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Nigerian singer Tems briefly spent time in a Ugandan prison, and the “Essence” singer reflected on the stressful moment during an interview with Angie Martinez this week.
The rising star recounted how, amid the pandemic following lockdown restrictions lifting, she was booked for a show in Uganda. Despite receiving permits authorizing the event, she learned “something weird” was happening.
“There was this particular artist — I’m not sure what his role was, but he was basically threatening Nigerian artists like they shouldn’t come,” she said during the interview. After the show, plain-clothed police officers arrested her and her manager. “They just came and said we should follow them.”
“I thought I wasn’t gonna come out,” the “Free Mind” artist said. “I thought maybe I was seeing this for a reason. Maybe this is for me to help these people in this prison.”
The experience was humbling for her and sparked an inner desire for her to modify her aesthetic.
“This new swag of mine is after I did ’cause because I was calm with my dressing,” Tems said. “After, I was like ‘Nah, I’m gonna wear anything I want.'”
Since the ordeal, Tems has been doing phenomenally. In early October, she dropped her first single in two years, “Me & U,” accompanied by a riveting waterside video.
In addition to her latest single, she participated in a conversation with Kendrick Lamar for Interview magazine. During the interview, she spoke about the hardships of fame.
“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 that’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.”
Lamar replied, “I hear a lot of passion to the point I want to hear the album now.”
— TEMS (@temsbaby) October 5, 2023
Given the release of “Me & U,” we’re one step closer to her next full-length project.