“You don’t need no other body,” Tems alluringly croons on “Essence.”
Every artist has that one song that gets snatched away from them by a featured artist. For many people, Essence would be Wizkid’s most obvious ‘one that got away.’ Not that Wiz performed below his usual high standard; in fact, it’s probably the best studio rendition we’ve gotten from him in recent times. But for Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems, she understood what it meant to land a feature on a Wizkid album, and she grabbed the opportunity with both arms.
Tems’ vocal is the most memorable component of the record, and it’s not just because she took the hook, she owned the entire song, making Wiz seem like the guest feature on his own song.
Earlier this year in an interview on the Dotty Show on Apple Music, Tems revealed she thinks she could have done better on the song; she admitted she was prepared to spend more time finetuning her part if not that Wizkid’s team hurriedly told her she had already done a great job- a trait only found in perfectionists. Guess we’ll never know what plans the starlet had for the track.
Produced by Legendary Beatz and P2J, Essence has been dominating world charts, drawing praise all over the world from fans and critics alike. It wasn’t even a lead single when Made in Lagos debuted, but today, it’s the record that’s taking over the Billboard Hot 100, delivering the Holy Grail status of Afro Beats.
Despite the collaboration with Justin Bieber, Tems’ mark on Essence had long been made. Before the release of the collaboration, Bieber referred to Essence as “the song of the summer.” If Tems hadn’t combined to turn the song a fine corner, who says the likes of Bieber would have found the song enticing enough to request a feature?
Up is the only way to go for the 26-year-old singing sensation. In Nigeria’s ever changing musical scene, where a new guard of musicians are expanding the genres and redefining the sounds, Tems is as good a bet as the likes of Omah Lay, Joeboy, Fireboy DML, and of course, a younger Wizkid, to take Afrobeats to new heights and hold it down for as long as she wants.
However, like most good things, Tems’ reputation comes with a caveat– only continuous high standards will be regarded as progress. She must now transcend beyond the singer that’s remembered most fondly due to a feature on a Wizkid track. Not to put too much weight on her shoulders, but in an industry like hers, the more you give, the more the people demand. The task that lies ahead is huge, but one we think she’s definitely capable of.