By Ahmad Muto
In December 2020 when the Covid-19 lockdown was still in full effect on concerts, a rather shrewd and daring promoter, Prim Kasana booked Nigerian music sensations Omah Didia Stanley alias Omah Lay and Temilade Openyi alias Tems to headline ‘The Big Brunch’ at Ddungu Resort, Muyonyo.
However, when Bebe Cool learnt that the concert set to happen regardless of the lockdown directives at the time, he took to Facebook to vow that he was going to work tooth and nail to frustrate it. He argued that fellow artistes were unable to perform and were not considered for compensation like other sectors yet two Nigerian artistes were flown in to perform at a concert.
“I have reliable information that there will be a concert in Uganda this Saturday by some Nigerian artistes in Uganda. I beg the organizer to immediately cancel this act with due respect. Am a Ugandan artist and I will stand in for me and my fellow artists who have been stopped from performing in Uganda for all these months due to covid-19 and we respected the rules and regulations.
What hurts me is many other sectors have atleast been compensated but not Ugandan artists. Even if we haven’t been compensated or given any financial help by the government inform of support, atleast let us not be looked down at like that. Many of my fellow Ugandan artists are financially struggling and their careers are at stake and then this, NO. Get this money and pay Ugandan artist only for now if even Covid-19 is not in consideration for this event. Let me hope this is a dream am in coz if its real, I will make every effort to fail this event,” wrote Bebe Cool.
The two Nigerian artistes, their promoter and venue owner Ivan Ddungu were picked up from Ddungu Resort on December 12, 2020 and detained at Katwe Police station, later they appeared before Makindye Grade one magistrate, Jude Okumu Muwone charged them with engaging in an act likely to spread Covid-19. They were remanded to Kigo and Kitalya government prisons. Two days later The Director of Public Prosecutions, Jane Frances Abodo ordered their release and their charges to be withdrawn. Upon release they were taken to the Nigerian Embassy were Bebe Cool was bounced from seeing them and later flown to Nigeria. On setting foot home, Tems took to Twitter bashing Bebe Cool and vowed to face off with him should he ever set foot in Nigeria.
And just then, it was like Kigo government prison unlocked Tems’ music career. Grammy winning afrobeat star, Wizkid got her on his runaway hit song Essence off his Made in Lagos album. Tems watched the song with glee becoming a Billboard darling, entering the World Digital Song Sales chart and the Billboard Global 200. In August 2021, it hit the 13th spot on the Billboard Hot100 and it hit No.1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.
In September 2021 she scored a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! And an interview on Apple Music 1.
In October 2021, the song became the first African song to get certified Platinum in the U.S by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) receiving a Plaque for the feat. On receiving the plaque, Wizkid told Tems it was her time and the world needed to hear from her.
In November 2021, Together with Wizkid they received five nominations in Soul Train Awards for her effort in Essence.
The Essence music video amassed 35 million views in five months. The song also become the most shazamed song in U.S in August 2021.
In the same year, she scored a collaboration with Canadian rapper, Drake on the song Fountain off the album Certified Lover Boy, and the Essence remix with Canadian popstar Justin Beiber. During a chat with BET, she said she cooked chicken stew and rice for Drake and his crew when they met.
Tems was recognized as the Best new artiste at the BET Soul Train Awards, 2022. She was nominated alongside fellow Nigerians CKay and FireBoy DML making her the first African artiste to win the category.
In 2022, Tems career kept soaring. She got to collaborate with American singer Future on the song Wait For U, with Drake off the album I never liked you. In 2023, she won Nigeria its first Grammy by a female artiste in the Best melodic rap category courtesy of the song at the just concluded 65th Grammy Awards.
Now multi award winning American DJ, record executive, producer and rapper Khaled Mohammed Khaled alias DJ Khaled has gone beyond just bowing to greet her and requesting for a hug at the Grammys, he wants to work with the songbird. “I would love to work with Tems. I love her energy. Her music comes from her heart and her soul and I love how she represents her people. I am a fan,” he said.