Tems Shares Unyielding Dedication to Musical Authenticity
Tems on Following Her Heart in a Genre-Bound World
In a candid and heartfelt interview with hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar for Interview Magazine, the acclaimed Grammy-winning artist Temilade Opeyemi, better known as Tems, shared insights into her musical journey, shedding light on the challenges she faced and the unrelenting passion that drives her unique sound.
Tems, celebrated for her enchanting voice and groundbreaking music, revealed that early in her career, she was advised to pivot towards Afrobeats as her style of music seemed out of place in Nigeria. However, she stood her ground and expressed that she was even “prepared to die” for her art, particularly her love for R&B, as she believed it was the only way to authentically convey her message.
“I believed in myself so much that I didn’t really care if I never became anything or anyone. I just wanted to get a message out. I wanted to get my frequency out,” Tems confided. She further emphasized that her artistic vision was paramount, regardless of the potential commercial outcomes.
Reflecting on her creative process, Tems shared her aspiration for her music to evoke intense emotions, likening it to the exhilarating feeling of standing at the precipice. She admitted that the prevalent Afrobeats genre didn’t quite provide her with the profound spiritual connection she sought in her music. “Afrobeats wasn’t necessarily giving me that type of stimulation,” she explained.
The artist recounted seeking advice from various quarters, only to be told that Afrobeats was the only viable path in Nigeria. She conveyed the sentiments she encountered: “The only way you can do this is Afrobeats. It’s not that your music is bad, it’s just that it doesn’t fit in Nigeria. Nigerians don’t like this.”
Tems, however, expressed her unwavering commitment to her musical integrity, even in the face of potential adversity. “And that’s not a lie, and it’s not a bad thing. But I felt in my heart that that’s okay. I’m okay with no one liking it, I just want to make this music,” she asserted. “I want to make music that makes me pull my heart out, and if I can’t do that, I don’t want anything. I would rather do that and be broke than compromise.”
The conversation delved into Tems’ perspective on the role of money in her career. While she acknowledged the value of financial success, she revealed that her focus has always been on chasing a unique artistic frequency that transcends material gains. “It’s not that money is bad. Money is very good. But for me, even right now, I’m chasing a frequency,” Tems explained passionately.
In a truly humbling moment, Tems acknowledged her unexpected journey and the people she’s connected with along the way. “There was no indication that I would’ve ended up here. Nobody could have told me I would be sitting here in London speaking to you, Kendrick Lamar,” she expressed with gratitude.
Tems’ interview comes on the heels of her phenomenal success, particularly with her collaboration with Wizkid on the global hit “Essence.” The song catapulted her to international acclaim, securing her first feature on the prestigious Billboard Hot 100 chart at an impressive number nine.
As the music industry continues to evolve, Tems remains a steadfast symbol of artistic authenticity, a beacon for those who strive to remain true to their unique frequencies while making an indelible mark on the world stage.