Reminisce’s Ponmile?

Ponmile has soul. Perhaps enough soul to make you reminisce as the rapper’s name implies. And this is what we thought he’d do when we heard his name the first time: make us all reminisce. It is a kind of song that brings all the moods home.

Reminisce, who is known also by his song title Baba Hafusa, and whose real name is Remilekun Safaru is the face of never-smiling Ibile Nigerian rap. If you do not know what Ibile is, just think ‘local’ and you’ll be fine. And he knows. It’s why he did the track ‘Local Rappers’. The singer must have heard the label so much; he decided to make art and money off of it. Smart thinking, if you ask me (You didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway).

I heard about the song Ponmile for the first time on YouTube, and not from the singer, but from adorable Project Fame one-time winner, Chidinma Ekile who had done a cover with guitarist Femi Leye and a video to go with it.  And then my interest was piqued. Thirty minutes later, I had found five more covers of the song, and had not still heard the song itself. I got really curious: What was it about Ponmile that got the world rushing to do covers for it like it was Adele’s ‘Hello’? Was it that Reminisce had gotten an overnight sonorous voice that brought everyone to their knees? Or was it that the song was such a brilliant composition? I had to find out.

I watched the Ponmile video and found it to be one the public would connect to in a strangely precise way. Ponmile seems to have gotten this kind of attention for a number of reasons.

First, this is the only time I have seen the rapper not rap. According to MI’s ‘You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Life’, Nigerian rappers seem to be going into singing because of a basic lack of direction and the frantic need to blow. It would appear Reminisce does not care for restrictions on his music and form of expression, and goes ahead to shatter the boundaries anyway.

Second, Ponmile has soul. Perhaps enough soul to make you reminisce as the rapper’s name implies. And this is what we thought he’d do when we heard his name the first time: make us all reminisce. It is a kind of song that brings all the moods home.

Third, Ponmile carries a message. No, not one but many. He tells the woman in question in smooth Yoruba that he’d do anything for her but she should give him some respect and stop sleeping around. In the video, a man and woman have an argument that leads him to slapping her, and Reminisce says this is not the solution either. “Saying you do not love me anymore is no crime at all”, he says, just say and everyone would go their separate ways. With Ponmile, Reminisce dons the hats of relationship counsellor and anti-violence crusader, and the hats fit.

Lastly, Ponmile features brilliant Yoruba actor Odunlade Adekola who brings all his feelings to the table. Odunlade is raw with his emotion on this song, which makes it clear why he is so highly regarded as an actor. He stars alongside fast-rising Jenifa actress, Lota Chukwu, and their chemistry is fire. And so when you watch Ponmile, you aren’t just watching a music video, you’re seeing a short film play out before you.

Oh, and lastly, Reminisce brings the best in the business for this, from Clarence Peters who is fantastic at what he does, to producer Jospo who has a repertoire of hits to his credit. The Ponmile beat carries the mood for the song so clearly, it is easy to jump on it and do a soul-wrenching cover like Chidinma, or Immaculate Dache who nearly lets the tears drop. There is also an Akeem Adisa who does a hilarious, slightly cocky cover and Aramide who makes hers about the other woman. Then there is the comedian and singer’s version, Kenny Blaq that has an RnB feel with vocals that can melt stone. In all, Ponmile currently has up to twenty covers and counting, perhaps the song with the most professionally-done covers in Nigeria to date.

Somebody give the man a trophy!

Ifeoluwa Olujuyigbe was the 1st runner-up in The Critic Challenge 2017. She is a writer, editor and film critic. Her short stories, reviews, essays and flash fiction pieces have appeared on Brittle Paper, Akoma, The Naked Convos, Storried Nigeria, The Scoop, Pulse Nigeria, Words are Work, Writivision, Paragraph Planet UK, Short Sharp Shot Literary Magazine, and 'A Mosaic of Torn Places' anthology, to mention a few. She won Flash Fiction Competition, Blackout (2016), and the SGNT Media Short Story Prize (2016), and she was a runner-up for the iWriteArt Competition (2016). She currently writes movie reviews for True Nollywood Stories (TNS) and edits for gemWoman Magazine.

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