The Elitism of Brymo’s ‘Oṣó’

The Elitism of Brymo’s ‘Oṣó’

Brymo’s cynicism is almost carefree, his music and philosophy are driven by minimalistic but nearly mischievous creativity. His knack for gimmicks is a plus for someone working outside of the mainstream media, even though his uncanny imagery and high-end ideas have many times been suspected as arrogance. Brymo’s surmised haughtiness might be true, but from an elitist prospect, it might just be the right amount of attitude our pop gravitating culture needs— a flaming style the artiste has remained loyal to. And though, the scuffle with Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City has come and gone, Brymo’s music and style remain unsullied.

What is more interesting is that the artiste has released four bodies of works independently since the fall-out and the results are not short of magic. His latest album, spookily titled ‘Oṣó’ is an ode to our dangerous world; the album is illuminating and soulful with brilliantly corrupted strokes of Yoruba folk sound and styles. But most importantly, Brymo’s elitism pays off greatly in ‘Oṣó’, his mastery of life and brilliant songwriting is what makes it Brymo’s best. It builds on Brymo’s past signature, most recently, his 2016 ‘Klĭtôrĭs’— an album that signalled he has reached his station.

‘Oṣó’ is on a mission to set a standard. In the opener, ‘No be me‘, he is a critical observer, his voice blends with the jazz influence like a solo sax riff. “The man say market no dey sell o/Everything e cost pass before o/But our governor he fat pass before o/One day, my turn go come to chop. The politician say him know the truth/Say nobody wan hear the truth/He take power take bulletproof/Buy properties overseas”. However, Brymo’s lyrical cynicism is more alive in Mama, a short track that should have introduced the album, “The government dey veto dey fuck us o/The thieves still dey shit on the good man o/Mama/The world na the same since you born me for here.”

Heya didn’t meet up to Brymo and his team’s anticipation. Of course, Heya is the song Brymo went butt naked and almost broke the Internet for, so it’s not too critical to worry why the song didn’t live up to its gimmickry. Apart from achieving its purpose of upsurging attention to ‘Oṣó’, Heya is almost inconsequential in its attempt to lean on human relationship and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, Brymo’s songwriting in Heya does not match the brilliance of the solo piano. “Some dey talk and some dey walk and time just dey pass us by”. Despite the staunch philosophical outlook of ‘Oṣó’, the elitism of Brymo’s songwriting falls a little under the standard: his standard, in the album.

However, it will be wrong to say ‘Oṣó’ didn’t score some points in songwriting. In fact, he is more lyrically conscious than usual in Entropy. “And you’re always buzzing like neon… You carry too much weight for love, My mind was always on the run…Took you and left me memories.” Undoubtedly, Brymo wields a poignant sense of imagery, metaphor and simile that will always set him apart from his contemporaries. The flippantly delivered Patience and Goodluck is witty and punchy, “Patience and Goodluck, dem dey close like hair and skin.” It is a brilliant song, in and out of context. Money Launderers and Heartbreakers intends to continue that aesthetic but its aura is preoccupied with its groove, which makes a win. “And all we do is win, win/We grinding when you sleep, sleep”.

Brymo’s elitism stands out graciously in Ọlánrewájú, a Yoruba folktale with talking drums and clever storytelling that reminisces a Nollywood soundtrack. Ọlánrewájú is ‘Oṣó’s’ most original song and Brymo’s most illuminating attempt at a folk song. “Ọlanrewaju ọmọ oba, e ma suure da gba o. Won ni ko ṣe were, roora ṣe, e ma suure da gba o.” Brymo’s gloomy vocals blend seamlessly with the talking drum to create a magical ambience. It is this subtle, albeit euphoric mood that spills onto the next track, Olúmọ, where he is a praise singer in the towns of Abeokuta, Ake and Owu, paying homage to Soyinka and Obasanjo.

We might not be proud of Brymo’s lyrical elitism in ‘Oṣó’ but it sure is enlightening and its ideas are infectious. Perhaps, Brymo’s most philosophical work to date is God is in Your Mind where he takes on the concept of God. However, he is careful not to hit on that sensitive subject too hard but still brilliantly makes a liberal delivery. “For the first time, gods are we, without a face. For the first time, gods are we, without a name…For the first time, God is in your mind.”

The album’s title, Oṣó is the Yoruba word for wizard, which mirrors the drabness of Brymo’s voice when taking on the muddles in our world. ‘Oṣó’ is the peak of Brymo’s rendezvous with his music and philosophy, six years after a career-threatening scramble, but most importantly, it is the peak of Brymo’s ominous elitism.

Some people know say
Say the drug for sorrow na attitude
If you wait, you go soon find out say

Good times go come around again

 

 


Wale Owoade is a writer, music journalist and pop culture critic. His works have been published in African American Review, Transition, Guernica, Bettering American Poetry, Poet Lore, Duende, The Brooklyn Review, and The Collagist. He received the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations and was shortlisted for the 2017 Brittle Paper Literary Awards. In 2016, Owoade won a scholarship from Research and World History Institute (Tokyo) and was invited to attend the 2017 Callaloo Writers Workshop at Oxford University. His works have been translated into Bengali, German and Spanish. He currently writes on music and pop culture for The Afrovibe, Pan-African Music magazine and Omenka magazine.

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