A Conscious Music Album in a Very Sick Society: An Appraisal of Brymo’s Oso

Shout out to Imrana Bambale, a guy with a fine taste of music. ‘Listen to this album, it’s amazing’, he said to me in one of his many music recommendations entreat. There began my journey into theosoproject. The project is one of the many daring escapades of Olawale Ashimo Olofo’ro, popularly known as Brymo. It consists of an album, a concert and a book; the album is out-which is the subject of this piece, while we still await the book and concert.

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“Oso” is a Yoruba word that loosely translates as “The Wizard”. It is indeed some sort of black magic, what Brymo has done with this album. It is unconventional and eccentric and unknown in the Nigerian Music sphere.
To put up a swift disclaimer, this is not one of those attempts to dictate to people the kind of music they should listen to. Every kind of music has a role to play in the profound field we know as “the music industry”. While sometimes we want to dance aimlessly and have a free madness (shout out to Terry G) other times we want to bundle up with our other, while we cuddle and listen to Adele or The Weekend on weekends (I know, don’t mention it).
But, the bifurcation between conscious and unconscious music is a reality. In the consumerist society we live, it is overly daunting to decide to go into the grim task of writing conscious music. This is because, when you write a conscious music, you appease to a meager class of audience in an ocean of an unthinking majority. It is suicidal and self-destructive. Unless you are Kendrick Lamar, then you defy the laws of nature and go platinum.
What will pass for conscious music in Nigeria are mostly gospel music and music that criticised government of the day by the likes of Fela Kuti (the father of Afro beats), African China, Eedris Abdulkareem, and Oritse Femi to mention a few.
Oso is in all ramifications, a conscious music album. In addition to the textbookish themes of gospel and politics, and oh, love (how could I forget that), Brymo in this album raises both existential and ontological questions. The album is laden with philosophy and radicalism, and it walks us through what it means to be an anti-establishment. For example, in “Time is so kind “, Brymo gives us a tidbit of insight into his fundamental unconventional nature:
“I know I don’t make sense to you
How I just rain like a cloud, it’s true
And everyone is asking me to slow down, it’s a cruise.”

Brymo-Organised-Chaos-Concert-9-

Time as the Most Prevalent Theme in Oso
Brymo seems to have indulged himself into the age long debate of time and space in this album. In several songs, he makes important pronouncements on the concept of time, knowingly or unknowingly, he keeps assuring his listeners of the existence of time and how it is central to the cosmos. He sounded like the ancient Egyptian thinker Ptahhotep, who said:
“Follow your desire as long as you live, and do not perform more than is ordered, do not lessen the time of following desire, for the wasting of time is an abomination to the spirits.”
In “Time is so Kind”, Brymo kept chanting, like an evangelical script:
“We are all blind blind blind
Time is so kind kind kind
And everyone is lost, nobody is found
Time is so kind kind kind”
This personification of time continues in “Heya” where he made time ambulatory, painting a pictorial image of time walking by us, as if, sighing at our sheer disregard of it’s essence.:
“I just dey fall, I just dey rise and time just dey pass us by”
Brymo made continuous mention of time in various contexts in several of the 11 songs in this album. One will be tempted to ask, what is Brymo’s obsession with time. This clarion call to time-consciousness is akin to the saying, “make hay while the sun shines.” He seems to suggest that time is an opportunity that doesn’t linger for long, and failure to carpe diem, might be fatal to man. It is indeed true that man is bound by time and space.

Love as Entropy
There is a gloomy and pessimistic tone with which Brymo engages the idea of love. There is a silent tragedy that is associated with an overt seeking of love at all costs. There is also a blindness and inevitability that overwhelms, eventually. In “Heya”, he blames heartbreaks on ignorance. In ” God is in your mind”, he made a powerful caveat to loving:
“I love to be all that you want me to be
But I am not the same man I used to be ”
He even goes on to tell us that “love is illegal, love is a drug”, ” you love me now and you judge me later”, “we are money launderers and Heartbreakers”, ” but our heart don turn to stone.” Brymo with this tone, reminds us of Shakespeare’s tone with his love dramas and we can see his characters wrestling against all odds for love. In Romeo and Juliet, right before Juliet drank the poison, she lamented:
“Farewell! – God knows when we shall meet again
I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins
That almost freezes up the heat of life ”
But when all hopes seem to have been lost, Brymo seems to submit, in a way that reminds us of the beautiful text of the bible, 1 Corinthians 13:7:
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
It is on this note that Shakespeare and Brymo, conclude their journey of love, Shakespeare in his poem “Carpe diem” writes beautifully:
“O mistress mine, why are you roaming
O stay and hear, your true-love is coming”
“What’s to come is still unsure
In delay there lies no plenty”
And Brymo also seems to have found his love in “Entropy”, where he sang; after all his flights from love, and though his pessimism lingers still:
“And you are always buzzing like neon
I can remember now as the song plays
You became everything I stayed away from “.

