Tems: Born in the Wild review – the Afrobeats artist levels up in style

Estimated read time 2 min read

Temilade Openiyi’s three-year rise from Lagos buzz to international contender has been vertiginous. The vocalist/producer has already scored one Grammy, plus further Grammy and Oscar nominations for her work with Future, Beyoncé and Rihanna.

After two well-received EPs, Tems’s debut album drops with 18-track swagger and a tiny handful of guests (Asake and J Cole). Born in the Wild runs a little long, but it makes good on Tems’s early promise as a thoughtful writer who retains her voice and Nigerian aesthetic – alté, Afrobeats – while feeling right at home in US soul/R&B.

The album is divided between songs about relationships and tracks about making her way in the world. We hear pep talks from her mother and managers (two interludes), and wry or righteous takedowns of partners who have not made the grade (Unfortunate, the stripped-back Boy O Boy). The bangers, though, are even better. Following on from the previously released Me & U and Love Me Je Je, Wickedest is a flex that prominently samples the pan-African 1999 hit Magic System’s 1er Gaou. The assured Turn Me Up feels like a single-in-waiting, and not an unreasonable instruction from an artist levelling up in style.

Source: theguardian.com

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