Tems’ “Born in the Wild” is a Lullaby For the Soul

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There’s just something about Tems’ music that urges you to keep listening. It doesn’t have to click at first listen (which is highly dependent on your preference) but it’s there — the relaxing feel, the blue emotions that seeps in through your veins as you ingest every chord of her tune. It should be the might of her voice and how calculated the instrumentals from her songs are, how luring and embracing they can be. Tems’ music is a lullaby for the soul, only it doesn’t lure you to sleep, it awakens an inner part of you and whether she’s exploring sounds or not, her music still has the same effect. 

Tems might be reckoned now as the Nigerian version of the likes of Sade Adu, Lauryn Hill and Janet Jackson; considering how combusting the sounds she explores into from her recently released debut album is. But first, let’s talk Tems. 

Tems is not as good as you guys say she is” has escaped the pieholes of Nigerians many times. So also, “She’s only this popular because Wizkid featured her on ‘Essence’”. The materials with which Nigerians have attempted to ascribe Tems’ fame to are vast, but they seem to forget that before “Essence”, Tems has been with the impeccable brilliance of a song that launched her well into the Nigerian music market, “Try Me.” There’s perhaps no need to tether much on how good she is because if words can’t explain it well, her achievements — the Grammy awards, the Billboard entries, the BET awards, the international recognition; the one that comes with solid evidence of work. So really, is Tems not as good as? 

It’s very easy to ascribe Temilade’s personality to her music and that is the most endearing thing about  her craft. Her music is as soft as her aura loudly speak, even in her silence. So perhaps, yes, it’s one thing you can want to link her to Wizkid with— the mysterious aura that they both embody, one which Tems has an even better carriage on. 

You can tell that much like every other project, Tems’ debut “Born in the Wild” means very much to her, and like a mother bequeathed to her newborn child, “Born in the Wild” is Tems’ very own baby. This is not because it has the perfect audio clip from her mother on “Special Baby” or the words from her managers, Tec and Donawon, on “Voices in My Head”; but rather because listening to Tems’ debut, you hear the ‘care’ with which the female songstress must have adorned the project with. 

You know an album stems from the deepest part of an artist’s heart when you can feel the consciousness of the tracks, you can feel so much tenderness in the artist’s voice as the melodies sweep through your ears, you can feel the smooth transition from track A to B, the ease with how you ingest the album, and the overall satisfaction when you must have exhausted the last track of the music project. Care is so evidently present in an album as that and that exactly is what Tems has replicated with “Born in the Wild”. 

Tems has given much attention to her debut album, and it doesn’t feel like one spends fifty-four minutes listening to it, because great efforts put into the album has your listening experience as a walk in the park. We might have scolded her once for holding off a debut album for so long, but Tems has now expressively crowned the wait with such a timeless and classic album. You heard it here first or not, the next generation will find “Born in the Wild” soothing and as an escape from ‘reality.’ 

There’s no reason whatsoever to rush the listening of Tems’ album, Tems herself did not rush through it, so why should you? One would plead to give this album a listen but really, refusal to give it a listen is an attestation to your lack of taste for finer things in this thing called life. 

“Born in the Wild” is a representation of Tems’ vulnerability, a representation of how explorative she can be even in her soulful element and her willingness to embody an even better aura than the one flanked on her shoulders. The 18-track album marked with excellence revels through a series of creativity, from interpolated songs such as “Wickedest” stemming off Magic System’s “Premiere Gaou” and sampled tunes as “Love Me Jeje” from Seyi Sodimu’s “Love Me Jeje”, alongside “Gangsta” from Diana King’s “L-L-Lies”; to the sonic display of RnB sounds, hip-hop Melodie’s and an expatiate salsa rhythm. Tems embraces even, the classic Afropop sound, laced with percussions on the track, “Get It Right”, featuring Asake, a tune set right to accommodate the mastery display of musicality for both artists. 

Tems deliver an unfathomable emotion to open her album, titled just as the album itself, “Born in the Wild.” She expresses vulnerability through this track, which later spills into an interlude focused on affirmations and features her mother on “Special Baby.” 

The opening track, “Born in the Wild” probably speaks more emotions than any other track off the album. 

Despite exploring sounds on her debut album, Tems captures “Burning” as the sacrificial lamb for her to properly portray her sound as an RnB artist properly. This track and others such as “Unfortunate” and “Boy Oh Boy”. While “Burning” is most definitely a “her sound”, it bears semblance to a typical 90s sound that a western artist like Kelly Rowland would love to hop on. These tracks are laced with elixirs to them, offering unique perspective, unique tales and most definitely enjoyable rhythms. 

We’re not well defined with Tems’ musical influences but Sade Adu has to be on the list, given how she sings much like a protégée of the Nigerian-British songstress in “Ready”. The therapeutic feel of “Ready” is an immersing aid to serenity. “Ready” outrightly suggests ease and quietness. You’re not only attune to feeling Sade Adu’s influence in the album, but also the funk energy of Janet Jackson in “Forever”. You feel the funkiness and gliding groove of this track and come to a possible conclusion of how Tems is almost a protégée of many talented musical legends. 

Asides the display of Tems’ exploration into her preferred musical influences, she bodies her own ‘miniature’ rap style for “T-Unit”. Shakur might have to sit upright wherever he is to give this impressive tune a listen. It’s a tune that not one soul saw coming and it might be safe to conclude that Tems’ invested heavily into this music project. 

“You in My Face” reminds you of an old 80s moment, a defining moment between two lovers that linger in steamy tension, something only a salsa sound can effectively convey. And yet some say, “Tems is not as good as?” 

Activism rears its head for Tems as she gingerly employs it into the dancehall-infused track, “Turn Me Up”. We might have to stamp Tems through this track as the Nigerian version of Koffee. There’s a burst of Jamaican energy, a dancehall rhythm that, at its ending, transits into the melodious tune, “Me & U”, which, although a previous release, sounds newly refreshed.

Tems’ debut album competes greatly for a perfect RnB album, one that bears a wide range of different perspectives, enjoyable listening experience and bursts of energy sewn into it. Whether it’s the exploration of sounds, culmination of influences, sheer display of emotions or careful curation of “Born in the Wild”, Tems’ crown is hers and for as long as she chooses to satisfy our thirsty ears with her music, the crown remains hers.

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