Tems wasn’t playing in 2019 when she told us not to try her.
Tems first caught our attention in 2019 with her defiant hit, Try Me. Since then, she’s blown up big time, moving from an underrated alté artiste to one of Nigeria’s biggest afrobeats exports.Whether it’s dropping songs of the summer back-to-back, with Essence in 2021 and WAIT FOR U in 2022, or becoming the first Nigerian singer to be nominated for an Oscar, Tems is the leading vibe right now, and no one can deny it.
Here are all the times she’s had us calling on the “God of Temilade Openiyi”.
When she wrote Lift Me Up
You just had to have been there the day the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer dropped. We were all happy for Letitia Wright and co., but it was Tems singing a cover of No Woman No Cry that turned Nigerian Twitter upside down.
When she got an Oscar nomination for writing Lift Me Up
It was cool enough to write the official soundtrack for Black Panther and have Rihanna sing it. But just like BNXN, Tems refused to stop. She had to go ahead and get a nomination for Best Original Song at the Oscars, making her the first Nigerian singer to achieve that.
It always takes one person to cross the invisible line, and now that Tems has done it, more Nigerian singers can work towards it too. I love a ceiling-breaking history-making queen.
The time she became the first Nigerian female artiste to win the BET Award for Best International Act
After years of the Best International Act at the BETs rotating between Wizkid, Burna Boy and Davido, Tems pulled up in 2022 and said, “Guys, it’s enough. Even God rested on the seventh day.” Taking home the award alongside another for Best Collaboration for Essence, Tems broke the yoke of the three GOATS. Hallelujah!
The time she told everyone to “move out di way” so she, Grace Jones and Beyoncé could party
Beyoncé is officially Tems best friend in my head, and that’s on period. After years of making the world wait for a new album, Queen Bey AKA Iya Ibeji AKA Mummy Blue finally dropped her seventh album, and guess who was one of the only three artists to feature on the album? Yes, sis, Tems baby.
Not only did Tems co-write the song Move, but she also dropped vocals alongside Grace Jones. Who run the world? Sorry, I couldn’t help it.
The time she got more Grammy nominations than the African Giant himself
Tems is no stranger to the Grammys after being nominated back in 2022 alongside Wizkid for Essence. Even though she lost that Grammy, our girl returned Daft Punk-style, harder, better, faster and stronger, with three nominations in 2023 for the inescapable WAIT FOR U alongside Drake and Future.
Dear Grammys, don’t play with us this year o. We will riot if Temilade leaves that place empty-handed. Shalom.
This cute moment when dog owners found out their dogs had Rebel Gang ID cards
I thought I’d seen it all in this life until I bumped into the TikTok trend where dogs try to harmonise with Tems on her hit record, Free Mind. Now, Free Mind is an Instagram reels and TikTok fave for all those influencers pretending to wake up in front of the camera. But who knew Bingos around the world also loved homegirl, Tems? The power of good music.
When she became the first Nigerian artiste to debut at number one on Billboard Hot 100
It’s one thing to get onto the Billboard Hot 100; I mean, Wizkid, CKay, Rema and Burna Boy have all done it, but to have your song enter at number one? That’s a feat few international acts can add to their LinkedIn. Debuting at the top of the charts in 2022 for WAIT FOR U with Future and Drake, Tems became the first Nigerian to get this major win.
When she also became the first female Nigerian artist to enter the Billboard Hot 100 with no features
When Tems dropped her debut EP, For Broken Ears, in 2020, everyone was obsessed with the song, Damages. Fast-forward to 2022, and Free Mind, a cult fave from the EP, blew up out of nowhere on TikTok, turning Tems into a social media queen. The same song ended up being her first solo entry onto the Billboard Hot 100, and she’s avoided putting out a pointless international remix to keep it on the charts. A true queen with dignity.
Back-to-back lewks on magazine covers, because why not?
Look at the material, and you be the judge of it. We don’t have to say much here.
The times she had Adele and Rihanna fangirling over her
It’s one thing to have fans — shoutout to the rebel gang — but to have Adele singing your song back to you, and Rihanna telling you you’re the shit? Girl, Tems is on another level, and I can’t help but stan.