Tems: How the Nigerian Star ruled the world of Music in 2021
Even with all its ups and downs, 2021 has been beneficial to many artists in the music industry, mostly Nigerian talented singer, Tems.
From the beginning of 2021, Tems has been on the rise in the Global music scene since the release of Wizkid’s ‘Essence‘ which she lent her rare vocal range to in the summer of 2020.
In 2021 she has become one of Nigeria’s biggest Global stars, earning herself millions of streams, a feature on Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” and fan love from International celebrities.
Just like most Nigerian artists, her career didn’t always start big. Other than some early fan affection from those who were drawn to her catchy tune, she remained virtually unknown for a long time.
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Tems’ Journey into Music
Prior to becoming Tems was one of global R&B’s fastest-rising stars, she was Temilade Openiyi, an introverted child of a single mother in Lagos who enjoyed Destiny’s Child, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, and Aaliyah’s music.
A music teacher in secondary school guided her in discovering her voice. She’d sing and write songs at home with her brother on the guitar.
She’d always known she wanted to spend her life making music, and at the age of 15, she decided to quit listening to other people’s songs in order to develop her own style free of influences.
She became a hesitant college student in South Africa, studying economics at her mother’s insistence. Music took a backseat for the majority of her school years, and she only performed once in South Africa.
She got to open for Cassper Nyovest with a song called Highlights.
She also learned how to produce by watching YouTube videos. During one of her school vacations, she realized that producers would not help her unless she was willing to pay in cash or kind. So she gathered her wits and taught herself how to make her own music.
She went on to work as a digital marketer in Lagos before deciding to focus on music three years ago.
In 2018, she released “Mr Rebel,” a stripped-down sleeper hit that earned her a community of supporters known as the Rebel Gang.
However, Try Me which was released in August 2019, catapulted her into the spotlight and generated a buzz around her.
The Rise of Tems
Even in 2020, “Try Me” was still buzzing and in the first half of the year, it looked like she wasn’t going to drop anything again.
She however dropped “These Days” in May 2020 after a couple of collaborations with Show Dem Camp, Odunsi, Khalid and Blackmagic.
Then came her debut EP, For Broken Ears which received praises from the listening public and praises from critics. The EP was preceded by its lead single, ‘Damages.”
Unlike the mellow “Try Me“, “Damages” was a bit fast-paced but the themes of both songs were similar in a way.
“Damages” is a liberation song for young, exuberant women who quickly fall in love, the ladies who gave out their time and hearts to the wrong guy throughout their adolescent years and got played by the person they loved.
The song was a success, earning millions of streams in weeks of release.
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Essence and its many triumphs
For every Artists there is that one song that not just reintroduces to your audience but takes your name to corners of the earth you never expected.
For Tems it was “Essence“, one of the songs from Wizkid’s 2020 “Made In Lagos” album.
When it was released alongside the project’s other songs in 2020, not many people actually vibed with the song. In fact, the trending songs from Wizkid’s MIL were “Ginger” which features Burna Boy, “Blessed” which features Damian Marley, ‘Smile” which features H.E.R.
In the first half of 2021, when it felt like the buzz around the album was dying down, “Essence” came to the rescue. US Celebrities were among the first set of people to start using the song on their short videos.
Then came in Tik-Tok where most songs have found popularity and it was no different for “Essence“, shooting it to a wider audience.
The part of the song mostly used on Tik-Tok was Tems‘ hook and this translated to not only fame for Wizkid but also for Tems.
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Thanks to the song, Tems debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and several other Billboard charts, became the most streamed female artist in Nigeria on Spotify, earned her first BET nomination, among others.
As if that wasn’t enough, The song so enamoured Justin Bieber 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.
It wasn’t too long the song was receiving certifications in various countries.
While riding on the high of “Essence“, Tems dropped her second EP, “If Orange is a Place.”
If Orange Was A Place illustrates the Nigerian artist’s artistic evolution while retaining much of the distinctive flavour of her prior release.
The production, helmed by Ghanaian producer Guilty Beatz, is also considerably more complete and urban.
Weeks Later, millions heard her melodious voice on “Fountains” a song off Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” and from there it has been one success to another.
How the next year holds for the sultry singer will be dependent on the songs or project, if any she releases.
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