Existential Questions in Oso
Soren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher. He proposed that each individual- not society or religion- is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely or “authentically”.
Brymo calls us out for always blaming politicians for our woes, or “pointing fingers at each other”. He reminds us that we didn’t create ourselves neither did we create the world. He went on to suggest in “No be me”, that each individual is responsible for his every action. And that our actions shape our reality.
This is what I guess Brymo meant when he said, “God is in your mind”. He calls for a more individualistic approach in our philosophies. Brymo calls on us to take responsibility for our actions. He sang:
“For the first time, God shall be without a face
For the first time, God shall be without a name
Will no longer, look for self in every mirror
For the first time, God is in your mind”
“You are that someone you are looking for”
These raise deep questions of who we really are and what it is we seek to achieve in this world. This introspection that Brymo calls us to, is similar to that of Tariq Ramadan in his book, “Quest for meaning”, which as humans, is an unending plight.

Humble Beginnings and Meditation:
Another lover of good music I know, a hoarder of Music albums, classic and contemporary, is a High School classmate, Tobi Ojo; he has a twitter trend #daddyojorecommends, where he recommends amazing songs to his verse followers. Reviewing some of Brymo’s songs, particularly, “Olanrewaju”, ” Olumo” and “Ba nuso”, he gave an incite into Brymo’s call for meditation as a means for us to reconnect with our spirituality. Also, how much Brymo appreciates his roots by declaring a song praising his home town ogun state, where lies the great “Olumo rock “.
Tobi Ojo writes: “Patience, persistence, goodwill and honesty are some of the messages highlighted by Brymo in these works.”

On 28th March 2018, Brymo released the video of the lead single to this album, “Heya”, in which he appeared in a G-string like loincloth that exposed his buttocks but hid his genitals, which got him a lot of flacks and umbrages form Nigerians on social media and other platforms. Commenting on his decision, Brymo in an e-mail said: “I decided to appear how my forbearers dressed before the arrival of civilization to Nubian continent”.
This whole saga gives you a glimpse of what it means to be unconventional or dare to be creative in this part of the world. It makes it more plausible that Oso is a rare gem, and has set the pace for similar breakthrough innovations in the creative industry.

 

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Kanye West, My Crush and Plato’s Cave

 

 

So I fell head over heels for this girl. For a very long time, in fact, I was quite scared to approach her and tell her this.

Fast forward to, say… 2 months. I talked to her. It felt good on the first day, just basics… Name, address, I didn’t even collect her number.. Day 2… Hello..hi. It went on and on.

Then we talked again, this time I was trying to find some common grounds; there was none… music, books, movies, politics… None. To be fair to her, she said she sleeps a lot, which is my thing and she cooks a lot, which I don’t. But how do I begin to have a conversation about sleeps with my crush?

I really like(d) her; she’s cute and has a perfect nose, with a kissful lips to compliment it. She’s Kendall Jenner slim, innocent looks, good voice, same height, quite shy etc. But I can’t have a minute conversation with her. I don’t even think she feels my vibes…you know, nothing is more hurtful than a wasted wit, a misinterpreted sarcasm, an unappreciated accent and I have to talk elementarily for her to follow. It was just off.

It’s all the more hurtful, when i think of the days I spent fantasizing about her, how life will be perfect if I get to know her and become friends. Now I know her and she’s probably thinking of me curled on her bed right now; which is a good thing, except that I have ‘moved on’.

I felt something fly out of my chest into thin air that moment when I asked her, curiously, ‘Do you listen to music?’ No. ‘Do you read books?’ No. ‘Do you love movies?’ No. Football? No. Politics? No. I immediately pictured my life with her, married with kids in a small house in lagos; she’s sitting in the parlor and I at the dining room, perhaps with a novel at hand, I read a wittily intelligent piece of writing, but I cannot yell or express my awe, because my spouse won’t understand. Or I listen to a heavenly crafted music on the radio on my way back home and I’m head over heels for this song; getting home, my wife is in the kitchen, pallid of course and I can’t tell her about the song, it’s all BS to her.

Critical thinking time:

I really liked (loved) this girl from a distance, I was sincerely crazy about a stranger (maybe infatuated, if you don’t believe in love at first sight, or whatever – I chose to call it love, for want of a better term). Even after I talked to her for the first time, I was still crazy about her; I went home and wrote in my diary: ‘I talked to my crush today and gawd, it felt good’.

Upon discovering her “flaws”, I got ” disillusioned ” immediately, that crazy reverie just disappeared asap. I let my insecurity take over me, I already catapulted the beautiful young lady to the altar and shoved away her father’s name and put mine behind hers. I fell short of many things that, if I do say so my self, I find very uncritical and unthinking:

1. I didn’t allow “my love” to nurture. I approached her with a bollywood-like mindset of perfectionist love, a mr-right-meets-mrs-right-and-they-were-happy-ever-after state of mind.

