Grammy-winning singer, Temilade Opeyemi, popularly known as Tems, has revealed that she got advised to go into Afrobeats because her kind of music ‘doesn’t fit in Nigeria’.
The music star, however, stated that she was ‘prepared to die’ for R&B because it was the only way she felt her message could be let out.
Tems said this in an interview with superstar rapper, Kendrick Lamar on Interview Magazine.
I was prepared to die. 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. And I was like, ‘Even if ten people hear this, it’s fine.’ But also along the way, I used to listen to a lot of Nigerian music and I wasn’t getting a lot of spiritual—I love Celine Dion, so, I love that intense feeling of, I’m about to jump off a cliff.
That’s how I want my music to feel all the time, and Afrobeats wasn’t necessarily giving me that type of stimulation. Everyone I asked for advice was like, ‘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’.
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. 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.
Tems also stated that she cared less about money and was more particular about chasing a frequency.
I didn’t really care about the money. It’s not that money is bad. Money is very good. But for me, even right now, I’m chasing a frequency. There’s artists I’ve loved all my life, that when they reach a certain stage, the music loses that frequency, it loses that touch they had. And I always wondered why. Why do I have to lose that touch? I don’t actually care where I end up. If I’m under a bridge and I have a way to make music, I’m going to be good.
That’s what led me to meet the people that connected to that music. 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. “
Tems has enjoyed a winning streak ever since her collaboration with Wizkid, “Essence” became an international hit in 2021.
The song earned Tems her first feature on the Billboard Hot 100 at number nine.