She’s The Nigerian Songbird Championing An Entirely Daring New sound.
Giving the amount of talent that exists in Nigeria, a massive African nation inhabited by a population of 195.9 million people, basking in a signature music genre as huge and as dominant as Afro-beats with majority of it’s music acts peddling in that direction, one would have a cause to believe that breaking grounds with a relatively new sound different from the norm would be nearly impossible. But for someone like Tems, born Temilade Openiyi whose sound is intriguingly different from what is regularly played melodies on the radio, It seems to come pretty easy, perhaps it could be better said that she makes it look easy.
Just a year after the release of he debut Extended Play, ”For Broken Ears”, a body of work that introduced her sound to the world, rocket-launching her career and carving a niche for herself within a short period of time. Getting recognized by the biggest acts around the world like Drake, Rihanna, Adele and more especially after her outstanding delivery on the global hit record ‘Essence‘ with Wizkid. With Standout tracks like ‘Damages’, ‘The Key‘, ‘Ice T‘, and ‘Free Mind‘, off the EP, the singer threaded on daring sound and did that so confidently and effortlessly, wording about her personal struggles and journey to finding peace, a topic that is almost never touched when it comes to lyricism from Nigerian acts.
15th September 2021, Tems came forth with her Sophomore project ”If Orange Was A place”, not deviating from her acquainted style. This time she brought more depth, reflecting on aspects of Love, heartbreak, to finding one’s self, she delivers abstract lyricism at it’s peak with an outstanding poetic touch to it.
She kicks off the project with the mildly bouncy ‘Crazy Tings‘, with lyrics suggesting her being fed up of the craziness of a messy partner. She vocalizes the words; ”So you need someone to deceive, And you’re trying to think that I’m the one for you. But don’t you see? You’re not everything, And I know you’re not the one for me”. The upbeat tempo Of ‘Crazy Tings‘ transcends into a series of calmly strummed guitars of the Brent Faiyaz-assisted ‘Found‘ that has Tems exploring her vocal dexterity, opening up smoothly with a sharp piercing falsetto voice, making it the first time the world would hear her do that, which only goes to prove that she’s got other cats to let out her bag. Packed with emotions, she goes to speak on how she might not be such a vulnerable woman after all even though she’s a passionate lover, with lyrics like, ”Basically, I might not be weak, Basically I might not be falling”, the contrast between both Tems and Brent’s lyrics only goes to make the song a more spiced up with the latter’s lyrics theming around easing up his heartbroken lover and trying to mend the cracks of the relationship, He sings, ”No more distance, let’s just dancе. I’ll mind my manners Won’t take advantage Trust I can managе that”.
Flowing back into bubbly vibrations, the head-nodding youthful cadence on ‘Replay‘ is like a pill that rejuvenates a sickened soul. The lyrics exhumes total braggadocio and self reassurance. She chants, ”They keep trying to reach me, yeah, yeah It’s the magic for me
I make them weep ’til they run insane So get me lit on a weekday
I’m on the way and my ways on a display”. She then chimes into some of her moments of emotional distress, including the brouhaha that erupted in Uganda during her supposed flouting of the 2020 covid-19 lockdown which resulted in her getting arrested alongside Singer Omah Lay. She sings, ”Pissed em off, they locked up in a celly, Then e shock dem when they see me on the telly. You know, I’m a vibe and I run it as usual”
The juxtaposition between this project and her previously released one, lies solely on Tems’s decision to ponder on a deeper level about the emotional roller-coaster that goes on in her mind, in particularity she can be heard vocalizing about her restraints from toxicity on the track ”Avoid Things”. While not only serving the soul-stirring semi ballad-like renditions, she upped the ante a little bit on the jivy tunes like ”Replay” and ”Crazy things”, but still she finds a way to confidently put herself up on a pedestal with lyricism that portrays her as a tender lover on the road to being an Alpha-female who is shedding off the fragile-hearted side of her. ”Vibe Out ‘‘ is perfect song to close a project of such caliber, a feel good anthem that preaches happiness, andthe joy of having a free-spirited energy. Letting her intentions known, she chants ”I’ma vibe out today” while exhuming total carefreeness basked in uniquely defined melodies.
In all, ”If Orange Was a Place” is a piece of work that not only dilates Tem’s discography and worldwide reach, it stamps her solidly as a groundbreaker in a stereotypical Nigerian music industry and in Africa in general, possessing an unmatched fluidity of music genres.