As Teni worked on her sophomore album, 2023’s TEARS OF THE SUN, she was inspired to bring all the changes occurring in her orbit to life with music. “I wanted to just be about myself, and sing about myself, and what’s on my mind,” she tells Apple Music. “Also, there were things that the people in my life were also going through, like heartbreak. I used their experience to write music because obviously, when you love someone and they’re down, you’re down as well. When you’re down, they’re down as well. So this album is about how I was feeling.” Given the glittery framing and polychromatic bangers of 2021’s WONDALAND, the decision to make a pivot to candidly dissecting romance, heartbreak, weight loss and betrayal could have landed anywhere, but Teni’s joie de vivre and powerful narrative style illuminates TEARS OF THE SUN and brings her quirky point of view to the fore. Across 16 songs, Teni sounds carefree and relaxed, infusing her balmy melodies with specifics of her experiences while experimenting with house, folk and alté elements. “Going through all those things brought me full circle,” she says. “The sun revolves, and the sun goes in a circle, but the sun cries too. Even as bright as the sun shines, it goes to sleep at night. So if the sun can give itself grace, you can too.” Read on as Teni takes us through key tracks from TEARS OF THE SUN. “YGBFA” “I recorded the song, A-Z, freestyle. I just wanted a song [in which] everyone could feel free, regardless of what they’re going through, regardless of where they are in their life, regardless of how hard things are, or how much you feel like nobody gets you or nobody understands. Regardless of who you are, just know you’re valid, and freedom starts with you, it’s all you. It’s never about your oppressors. Your oppressors will never give you freedom willingly, you have to take it too. That’s what the song is about, taking your freedom.” “Popo” “For ‘Popo’, I wanted to write a story about how people feel used in love. How you can give your all to a person and, all the while, they were really just playing you. We know people go through that all the time. We’ve experienced it not just with romantic love but with anyone we’ve loved. It’s a human experience. So, yes, it’s about love, but it’s also about everything. It’s about human daily interaction and how we are as humans.. So this is a song that captures emotions and how we get attached to people, even though we know they’re bad for us.” “Jalingo” “I recorded ‘Jalingo’ in my house in Lagos. There was a time when blogs were saying I nearly got kidnapped but I was actually at a show where a fight broke out. A lot was happening and everybody was fighting. It was deep inside one place in Port Harcourt and, for us to leave there, our security officers were shooting. It was chaos in the middle of the night in Port Harcourt. It happened in a village called Buguma. So I wrote ‘Jalingo’ about what happened.” “Holy Matrimony” “I just wanted to write a song about love; about the delicacy of it, but how sweet it is. It’s about being vulnerable with love. There’s a lot that goes into telling somebody that you love them, and telling them all the sweet things. It’s vulnerable, but you’re saying it anyway, because, ‘Hey, there’s only one life. There’s only one life. Why not?’” “Lanke” “I recorded this in LA. I went to see Olamide Baddo; I went to play him the album. Baddo is someone I love and respect and I’ve always enjoyed his music. We wrote ‘Lanke’ together and that was fun. It was produced by Blaisebeatz.” “Control” “I made this while I was in London to mix ‘No Days Off’. After we finished mixing ‘No Days Off’ with GMK, I asked him if he had any beat for me. So he played the beat and we made ‘Control’. I wanted to make a party song that reminds me of early 2000s Nigerian music but also something with a fresh spin. So he played the beat and I just started freestyling.” “Ino” (feat. Mádé Kuti) “I wanted to talk about what happens in Lagos. What Lagos nightlife is like and who the happening people in Lagos are. The song also talks about how anything can happen in Lagos. It’s both sweet and bitter at the same time because, in the clubs, we set the party on fire. In real life, things are on fire. Everything is on fire in Lagos, nothing is ever really calm. So that’s what that song is about. I also wanted a house-EDM type of song that could be played at festivals.” “No Days Off” “I went to see my friend Cruel Santino, who is an amazing musician. As I was leaving him, he told Genio to play a beat. From the door, I just started singing the opening part of the song. I finished the song and laid a part of the hook because it wasn’t complete then. I finished the hook in LA and finished the verse in London. We also mixed it with GMK there.” “Devil Dance” (feat. ODUMODUBLVCK) “With ‘Devil Dance’, I just wanted to let people know that I’m still their leader. I’m amazing and strong and no one should try me. I just needed them to know that I do the devil dance like Mayweather. I’m that motherfucker. I’m not the one you should fuck with, I’m not the one you should test. I’m bad like that and no be mouth. I’m a fucking real gee and no one should try me.” “Malaika” “‘Malaika’ was recorded in LA. I flew out Genio to come be with me in LA and, for three weeks, we didn’t record anything. Then on the day he was leaving, I just came outside to say bye to him because he was leaving to go Naija. He was like, ‘We haven’t recorded anything.’ I was like, ‘Don’t worry; me, I don’t believe in forced vibes.’ In that period, we were building our friendship. We were building a relationship and chemistry. Then I heard a beat as he was going and, as I heard the beat, I said, ‘What’s that beat?’ He told me that the beat disappeared. I was like, ‘No, you must find the beat’, then he found it. He had to leave for the airport, so he didn’t record me. My guy Bunie recorded me and took my vocals. That’s how ‘Malaika’ came about. At first, I was singing about love, but then God just said to me, ‘After everything I’ve done for you on this project, you cannot even give me one song.’ So, I had to make a dedication to God.” “Apata” “Apata is my father’s name. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love him, respect him and appreciate him for always looking out for me even before I was born. So I had to dedicate this one to my dad. Every album I make, every time I speak about myself, I always speak about my dad as well. ‘Apata’ was just a record celebrating his legacy and reminding people that my dad didn’t die in vain. We’re keeping scores but the scores are with his legacy and his bloodline.” “Mecredi” (feat. Tayc) “So for ‘Mercredi’, I went to France. That’s the record I went to France purposely to record with Tayc. I wanted to sing about the days of the week in French, because I don’t know anything in French apart from what I was taught in primary school. So I just sang the days of the week and he told me it sounded great and recorded me. He did his verse too and it’s just a song that talks about loving someone every day of the week.” “How” “I recorded this one in France as well. At that time, I was almost done with the album, but I couldn’t find [the headspace] to put on the finishing touches and pick songs. Then someone tried to block me on something [else] I was working on and it hurt me so much. I was just like, ‘Fuck this shit, I’m just going to put this on a song’—that feeling of being unstoppable and saying ‘I don’t give a fuck’.”

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