Tems was born in Lagos to a Nigerian mother and a British-Nigerian father. Her family moved to England shortly after she was born. When she was five, her parents separated, and she later moved back to Nigeria with her mother and brother. For her tertiary education, she studied Economics at Monash South Africa in South Africa.
In 2018, Tems quit her job to pursue a career in music and recorded her debut single, "Mr. Rebel." In 2021, her second EP, If Orange Was a Place, reached the top ten on the Billboard World Albums chart.
On 21 June 2022, "Free Mind" peaked at number one on the US Afrobeats Songs chart, and on 2 August 2022, it reached number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100. In July 2022, Tems cover of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" for the Marvel movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, was released.
On 14 December 2020, Tems was arrested alongside fellow Nigerian singer Omah Lay after they performed at a show in Uganda.