Image Credit: Lindsay Garbacik for The Campus Trainer
If there is one voice that you heard throughout the summer, it was probably that of a woman with a low-tone voice singing on the chorus of WizKid’s “Essence.” Meet Lagos born Temilade Openiyi, who goes by the stage name “Tems,” a rising star in the alternative music genre in Nigeria, known as “alte.” “I really like how unique Tems is from other afrobeats/afropop artists. She has an R&B kind of feel and I love it,” said Javan Scott, a junior English major. “She is definitely in her own lane as an African/Nigerian artist and it's refreshing.”
Tems dropped her EP titled “If Orange Was a Place'' on Sept. 14 and it truly does exemplify orange as a place; the project is a perfect transition from her summer hit collaboration with WizKid to the calming foliage of fall. Throughout the EP, the instrumentals range from traditional African percussions on “Crazy Tings,” to an acoustic guitar in the Brent Faiyaz collab “Found,” to a clubby beat on the song “Vibe Out.” Tems’ voice is truly a mystery as she said in her song “Replay,” as her vocal range changes from a deep scratchy tone to a smooth falsetto, all within a few songs. As of now, Tems has 8,798,487 monthly listeners on Spotify.
“My favorite song on the album is probably “Vibe Out” because I love the visuals I get from how it sounds and from the lyrics,” said junior public health major Berhan Meku, “It’s such a relaxing track but I feel like I could also dance to it.”
Tems’ rise in recognition from her EP and from Wizkid’s “Essence” could mean something big for artists coming from Africa, as many Afropop/R&B artists remain only known within the continent and their expatriate communities. This remains true as many musical experts are not familiar with the genre nor know any artists that contribute to it. This is not to say that gaining Western popularity equates success, but the genre could be beginning to be embraced by other communities around the world.
“I think Tems is definitely widening the door for more African artists,” said Scott.
Meku agrees, citing that Tems was establishing the scene with her style before her collaboration with Wizkid.
“I feel like she’s definitely opening the door for more African artists of different subgenres to also be exposed,'' she said.
The rise of Afropop could evolve from a possible “Essence” effect similar to the “Despacito” effect that happened four years ago. After Luis Fonsi’s song topped the charts in the summer of 2017, there was a wave of reggaeton songs entering the Billboard charts, according to this NBC article by Marisa Arbona- Ruiz.
Another Afropop song, Ckay’s “Love Nwantiti” is currently climbing the charts, mainly because the remix is trending on TikTok. Tems is not the only artist on our watch; anyone who has contributed to the genre deserves to have eyes on them.
“I feel that the music genre of Afropop is actually starting to get the recognition and value it deserves,” said junior information systems major Morelle Ndileba.