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Local singer Rima attracts global audience

Photos by Alan Garro

Local singer, song writer and musician Karima, known as Rima, is attracting a global audience with hundreds of views on YouTube and thousands of streams on Spotify.

Her style is reggaeton, afrobeat with the vocals in Spanish, and she sings songs she has written herself, something she started doing at the age of six.

She started out singing at the age of three and performed on GBC. But it wasn’t until she started to write her own songs and playing the guitar at ten that she found her passion.

When she returned from university, she set out on being a solo artist and has had a lot of success in doing so.

On Spotify alone, she has over 2,850 monthly listeners. Her latest song, Caballero, was released late last month and has over 1,700 streams. On YouTube, Caballero has over 1,100 views.

Her most popular song has over 5,550 streams.

“When I came back from university I became a solo artist. That's when I realised that my style is not the mainstream that you're going to hear everywhere in Gibraltar,” she told the Chronicle.

“We have a lot of local musicians, which are really good, but everyone has the same sort of style.”

“I thought I would stand out or am I going to fit the mould? I realised that I had a lot of passion for Spanish music. So I started singing Spanish pop, and then I would perform at Molly Blooms and up the coast [in Spain].”

“And I realised that most of the tourists up the coast like to hear the Spanish music instead. So I stuck to that.”

When she had been performing that style for a while, she moved over to afrobeats. She picked afrobeats with flamenco, mixing in reggaeton for her current style.

“I’m half Moroccan so it is in my blood to have this style in my song. But I am passionate about the Spanish side as well. I love having flamenco which is very passionate. So I thought, mix them both together, and put a reggaeton beat behind it."

"And it seems to have worked,” she said.

“I did a remix of one of the Moroccan artists that I know. And it did well. People were speaking to me that I hadn't spoken to in years. And they messaged me and said ‘Karima we have you on our Spotify playlist’.”

Last September, she started to play more in local establishments and record more of her songs. She has converted a room in the family home into a studio where she can shut herself away for hours of writing, singing and playing.

“Now I prioritise music as the main thing in my life and I am going to stick to it,” she said.

But, she said, the reality of coming from Gibraltar is that if you are not out of Gibraltar, you won’t be as successful. Some musicians, she said, do incredibly well with many views on their streams. But “I'm not that lucky.”

“I put my songs on, I share them with my friends and, in less than a week, I've had over 9000 people listen to my song,” she added.

One aspect of her music is keeping the lyrics respectful and meaningful. While reggaeton has very sexual undertones to it, her music does not keep that vibe.

“Very bluntly, my Mum raised me well, so I'm always going to be polite in my songs,” she said.

“But I think that I could sing in Spanish with a reggaeton beat that people are going to enjoy singing and, if your kids are in the car, you can listen to my music.”

All her songs are about her experiences. Her latest song, Caballero, meaning gentleman in Spanish, is not sexist she said. But highlights the fact that there are men that tell you one thing but their actions do not match their words.

“I realised recently at my age, and with my priorities in life, that I am no longer interested in social media or dating sites or anything that seems to be the norm. So a verse is all about that. There are men who talk to you and flirt with you and then they disappear.”

“And then the chorus was, I'm looking for a gentleman that buys me flowers and wants to meet my Mum. I want a gentleman to build a life with.”

When she is not singing one of her own songs, she will do covers of artists such as Amy Winehouse, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. And also will translate and perform Ed Sheeran songs in Spanish.

Her goal for this year is to get together ten to 15 of her songs and perform them at a festival on the Rock or at an event such as National Day.

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