Brymo was recently seen in his latest music video, playing a piano around a bridge in Lagos, butt naked. Whilst the furore is loudest on social media, the consensus on his nudity is still conflicted, somewhere between obscenity and art but the triumph of this campaign is not up for dispute—we are talking about Brymo and this is what matters.
Brymo has taken the non-conformist route to stardom and he has been better for it. Snubbing the wiles of contemporary popular music since the acclaim of assistance on Ice Prince’s ‘Oleku’ and abandoning his earlier tendency for that freaky up-tempo R-Kelly shtick on his debut album Brymstone, Brymo on his latest album, Oṣó, his sixth, has got a few surprises for his ardent listeners.
Hear o ye Brymo Stan: the pace of the music has further dipped into a slower tempo. If you were expecting some easy listening for your tenuous hours in Lagos traffic, this might unsettle you like a Sunday sermon after a pleasurably sinful Saturday. If you were expecting dollops of love songs with cherry scenarios and copious adulation, Brymo’s Oṣó is soulful and haunting and worshipful without being lovey-dovey.
Like on Klitoris, his fifth album, there are 11 tracks, no fillers by way of skits and MikkyMe has all production credits. The shortest track on the album ‘Mama’ is an acoustic guitar-accompanied epistolary song intimating his mother about the socio-political landscape of the society.
The year is 2018, the penultimate year before elections in Nigeria and one can sense this from Brymo’s latest offering. Even on a song like ‘Patience and Goodluck’ which extols virtues, we are reminded of a certain First Couple in Nigeria’s recent democratic history. The album sits confidently where the personal, the political and the cosmic connects.
Take the first song ‘No Be Me’ for instance. Between interludes of guitar licks, Brymo alludes to the haplessness of human existence. It is not contradictory three songs later when he sings on ‘God Is in Your Mind’, “for the first time/God shall be without a face”. In his reckoning of our reality, being flotsams will not be an excuse for diffidence. He requests of us to live robustly in his grizzly and cracked baritone. Referencing physics and philosophy at every whim, Brymo is here to dole out life lessons.
Much later, the album lapses into praise-singing, a Yoruba ethos that is explored even in his deployment of the Yoruba language. He sings the praise of his toddler son on the eponymous ‘Olanrewaju’ and traps in all the pleasures and tenderness of paternal love. This song, brimming with affection, is another kind of love song, one that is growing in popularity in contemporary Nigerian music. Even Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate gets an honourable mention. Ditto for Olusegun Obasanjo. Perhaps for the first time, Brymo seeks into situate his music within a socio-political landscape and he engenders personalities instead of concepts or naturally occurring phenomena.
Of course, there is the lingering concern as to how the album was titled. Since his fourth album Tabula Rasa, Brymo has begun to favour single word titles and we won’t forget the controversial title, Klitoris, in a hurry. By calling his sixth album, Oṣó, Brymo either seeks to nod at the extra-terrestrial or insists on the extraordinary nature of his musical abilities.