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I Ditched Afrobeats For R&B Because It’s Not Spiritual – Tems Speaks With Kendrick Lamar



Tems Kendrick Lamar Afrobeats R&B

Nigerian singer Tems, in her latest interview by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, reveals why she chose to do R&B because of Afrobeats lacking spirituality.

For the latest Interview Magazine, the one-time Grammy award-winning superstar sat down with 17-time Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar to discuss ‘inspiration and obsession’.

Kendrick Lamar would like to know how Tems, real name Temilade Openiyi, became an R&B artist when she could’ve been doing Afrobeats, the Nigerian genre.

He asked: ‘How did you go about positioning yourself as an R&B versus someone who could have been put in a box and just focus on where you [sic] from? How did you shape that for yourself?’

She replied that when she began making music, she was ‘prepared to die’, didn’t care about becoming a star or having lots of fans, and only wanted to get ‘a message out’.

She went further that she used to listen to a lot of Nigerian music back in the day; however, it wasn’t ‘intense’ enough and ‘spiritual’ for her, who wanted to do the kind of music that would make her pull out her heart.

Tems Kendrick Lamar Afrobeats R&B
Kendrick Lamar and Tems behind the scenes, for Interview Magazine

She recalled how people advised her that Afrobeats was the only way she could do music and be accepted by Nigerians, but she refused to compromise and make music for just commercial purpose.

She told Lamar: ‘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.’

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