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Nigeria’s Mad Music Scientist Isolation with Brymo

Posted By:  on  April 8, 2020




Nigeria’s Mad Music Scientist Isolation with Brymo

In the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic in Lagos, Brymo cuts a lone figure sitting behind his house and having a small party for one.

It’s a peaceful spot in this large compound, far away from the energy and laughter of his curious kids who want to play chess. His right-hand moves a half- smoked blunt to his lips, where he drags it with relish, smiling as he stands up for a hug. The 33-year-old takes a puff, lets it roll around in his lungs, and exhales.

To conclude the ritual, he sloshes a drink down his throat. “It’s Orijin and coke,” he says, “Do you want one?” “Yes.” “Smoke?” The blunt was offered. “Yes.” His face lights up some more. He beams as he hands it over. Smiling with the happiness of a man who’s just found something in common with a new guest.

Weed can be a number of things, but right now in the uncertainty of the times, it’s a unifier. Lagos, Nigeria is on lockdown to curb the spread of the Coronavirus which has confounded the medical community, decimated the global economy, and altered everyday life as we know it. Brymo was also a casualty. His headline concert in March was postponed to protect his fans from picking up the dreaded virus. To get to his home, I navigated 10 police checkpoints along deserted streets empty of the usual bustling activity. Handing me a glass of his special brew, he sits and retrieves the blunt. Sharing his chair is a copy of Dan Brown’s bestseller novel, Inferno.

“This is one of the few times you should move with the crowd,” Brymo says. “When they say you should stay at home, you should stay at home. It’s as simple as that. I’d never do anything with the crowd but I’d stay home.” Independence. Brymo’s obsessed with it, referring to it by a grander synonym—freedom. You can find it in the centre of his existence and as his sole compass for navigating life.

He acquires this freedom via rebellion, pushing against everything that isn’t in line with his personal choices. As a teenager, he dropped out of university, choosing music over his father’s wish for higher education. As a signed artist of Chocolate City, where he was first introduced to pop stardom, he tore up his comfort, for a life of inspired alternative music.

Even as a large section of music enthusiasts continue to call for him to make music in the vein of ‘Oleku’—his legendary collaboration with former label mate Ice Prince—he’s ignored them. The crowd has never impacted on his personal choices until coronavirus showed up in his city.

After his tumultuous exit from Chocolate City in 2013, and the ensuing legal battle, Brymo flipped the switch on everybody. He abandoned convention, linked up with producer Mikkyme Joses, and launched a creative journey that has so far culminated in five eclectic albums. In that time, he’s deliberately moved away from pop consideration and recreated himself into one of Africa’s most critically acclaimed musicians, focusing on understanding the human experience, relaying it via heartfelt poetic lyrics, ambiguous activism and live performances.

Every show he’s announced since then has been sold out. Every venue packed. Every critic silenced. But it isn’t enough. “Yellow,” his 7th studio album offers another chance for him to further extend his legacy. It was crafted from hedonism, Brymo tells me. After the 2018 release of his 6th studio album Oso, Brymo pursued reincarnation. He spent the next 16 months gliding through secret parties, where the alcohol rained, controlled substances poured, and life was the merriest he’s ever experienced. “Crazy random parties.

Drugs and women. I remember I used to be very direct so I could just offend the women, you know,” Brymo recalls, shaking his head in excitement, the blunt now done. “I’d just say things like you look so beautiful and I want to give you multiple orgasms. And the girl just goes, ‘Brymo you can say that just because you’re a star? You can’t say that to me, that’s rude’. And I’d just go ‘oh I’m so sorry, it’s the alcohol. and it would never happen.’

It was wild. A fucking wild time.” It was also a time when he finally became more vocal about his place in world music. He trumpets himself as the best, champions erotic love, and chastises anyone who dares use the word ‘underrated’ to qualify his art. That energy translates when he speaks. Brymo gets lost in his imagery, walking up and down in erratic movements, charged with passion. To get the interview, I chase him around the space to ensure my audio is intact. In one hour of conversation, we both broke a glass, my phone was knocked out of my hand, and my mind was stretched.

Through it all, Brymo paints a picture of a musical scientist. A mad man with a method. Nigeria’s very own sound maverick.

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