Tems – Born In The Wild

A soulful reintroduction from the Nigerian star...

There are voices, and then there is Tems. The Nigerian star blends the spiritual with the carnal, the introspective with the exuberant; moving between colours and emotions, she blends gospel with R&B, the afrobeats production of her peers with an international outlook. ‘Born In The Wild’ is her debut album, but it’s a soulful reintroduction – a showcase for her voice, her artistry, and also her life.

A weighty 18-track document, ‘Born In The Wild’ stands as a widescreen vision, a profound, engaging, and adventurous survey of her emotional landscapes. Opening with the title track Tems immediately establishes herself as main character, her vocals ringing out true from the speakers. The bubbly ‘Wickedest’ adds some spice to the mixture, and there’s a palpable edge to ‘Gangster’ and her portrayal of life out beyond the edge.

As much as ‘Born In The Wild’ is a showcase for her mellifluous vocals, the record also highlights Tems curatorial skills. One of the most lauded vocal technicians of her generation, Asake lights up ‘Get It Right’, his voice acting as the perfect counterweight to Tems’ soulful exultations. Much-maligned of late, J. Cole impresses on ‘Free Fall’, the feature representing a simple, to-the-point example of why he remains in rap’s top tier.

The closing act of ‘Born In The Wild’ ties it all together. Pulling the rousing narrative towards its climax, songs like ‘Turn Me Up’ and ‘Me & U’ are summer burners, expertly accomplished and crisp in their execution. Closing with ‘Hold On’, this is a rich, velvet-smooth experience, and you’re left to wonder who her peers truly are. The magnificence of Lauryn Hill? The success of Sade? Tems is out there in a lane of her own.

8/10

Dig This? Dig Deeper: Aya Nakamura, Ayra Starr, Tyla

Words: Robin Murray

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