2. I had a selfish and perhaps simplistic view of the world and the numerous people that live in it. This dogmatism is even more pronounced if I think of the fact that, earler, I wouldn’t have conceived of a living soul, even hypothetically, who doesn’t do all or any of the above traits which I consider refine, profound and sophisticated; it was the only life I knew. So it was my Plato’s allegory of the cave-like realization moment, it was my realization that our penchant for correctness, completeness and certainty is disgusting and brazenly so, just that we don’t have someone to tell us.

3. I didn’t even aver my mind to the changing nature of human beings. I didn’t care to think of the possibility of her changing because of me (yh…), I didn’t care to find out why she is the way she is and how she is comfortably so. I didn’t bother to learn. I wasn’t open to novelty. In my many years as a liberal and secular values screaming adult, I have never felt so disappointed with myself as I did upon this realization. How I belittled “cooking” and “sleeping” as a strange drive of a person’s life and skyrocketed “books, music…” Etc. is still a misery to me.

But there is a world of difference between sameness and equality. I chide myself for thinking less of her because she dares to be different. We are very much different people, and we have the right to be different. But ultimately we are equal. I also understand why Kanye West lost 9 million followers when he posted a picture of his hat signed by Donald Trump, and started expressing his political views substantially different from that of his vase followers. It raises the question, why did those people love(d) Kanye West? And I ask myself again and again, why did I love(d) this girl?

This, eventually, is a love story never told.

What’s Up

What’s up
What, people care?
The higher the ceiling
the farther the cobwebs
what’s up don’t bite us
what’s up don’t stop us
If I tell you I only look up
in the examination hall
Only look up for cues
Only look up to ask
When life bullies us
Look up for miracles
When the beat stops,
Pretend there was one
When the day ends, on bed
At the regret hour, look up
until a voice from nowhere
says I’m kosher, look up
only when I’m done riding
Look, but not upto the ceiling
It might fall someday, why
Look up, what’s up?
People don’t care about
what’s up, it’s beyond us
Look up, only when you
can reach the Cookie jar
Take a bite and look up
to appreciate the art
then split it apart, move
from left to right, then up
Now you know what’s up.

 

Of Nigeria, and it’s Antecedents

 

You are a god read backwards
reek of things done in peace
but that lavatory I revere a lot
Most ideas in colleges taught
brought before this laboratory
& it’s seats are most often lush
mouth like yours will never flush
When quiet; glares your oratory
You are work on weekends
like unwanted pregnancies
Surely if you happened earlier
I won’t turn on you cavalier
Or see you as President
of Nigeria, and it’s antecedent
You are a stray pet’s pest
determined, and bent
On mediocrity and depravity
A junk unsparing entity
A lowlife in a highlife, an island
in a desert, a desert in an island
A filt in a synagogue, but
for what it is worth, give credit
You’re frugal with your idiocy
and that I give all supremacy
You are a mistake to the right,
left lost for the rest of the night

Yours Truly, Waterfall

But for the sun
You will wet for life
And I will be the stream
My pipe to your mouth
I will sail seas and see
All waters journey yours
truly, waterfall
Awe always ask wherefrom
Spring your rainy day
Rainfall riles only deserts
Sunflower and sun jealous
Sunbeams on speedboats
It’s the season of cats and
Jelly fishes yell, a merry
Toads too tow boats
Naked snakes board the surf
Crocodiles on heavy boots
Match water on its face
Sad storm on safety belt
Thunder on the wagon jump
Waterfall turns rockfall
Blood never sinks, ferry
Not from water, vary

 

Madmen in Suit

 

That poem I wrote
is not to be explained
a visitor that announces
a train arrives a station
a rain in August
don’t scare the birds
but you begged me
as we beg God
you cried, we cry to God
when He dislikes your
face. No amount of begging
will cast the lights on you
& most beseeches
go unattended in heaven
that poem I wrote
is a blind man on the loose
a child can lead, a prostitute
a recidivist and ilk
across the road where
madmen in suit, cruise
I am a man of my world
I will kiss it as my bride
my face full of pride
that poem I wrote
in firm montains and rocks
will be laid bare to you
like the day you were born
traces of sperm on your face
virgin blood on your belly lay
untamed and unsullied
go to stanzas seven and eight
pluck it from it’s tree
watch it’s tree bleed, it’s
leaves threaten to flee
one kisses your feet
two block the road out
the poem I wrote
let truth be told
has strayed from my grip

 

Heaven Wings

My head hurts from bad news
Such that break and forces in
The kind that tells you that
Your dreams are not from
Your sleep. So sleep back
Watch your self dream
From the edge of the bed
Beside the alarm clock stand
Record it on your iphone and
This time, tell your self to smile
In it’s sleep it looks starful
And when about to wake
Go back to your slumber
A photoshoot of yourself
In heaven wings. Wake
When you have had enough
Evidence that my dreams
Are mine and mine alone.