The Unique Sound of Temilade Openiyi

Who Is Tems?

Temilade Openiyi, famously known as Tems is a talented singer, songwriter, and producer from Lagos, Nigeria. Originally the “Crazy Tings’ singer was pursuing a career in marketing with an economics degree under her belt. Openiyi has been dabbling with the piano and guitar since the age of twelve but did not pursue music professionally until 2018. Tems specializes in a genre that’s specific to Nigeria and she is on her way to global success. Tems Is gaining popularity for her unique and, as she describes “heavy” voice. Temilade is taking the music world by storm and is spreading the popularity of the specialized genre throughout the western world. 

Beginning of her Career

From receiving an economics degree in undergrad, it was almost certain that music, as a career, was not in her plan. It was not until 2018 where she released her debut single “Mr. Rebel”.  After the release of her first track, she gained popularity on youtube with 4.6 million views on her self-produced song “Try Me” in 2019. With the help of this single, she was able to establish a solid fan base. The same year her song “Mr.Rebel” earned her two headies nominations, solidifying that this was the right path for her. Due to the success of her first single Tems refers to her day one fans as “Rebel Gang”.  Between the time of her first and second single, she dropped an EP in 2018 called “illumination”. Along with producing her own music she worked with American artist, Khalid on the Afrobeats remix of his song “Know your worth”. After the success of her singles Tems went to work on her debut EP “For Broken Ears” which was released in September of 2020. A month later she was featured on Wizkid’s fourth studio album “Made in Lagos”, released in October of that year. Their break out hit of the album “Essence” which gained global recognition.

“I knew I had a different purpose with my music and the longer I stayed in that job, the feeling just continued to grow louder. I learned that you just have to do what you have to do. If your spirit is saying something or if you feel a certain way, you have to go with it”. 

-Tems on leaving her 9-5 marketing job and pursuing music

International Exposure

Due to the global success of their hit song “Essence”, Tems not only gained more of an audience within Africa but also in America. Wizkid is a well-established musician and artist amongst Africa and Nigeria as a whole but is also a Grammy Award-winning singer/rapper. Being featured on the album earned her more recognition, but the popularity of the song sky-rocketed her into the western eye when Wizkid dropped a remix of the track featuring Justin Bieber. Following the release of the remix, Tems released a highly anticipated EP “If Orange was a Place”. Which had a global audience ready to listen to the newly discovered talent.  Just recently Wizkid brought Tems to perform the hit at the O2 arena in London.

The Impact of her music style

Tems is a monumental voice in the Nigerian Alte scene, which is a fairly new genre of alternative music based in Nigeria that draws from western and Nigerian styles of music.  Tems is a catalyst for this emerging sound in Nigeria and brings it to western audiences. The genre is already a small scene because of its newness, but it is monumental that within such a short amount of time she has spread this sound globally. Tems has gained listeners and fans because of her beautiful and unique voice that perfectly makes the Alte genre. Tems is putting on for other Nigerian artists breaking out into this new section of music.

Quote from an Interview with AudioMack

“As a Nigerian, how do you feel about the music coming from your country right now and genres such as Alté and Nigerian Pop transcending borders?”

“I feel blessed, and I believe Nigerians are blessed. There’s hope amongst all of the chaos. Even when totally crazy things have happened, there’s still hope; there’s still light. That is because of the amazing talent that has been coming out of Nigeria for years. I feel proud to now be one of those people.”