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Tems – Born In The Wild

For her debut album, The Nigerian singer centers her story around the sound that has become her trademark, Afrosoul—delivering the perfect album in the process.

Temilade Openiyi is in a league of her own, in an era where legworks controls the narrative, the emotive but guarded artist bathes in success with a series of songs that are keyed in on profound vulnerability, fierceness, supernatural perspective, and self-care; themes that are BORN IN THE WILD

The album’s singles Me & You, and Love Me Jeje, follow a similar sonic path, and it’s not far off from the entry point, which sees the singer flex her vocals. She shares a personal conversation with her mum as the interlude, before digging deeper into Burning. The song has a magnetic R&B hook, quiet-storm drums, and typical Temilade penning skills. The energy is matched on Wickedest, a fast-paced anthem that samples Ivorian Zouglou artists Magic System’s 1er Gaou, a fan favourite already.

One thing about Tems is she will muse about matters of the heart, and she barely needs any help for that, but Asake’s rap verse on Get It Right is volatile and sharp, cresting in explosions that mirror Tems’ mindsets, a trip fueled by Sarz. J Cole gets the last feature slot, on Free Fall, the American rapper shows his demure presence, anchoring the record with his thoughts on love and life, yet sounding relaxed as usual. Halfway through the album, you’d realize each song seems to grow out of the preceding one, like a coral reef blossoming into one body of work.  

Unfortunate and Boy O Boy are perfect for each other, as songs queued on the album. She shares stories of post-relationship sorrows, but in its pure wistfulness, with raw lyrics that paint the perfect picture she wants. With melancholic synth, catchy flow, vocal excellence, and personal cravings, Tems puts it all out there on Gangsta, a song where her demands are heard loud and clear through crackling production giving it the energy it needs. Ready plays like a slightly loopy, potentially improvised soulful song, chugging pleasantly in place of her lover.

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The Grammy-award-winning singer has a close circle, and her chemistry with Ghanaian producer, Guilty Beatz, keeps soaring. The producer oversaw 14 songs on the album, expanding the cool calm vision of their shared sound. Tems herself is credited as a producer, and with GuiltyBeatz at the helm, there’s magic everywhere, you’d think you are at Hogwarts. They revisit the low-tempo sound of their early days but show sonic maturity here, an upgrade that benefitted the debut so well. Their chemistry allows Tems to get outside her comfort zone and glide on T-Unit, posing as a rapper. The energy is not far off on Turn Me Up, she glazes this with her actual Afrosoul approach.  

Some of the finest croonings on this project are stacked on You In My Face, a ballad where she delves into relationship and loyalty with newfound maturity, her writing gleams even brighter here, like a gemstone catching fragments of love’s light. She sums the album up with Hold On,  a record that looks back at her hustle and spirituality, she is filled with faith here, she juggles her lyricism with a laidback production, balancing her feathery vocals with true story-telling.

Born In The Wild draws from jazz, Afrobeats, hip-hop, and soul to create an astounding debut,  a deeply layered and multi-faceted type, with each song building upon the emotional resonance of the last, documenting her past and present, with songs that dissolve seamlessly into a surreal body of work.

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