In 1998, Fela’s album titled ‘Music is the weapon of the future’ was released. For many reasons, the title of the album read varying meanings for different people. Twenty years down the line,
Flash forward to 2018, twenty years later, music has not only become the 'weapon', it is now more or less the must-have ‘weapon’ of many people.
To the left, a little child is being driven to sleep by a lullaby from a doll; to the right, a depressed man is being taught how to smile again by the lyrics of a soulful music; downtown, a hustler’s dream is being fuelled by the beats from fast-track music. And in the ivory towers, the beauty of wealth is celebrated with royalty music. Music not just only a weapon, it has now become a culture.
Olawale Ashimi, more popularly known as Brymo, is one man who has grown from that commercial artist trying to score a hit so the heavy money-pumping brands won’t run to another artist, to that artist whose voice, melody and rhyme finds its way to the loneliest and deepest part of emotions. He is one of the very few whose music would make many listeners take a pen and jotter to write down the words of wisdom coming from his songs. He did not just jump out of the blues into the music space; he had to journey through some burning flames to become who he is today.
How it started
Born on May 9, 1986 in Okokomaiko, a suburb in Lagos, to an Awori carpenter and an Egun trader, Olawale Ashimi, who loves to be called Olawale Olofo’ro, better known as Brymo started making music in secondary school in 1999. The Lagos State University drop-out released his first song which he titled ‘Future’. Growing up as the neighbourhood ‘wahala pikin’, Brymo initially had dreams of playing football but had wake up from that when he listened to his mother sing fuji, and he was inspired to make music.
After dropping his football dream for music, in 2002, he and some of his friends came together to form a musical group called ‘The Aliens’. However, after struggling with some issues in 2004 and 2005, the group parted ways. And with this, Brymo became a solo artist. Eight years after dropping his first song, in 2007, Brymo dropped his debut album ‘Brymstone’. Upon release of the album, according to him he sold 2,000 copies within the first six months and the album got him a marketing deal of N1 million, which did not work out.
The son of a carpenter vs Chocolate City
If Brymo decides to write a biography tomorrow, one page that won’t be missing from his story is his journey through the four walls of Chocolate City, the record label that brought him from obscurity to spotlight after he signed a record deal with the label in 2010.
After blessing Ice Prince with vocals to his hit single ‘Oleku’, on September 18, 2011 Brymo released his second album lead single ‘Ara’ which was produced by Legendary Beats. His sophomore album ‘The Son of A Carpenter’ was released on November 23, 2012 with features from Jesse Jagz, Pryse, M.I. and Ice Prince. Speaking on the album, Brymo said inspiration for the album came as a result of his father’s occupation as a carpenter.
Speaking in an interview with omojuwa,com, he said: “I titled it so, because my father is a carpenter. I was only trying to tell my story and pass a message that irrespective of our backgrounds, we can always be whatever we want to be. I was one of those kids who used to think my parents did not do enough. When I was younger, I was ashamed of my background but thank God, today, I am proud of my parents. I’m proud of Okokomaiko, the neighbourhood, where I grew up and I am proud of my achievements.”
However, while fans were still savouring the album, the singer announced via twitter that he had left Chocolate City just after one month Jesse Jagz, a fellow singer, left. When the news first broke, the record label denied the news saying the singer still had three years left on his contract. Speaking on Brymo’s leaving, Audu Makori, the President of Chocolate City, told Premium Times that “It’s a very clear case of breach of contract and it is in court. If an artiste feels that he is aggrieved, even within the contract, there is a mechanism to resolve issues. When you fail to honour your contract and you abandon it feeling that you have a right, the contract empowers you to go to court and that’s what has happened.”
“We had a discussion at Chocolate City’s office in Lekki in December 2012, when he told me I can leave the label. I was not happy with the way I was being treated by the label and we agreed to stop working together. He was to give me a document to that effect but he later changed his mind,” Brymo told the court in 2014.
Brymo would later tell Toolz in an interview in 2016 that the label and him “had the opportunity to iron it out in court but they fried it up. I don’t know what they did but they definitely spoke to the judge and spoke to the lawyers and scrapped the case. They are lawyers; they can do it”.
Life goes on
With what happened, one’s best prediction would have been that the end of the son of carpenter’s musical career was probably in sight. However, he has not disappointed the world by going into oblivion as per expectations. He remained strong honing his craft and went on to subsequently drop an album.
‘Tabularasa’, an 11-track album was released on October 30, 2014 after his controversial split with his former record label. According to the singer, he got the title for the album after he heard the judge handling his case against his label use it. The album contains tracks like ‘1 Pound’; ‘Je’le O Sinmi’ and ‘Prick No Get shoulder’. The album contains a detailed explanation of the singer’s troubles, joys and the shape his art would take in the nearest future. Songs like ‘Dear Child’ tells children the dangers of being impatient and anxious.
The lyrics to the song read: “Grandma was a very good old lady. She tried and died working to feed her grown babies. From dusk to dawn, she laboured for more. Nothing was okay. Nothing was ever enough. She say time go heal everything, because time go kill everything. She said a lifetime is enough time; Say if you take time you go fit to make time.”
Not done yet, the following year, he released an eight-track album which he titled ‘Trance’. The album was released by American record label, Tate Music Group.
According to Brymo, the album is a “a medley of thoughts based on his experiences”. On May 9, 2016, the now refined Brymo draped his fifth studio album ‘Klitoris’. Esse Kakada, Brymo’s girlfriend, was the only feature on the album. Explaining the reason behind the title, the artiste said: “The album is the key to a certain door I have knocked on for years; and yes it was meant to be sensual. There ought to be two sides to the coin".
And then in 2018, the singer released his sixth studio album, which he titled ‘Oso’, a Yoruba word which mean ‘The Wizard’. The album received critical acclaim. A single off the album, ‘Banuso’ is Brymo’s latest musical project which touches on the importance of “communing with one’s heartland not with mere men”.
The video, which was brilliantly directed by Victor Adewale, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University showed Brymo embracing minimalism by being the only feature in the video.
Brymo — the wizard as he chooses to call himself — has now become the prophet many people seek for advice, because his melody and lyrics bring peace to troubled souls.
Brymo is the preacher without a church with a spice of philosophy. His music stands tall in the confines of providing therapy.