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  • Writer's pictureEze Bolade

Introducing the African Queen of Soul| Tems

Nigeria has a new queen of Soul, and her name is Tems. Tems' distinct, bassy vocals helped make 'Essence' the breakout hit from Wizkid's 2020 LP, Made in Lagos. The song enthralled Justin Bieber enough that he successfully campaigned to appear on its remix, propelling it to the Top 20 of Rolling Stone's singles chart and garnering more than 80 million Spotify streams between the two versions. Tems' duet with Drake on 'Fountains,' a dreamy highlight of his Certified Lover Boy, was heard by millions weeks later.

She announced a major-label contract with Sony's RCA and Since '93 divisions shortly after releasing her superb EP If Orange Was a Place.

Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine, she states 'God has given me this purpose, and it's just happening," she tells me. "I didn't choose my voice. I didn't choose to love music. Every time I hear any type of music, I hear melodies in my head in thousands, and I'm just picking one. I didn't make myself this way.'

If Orange Was a Place, her most recent EP, is lighter and more at ease. She responds, 'I believe this one is more enjoyable.' 'After I recovered, I let go of everything and began to live, to appreciate life." And this is what the EP is all about. It's almost like a prequel. Following healing comes vitality, joy, good vibrations, and dancing.'

In a departure from her previous work, she did not create any of the EP's tracks, instead engaging Ghanaian DJ and producer GuiltyBeatz - a shift she admits 'felt uncomfortable,' but also indicates a maturation. She's one of Nigeria's few well-known female producers, owing to her inability to purchase beats when she graduated from university and her difficulty convincing experienced producers to accept her choices. In her interview with Emmanuel Akinwotu, she noted 'I started producing as a rebellion. It was me being like: you know what, everybody is just being stuck up, treating me like a dumb person. OK, no problem, I'll go and make beats and you will not be able to tell me shit in the studio.'

Tems recently made headlines for her performance with Afrobeats poster-boy Wizkid, who kicked off a 3-day tour for his London fans at the famous 02 Arena on November 28th, 2021. Wizkid closed the show on December 1st, 2021, with an outstanding performance and invited other Afrobeats A-List artistes to grace the stage with him.

Wizkid attempted to hoist Tems on stage in an uncomfortable moment on the third day of the O2 Arena event, and the footage quickly went viral, spawning several memes and debates.

Tems declared there were no difficulties between her and Wizkid during her show at the Lafayette in London on December 2nd and advised everyone to move on from the situation.


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