Tems performs during Lollapalooza at Grant Park on August 04, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tems performs during Lollapalooza at Grant Park on August 04, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic.

Three Gems We Learned From Tems' Conversation with Kendrick Lamar for 'Interview Magazine'

Tems talks about her journey from Lagos to global stardom in a candid conversation with Kendrick Lamar, revealing the essence of her artistry and passion for music.

Tems spoke with Kendrick Lamar about her childhood and upbringing in Lagos, Nigeria, and how these experiences influenced her music and helped her discover her unique voice. The Interview Magazine feature also delved into her career journey, from being an unknown artist to becoming a global sensation with collaborations featuring artists like Drake and Beyonce. It explored how she navigated her ever-growing success, all before the release of her debut album. Here are three standout moments from her conversation that resonated with us. You can read the full article here.

On discovering her love for music:

Tems: I was an extreme introvert when I was younger. I didn’t really talk much. My mom’s friends would be like, “Yo, Temi, come take a picture,” and I’d just turn around. I’m not sure when the first time I heard music was, but I found myself loving the radio, and I used to hear Celine Dion. Nigerians love Celine Dion. Her songs are very emotional, jump-off-a-cliff-type songs. They entered my soul. I think that’s where my love for music started. And then, when I was nine or ten, I started writing songs, but it wasn’t songs with choruses, it was just verses of things I was feeling. Then I fell into this deep hole of music obsession, and it was the only thing that made me feel alive. I can’t describe the feeling when I first got my first CD. It was a Destiny’s Child CD that was fake, it had 30 songs, and I learned them all.

On venturing into music production:

When I was in uni I only had songs on the piano and the guitar, I never entered the studio. We didn’t really have access to things like that back home, and I wanted something more. Like, “How do I go to the next level of musicality?” I asked a friend, and they were like, “You need a beat, I’ll get you this producer.” Lots of producers I met back then, it was just Afrobeats, the main genre of Nigeria. Afrobeats is very good, but there’s a frequency I was trying to access that I wasn’t getting from them. The long and short is that I felt like I had to do it myself. Part of it also was, when you struggle to find people that believe in you, you go extra hard.

On defining herself as an R&B artist:

Wow. No, this is good. This is really good. 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.