With reviews becoming an incessant part of my career and life, I have come to realize that a review is not necessarily a professional work but rather a personal judgement, a commentary by the author and might not necessarily fit into the validation set by the prism of the readers.
That said, the project under scrutiny today and the artiste, Brymo will for a long time, even after he has stopped making music remain respected. For those who have followed Brymo’s story from his days in Chocolate City, it is without a shadow of doubt that they have realized that for the singer, words are heavy things that should not be thrown around loosely.
Born Olawale Ashimi, Brymo is perhaps one artiste with the most successful and accepted album. Every project he releases his readily appreciated by his teeming fans and music addicts. A narcissist, Brymo never fails to claim he is the best thing after beans and fried potatoes and again, he never fails to disappoint.
In Yellow, Brymo continues his unbroken beautiful album run. He takes words, melody and truth, three imperative ingredients to the kind of genre he plies and sings about love, life, the intricate fabric woven around society, relationship and humans in general.
In this writer’s opinion, Brymo shows that he has grown. He has learnt and his still learning. The album is deep, it is poetry in song.
The album opens with the first track ‘Esprit De Corps’, Latin words and the artiste tries to anyalyze the state of the nation. He talks about how the people who should seek for better living are rather clothed in blackmailing each other. A pitiful situation because in the end “You cry and I cry again”.
In this writer’s opinion, Brymo chooses an ironical title to the message he wants to pass. Esprit De Corps refers to a shared sense of loyalty which in this case, the singer says is absent and will lead the populace to nothing but destruction.
In Blackmail, the singer takes an issue that people only refer to as toxic relationship. Here, he lays it bare for comprehension. The song tells a story. One of the partners suffers from a syndrome, presumably Stockholm and as such uses this to rope the other into sticking with them, much against the partner’s will.
He says “Love is the captivity that lovers chose” and speaks about how it hurts to stay but the blackmail keeps him stagnant and present.
In Ozymandias, I picture two stories. The first is a man who treats his lover without respect but feels he is not doing enough. It is self criticism of the vices he holds dear and the confession that he has to change and be better.
The second is the popular story of Ozymandias, a respected leader but an irrational human. Brymo berates how the world seems to forget all the gracious things he did. He says “History forgets all Ozymandias”. He however says “It’s time for the new. The old rule must go”.
The next track, Heart Break Songs Are Better In English comes across like a response to the popular “Hard men” statement. Society believes and propagates that a man does not cry, that a real man does not betray his emotions openly.
Here, Brymo talks about how his heart has been broken and he feels the emptiness and loneliness that accompanies the emotion. He wants to cry and lay himself naked for the pain to wash over him. He doesn’t know how to speak about this pain gnawing inside him; left with nothing he comes to the conclusion that “Heartbreak songs are better in English”.
Strippers and White Lines speaks about slavery and the mentality and how people are almost never free from it. It is reminiscent of what Alexis Okeowo writes in her book, A Moonless, Starless Sky. How the Haratins in Mauritania almost never recover from their slave mentality.
Smart Monkey is an accapella where the singer teaches the gospel of contentment and satisfaction with one’s own package.
The next track, Without You holds for this writer something deep he cannot fathom. Brymo talks about how life is empty without his lover and hopes that she keeps the same energy as he does.
He says “And I won’t choose this life without you”. The problem is that the relationship rests on shaky ground but he still wants to hold on, wants to believe there is a chance, even though “everyone knows you’ll be safe on your own”.
In Part B of the song, Brymo reverts to Pidgin English. The first track is Woman which comes across like an offering to the singer’s lover. He says “I carry her matter for my head”. The song is a promise of how long his love will last, which is forever. He says he will follow her like “snail and the shell.”
In Black Man, Black Woman, a very simple song where Brymo sings about the distinction and peculiarity of the genders. He talks about the responsibilities attached to each but he also sings about how the black man has evolved and is still growing. Sings about mistakes but how he is undeniably “a black man”.
Gambu is the perfect description of love is blind. The singer talks about how despite the unfavorable character and attitude of his partner, he still readily has space in his heart for this lover. In a sense, Gambu is everyone in love and how we choose to turn a deaf ear to the things that others dislike in our partners. We are their own Gambu.
Rara Rira is easily one of my favorite song on the album. It talks about how life shouldn’t be taken seriously. Life is constantly moving, fleeting and no one can stop it, so why be uptight about it? He says “Life e too short to worry too much and wait for God to come”. On what Rara Rira might mean, it is possibly a string of two words meaning nothing to show how the singer thinks the song’s message is about being carefree and happy, and never fussing about too much.
Brain Gain is the last track in this part. Brymo speaks about how Brain Gain is the most important and quintessential item the country needs. Perhaps, it is a message that knowledge is important especially in a trying time like this and how everyone must need seek carefully for that knowledge because “brain gain na im we need”.
In Part C of the album, all the tracks are in the indigenous language of Yoruba and as Brymo recently said on Twitter, it seems the most interesting for those who are Yoruba.
In the first track, Adedotun, Brymo comes through as a story teller. His strong voice is that whiich can easily keep one await at night. He talks about how how the children of God need not be bothered because like the birds in the air, their creator knows their every need and is poised to fulfill them.
In Orun N Moorun, he talks about the place of gossip and the consequence of the despicable act. He says it should not be advised and promoted. He tells a story of certain chiefs who peddled fake news about the king of a town. When they were called upon to defend their statement, they realized how foolish their actions were.
A F’eedu Fan’na is perhaps my favorite track. Not that this writer is adept at the Yoruba language but the placement of the language and the depth at which Brymo sings with the accompaniment of the trumpet is a soothing relief everytime he listens to it.
Brymo sings about certain cooking tradition popular in Nigeria rural areas. He says whenever we encounter him on the road, we should refer to him as A F’eedu Fan’na. The song is a moral instruction of sort. Brymo talks about the things he wants us to hold dear and believe in.
The last song with Lindsay Abudei is the only track where he features another singer. On this writer’s Twitter page, he had written that Lindsay Adudei haunted him for nights unending, but not in the way haunting is meant to be- horrific. It was that kind of surreal event, a sort of sweet torture, pleasurable pain if you please.
Summarily, it is quite hard to guess why Brymo makes music. Music like this it is easily known might not garner huge commercial success. Is it because Brymo sees it as art? Brymo has always been an artist of many parts; a painter stroking beautiful pictures in each track, a photographer capturing important moments with his voice, a sculptor shaping his message into hearts, a poet seeing words and emotions as sacred and placing them gingerly in each song.
And on this album, Yellow, he does not disappoint. He walks into a dark room and with his voice lights it up. He picks a broken vessel and with poetry makes it whole again. He brings healing; he makes you reminisce, he leaves you broken and then provides the panacea you need for mending. Each song is a journey and Brymo makes sure you enjoy it. Yellow will find a space among Brymo’s other home and know it has found a home.
It is needless to say a beautiful work of art. I rate it a 9/10.
Photo Credit: Twitter