December 2, 2023

As Tems gears up for the release of her highly-anticipated debut full-length album, “Me & U” serves as a mesmerising tease, with its hypnotic melody, soulful vocals, and captivating visuals to boot. 

By Emmanuel Okoro

The Nigerian sultry and soulful R&B singer, songwriter, and producer Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems, is back in the spotlight with a captivating single, “Me & U”, which is currently sending sensations to audiences worldwide. This is admittedly her first single in a while, after the release of her second extended play, If Orange Was A Place, back in 2021. 

Tems’ rise to fame reached new heights when she collaborated with Afrobeats superstar Wizkid on the Grammy-nominated “Essence”. Since then, the RCA Records signee’s music career has been on a rollercoaster as she continues to collaborate with some of the biggest names in the music industry. 

Her enchanting contribution to Drake’s 2021 single, “Fountains”, and Beyonce’s 2022 track, “MOVE” showcased her versatility and range. However, her hooks for her own 2020 number “Higher”, which was sampled on Future’s 2022 hit single “Wait For U”, earned her the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 and scored her first Grammy award earlier this year.

Noticeably, she has also been nominated at the Oscars for Best Original Song for writing the 2022 single, “Lift Me Up”, performed by Rihanna for Marvel’s superhero film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. Her slew of awards keeps piling up; from the BETs, NAACP, Soul Train Awards, iHeart Radio Awards, ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, and Elle Style, including clinching a spot on Time 100 Next list.

(Read also – Afrocritik Weekly Music Spotlight: Week 24)

Tems’ latest single, “Me & U”, produced by Guilty Beatz, has reignited excitement surrounding her sonorous music. This track is quintessential Tems, reminding us that she has always held her own.

Set against the backdrop of groovy R&B and Afro-Pop elements, characterised by electro-guitar strings and staccato drums rolls, “Me & U” explores themes bordering on self-discovery, sensuality, and ethereal connection with someone she’s fascinated by. When asked about the track, she said “Me & U” is about discovering the real me, building a genuine relationship with the Creator, and gaining a true perception of self”. This sentiment is captured within these lines, “Give me something, I’m lacking/I don’t need nothing, you are my everything.”

Promotional photo for Me & U - Tems - Afrocritik

And what better way to promote the song’s message than through befitting visuals for it? Shot in scenic locations in Malta, the self-directed music video showcases Tems in touch with her sensuality, dancing with an air of carefreeness and an unapologetic sense of self. It also captures empowering scenes with her surrounded by women playing drums, adding depth to the visual narrative. The music video is not only a striking departure from her previous self-consciousness, it sends a powerful message: Tems is self-assured, has always been, and isn’t unafraid of it. 

Tems - Afrocritik

Interestingly, some netizens draw parallels between Tems by the sea and the Yoruba deities: Yemonja (the sea goddess) or Oshun (the goddess of divinity, femininity, fertility, beauty, and love). However, she immediately shut it down with her response

Actually, it’s about Jesus Christ teaching me how to walk on water, to trust Him and not in human understanding. He changed my life. And if you seek Him, He will fill you up too.”

As Tems gears up for the release of her highly-anticipated debut full-length album, “Me & U” serves as a mesmerising tease with its hypnotic melody, soulful vocals, and captivating visuals to boot. 

Emmanuel ‘Waziri’ Okoro is a content writer and journo with an insatiable knack for music and pop culture. When he’s not writing, you will find him arguing why Arsenal FC is the best football club in the multiverse. Connect with him on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde

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