TEMS’ ‘BORN IN THE WILD’ DOCUMENTS HER RISE TO GLORY

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While it might feel like Tems has been around forever, it hasn’t even been four years since her debut EP For Broken Ears. The Nigerian artist immediately secured herself as a key figure in the global Afro-pop takeover alongside the likes of Burna Boy, Wizkid, and more. 

Songs like ‘Free Mind’ and ‘Higher’ became year-defining, with the project arriving two years after her self-produced debut single ‘Mr Rebel’. In my opinion, it’s one of the best songs of the decade – yes, it’s that good. 

Tems is one of the biggest African artists in the world, and she proved so on her debut album, Born In The Wild, breaking the record for the biggest streaming day as a Nigerian female artist on Spotify’s charts. In other words: Tems is her, but we’ve known that for a minute. On BITW, she makes it indisputable. 

While she enlists two All-Star-worthy features with Asake and J. Cole, Tems does most of the talking on the eighteen-track project, far beefier than her previous two which have been less than 8 tracks a piece. 

From the introduction, BITW is deeply personal. In her own words, the album explores “surviving mental wilderness”, touching on heartbreak, personal growth, and loss. She explores the lessons learnt on her road to stardom and the vast differences between her lifestyle as a star and her upbringing in Lagos. 

The LP’s title track and intro is borderline flawless, giving fans further glimpses into Tems’ childhood and summarising what BITW is all about – overcoming adversity and empowering growth. Her music has always moved the masses and her songwriting has only become sharper over the years – making a hit song is now second nature.

For most diehard Tems fans, nothing can top the undeniable classics from For Broken Ears and If Orange Was A Place, but on tracks like ‘You In My Face’, ‘Burning’, and ‘Boy O Boy’ (just to mention a few), Tems is really putting her effortless ear for melody, gripping vocals and soulful voice on show.

Many tracks from BITW should go on to have similar long-lasting impacts as her previous records have, already seen with singles ‘Me & U’, and ‘Love Me JeJe’. Songs like ‘T Unit’ and ‘Turn Me Up’ further prove her artistic diversity with second-nature rap verses and flawless hooks on both being a nice touch towards the back end of BITW

Artists from non-Western countries occasionally lose part of their identity or local sound on the path to appease a wider mainstream audience. There’s no denying that Tems is just as much of a popstar as she is an afrobeats star, although her music is difficult to box in solely to either genre, BITW is a solid balance between her roots and a general reflection of her career and life today. 

While it’s only her debut album, there’s no denying how far Tems has come as an artist over the past half-decade. She’s accumulated a Grammy and an Oscar nomination while collaborating with some of the industry’s most famed (Beyonce, Drake, Wizkid, Justin Bieber, and Brent Faiyaz), while also recording and writing for Rihanna during the making of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack.

Tems, at only 28, has the world in the palm of her hands. There seems to be no possible standard to set or ceiling to be placed on where she may end up. If BITW is where the Tems album journey begins, we’re in for a memorable ride. 

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