Saturday afternoon, we had just had Saturday rice (Editor’s note: I didn’t know there was such a thing as “weekday rice”). I was in the kitchen doing the dishes and a song came on the radio. The song was called “Ara”. At that time, I had already decided on my favourite song for the week. Every week I have a favorite song – you know, #thatsmysong that all women proclaim. This particular song though was about to take the spot for the week because of the meaning behind the song. You see, “Ara” means wonders and at that time, I was about to write one of the most important exams of my life that would get me into university. This song became my own personal theme song because in my fifteen year old brain, I was about to perform some wonders with my grades. This was my first introduction to Brymo. I found out later that he was actually the singer behind the hooks to two of my former “favourite songs of the week”, Oleku by Ice Prince and Action Film by M.I.
I heard other Brymo songs following my discovery that I was fond of but I never really paid attention to them or his artistic trajectory. Four years later when I moved to Canada, a friend of mine, Femi, was obsessed with this Brymo song. The song was titled “Femi”. Femi, my friend believed Brymo wrote this song for him. Once again, I loved this song and it was on repeat for several days. Now, I’m a person who is permanently searching for new music to listen to, so I decided to listen to the album from which this song came from ‘Tabula Rasa’.
“Tabula Rasa” was a work of art. Each song had a separate message and theme as the songs transitioned smoothly throughout the album. He highlights issues ranging from love, adulthood and social justice, while crafting beautiful music to carry the message. What particularly impressed and continues to impress me was the way he flows effortlessly from English to Yoruba and back again. His handle on the Yoruba language, using proverbs and sometimes little anecdotes makes his music come to life.
In the midst of the party songs that have become a Nigerian norm, he is a breath of fresh air. A person who is not conforming to the standard of club bangers, blazing his own trail and who has proven he is commercially viable. He cares about putting out good music and he gets better with each album.
I think it is really refreshing to know that there are Nigerian albums out there that can be listened to without the ‘turn up’ songs and I wish that more people appreciated his style because his music is honestly one of the best to come out of the country.