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B Side, Music

The Pick: Tems’ “Wickedest” Gets the People Excited

Our song of the week!

  • Melony Akpoghene
  • 12th June 2024
Funke Akindele

Tems’ Born in the Wild is a debut album that commemorates the survival from a foundational war tussled on the journey to self-realisation. On several tracks, the raw pain of Tems’ upbringing—marked by indirection and struggle—emerges from beneath the haunting drawl of her mezzo soprano.


But she also pumps the album with some party-starters, layering beats that thrum with low-end bass over crisp percussion. This duality is demonstrated through tracks like “Wickedest.”


Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Tems developed a love for music early on,  taking inspiration from a range of various genres and various artists from different parts of the world. This musical polyglottism is evident in the whole of
Born in the Wild as she draws from the deep well of classics. The samples act as a palimpsest, a lamination of the past upon the present, acknowledging the musical touchstones that combine to influence Tems’ artistic identity.


On “Wickedest”, the singer snatches a sliver of Ivorian zouglou band Magic System’s “1er Gaou,” briefly sampling it in the intro as a subtle homage before she explodes into her own lane. Tems allows the sample to complement a funky groove that positions her at the forefront of a fresh, compelling sound.

With crystal-clear intonation, her vocals are laced with steely confidence, proof of her hard-won success.  “
I rule it, I keep movin’, I been goin’ up the mountain/In my life, no thinkin’ twice”. Tems asserts that despite attempts to undermine her, to “try”, even to “kill” her — she has succeeded and will continue to do so. In fact, she’s only just getting started.

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