THE NIGERIAN R&B RECORD PRODUCER AND SINGER IS JUST GETTING STARTED.
Tems took home the Best International Act, which was sponsored by Smirnoff at the BET Awards 2022.
The Lagos native dedicated the award to every single woman who may not believe they could chase their dreams. “Where I’m from in Lagos, this is a dream, as you’re watching me, imagine yourself as me, you are meant to be here, too,” Tems said as she held the award.
Anybody who has been listening to afro-beats over the last year or so has heard Tems’ deep, velvety voice, whether it be the chart-topping hit song, “Essence” where she featured alongside Wizkid, or her debut EP “For Broken Ears,” or even her most recent EP “If Orange Was a Place.”
Although it seems like her rise to the top happened overnight, the Lagos native started singing when she was about 13 years old and producing when she was 20. The fans who have been with her from the very beginning would recall her first song, “Mr. Rebel” which she produced herself and released in 2018.
She discussed how she started making music with Hot 97 in 2021. The 27-year-old songstress told the hosts she met someone who allowed her to use his studio and that she actually didn’t know a thing about the industry at the time. When she first posted her music online, she felt her rise to fame was slow and gradual.
But in 2021 after the release of her debut EP, she spoke with Apple Music about how quickly things had changed. “It’s all happening so fast, there’s just so many things that have happened, trying to take some time to take it all in, and be grateful for all this grace and all the blessings,” Tems told Apple music.
In the interview it was mentioned that at one point in her career she even told fans God went above and beyond anything she could have imagined. She also discussed how so many people send her messages about the impact her music has had on them.
Growing up in Lagos, despite many people’s wishes for her to get a serious job, she never stopped thinking about music. At five years old she fell in love with music and cited her influences growing up being Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child and Lil Wayne. She joined the choir and learned how to play piano as a teenager. Still, her mother encouraged her to put school first, especially when it came to applying to universities.
“Where I’m from, you have to go to school and do something serious that will get you a high paying job,” she told Hot 97. She studied economics in South Africa, and joked with the hosts that she never used the degree in her entire life, because she had focused solely on breaking into the music industry.
Last year, she tweeted to her fans about the importance of recognizing balance after admitting she quit her office job three years ago in order to pursue music. Based on her success over the last few years, it is clear that she made the right decision. Her hit song “Essence” with Wizkid made history as the first ever Nigerian song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Global 100, and the record even received a Grammy nomination at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Global Music Performance. Tems told Apple music, she and Wizkid did not anticipate the outpouring of love the single has received.
Her music has even captured the attention of stars, including Adele, Rihanna, Drake, and Justin Bieber. Last year, Tems was even featured on “Fountains,” a single from Drake’s 2021 album, Certified Lover Boy.
Her single “Free Mind,” from her debut EP For Broken Ears peaked at number 1 on the Billboard U.S. Afrobeats Songs and Bubbling Under Hot 100, becoming her most successful songs in addition to “Essence.” For Broken Ears delves into Tems’ feelings of doubt, fear and the mental strains of tough situations.
“I don’t talk too much but I sing a lot,” Tems told Vibe in a 2019 interview. “I write what I feel, it is the only way to release my thoughts.”
Tems has proven that she is bigger than just a featuring artist, she is a triple threat, who can sing, write, and produce her own music. And this is only the beginning, she has made it big in Nigeria and is continuing to dominate the international stage.