Ọlawale Ọlọfọrọ (born Olawale Ibrahim Ashimi; 9 May 1986),[1][2] who is better known as Brymo, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, sonic artist, actor and author who was born and raised in Okokomaiko. Brymo started recording music in 1999 while in secondary school. He signed a recording contract with music label Chocolate City in 2010 but was accused of breaching his contract in 2013.[3][4] Brymo released his debut studio album Brymstone in 2007. His second studio album The Son of a Kapenta was released in 2012, and was supported by the singles "Ara", "Good Morning" and "Go Hard". His third studio album Merchants, Dealers & Slaves, which was released on 20 October 2013, received positive reviews from music critics and was supported by the singles "Down" and "Eko".

Brymo
Brymo performing "Let Us Be Great" for Ndani Sessions in November 2018
Background information
Birth nameOlawale Ashimi
Born (1986-05-09) 9 May 1986 (age 37)
Okokomaiko, Ojo, Lagos State, Nigeria
Genres
Occupation(s)
Instrument(s)
  • Vocals
  • keyboard
Years active1999–present
LabelsIndependent

In October 2014, Brymo released his fourth studio album Tabula Rasa; its lead single "Fe Mi" was described as a "soft traditional ballad". His eight-track compilation album Trance was released on 8 December 2015. It was primarily targeted at audiences in the U.S., and includes songs from Merchants, Dealers & Slaves and Tabula Rasa. Brymo released his fifth studio album Klĭtôrĭs on 9 May 2016; it was nominated for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2016 and for Album of the Year at The Headies 2018. In March 2018, Brymo released his critically acclaimed sixth studio album Oṣó, which includes a mixture of alternative folk and Yoruba music, and was supported by the singles "Heya!" and "Bá’núsọ".[5][6] Brymo teamed up with three members of Skata Vibration to form A.A.A, an alternative rock band whose eponymous debut Extended Play (EP) was released in August 2019.

Brymo's seventh studio album Yellow was released on 1 April 2020; it was nominated for Best Alternative Album and Album of the Year at The Headies 2020. Brymo released his debut EP Libel on 5 November 2020. The five-track EP was produced by Bigfoot and includes guest vocals from Deborah Prest. In September 2021, Brymo simultaneously released 9: Èsan and 9: Harmattan & Winter as his eighth and ninth studio albums, respectively. His tenth studio album Theta was released on 27 May 2022; it has 10 tracks and is sung entirely in Nigerian Pidgin. Brymo exhibited Mansa, his eleventh studio album and debut as a sonic artist, at KAP Hub in March 2023. He has released books Oriri's Plight (2018), Verses (2020) and The Bad Tooth (2022), and starred in the films Price of Admission (2021) and Elesin Oba, The King's Horseman (2022).

Life and career Edit

Early life and career beginnings Edit

Olawale Ashimi was born and raised in Okokomaiko, Ojo, Lagos State, Nigeria; his father is an Awori carpenter and his mother is an Egun petty trader; he is his parents' only child.[7] Ashimi grew up in a multi-faith household and learned to recite the entire Qur'an after being enrolled into an Islamic School.[8] Ashimi attended Aganju Aka Primary School and later enrolled at Japual Primary School.[2][9]

Ashimi was initially interested in a career playing football after graduating from secondary school.[10] In 1999, while in secondary scholls, Ashimi recorded his first song and titled it "Future". In 2002, Ashimi and some of his friends formed a group called The Aliens; they were active between 2004 and 2005, and disbanded in 2005.[11] Ashimi was inspired to create music after listening to his mother singing fuji songs.[12] Ashimi gained admission to Lagos State University (LASU), where he studied zoology, but after his second year he left to pursue a career in music.[7]

2007–2012: Brymstone, "Oleku" collaboration, and The Son of a Kapenta Edit

Brymo released his debut studio album Brymstone in 2007; its lead single "Shawty" was accompanied by a music video.[13] He told Damiete Braide of The Sun, he chose Rhythm and Blues (R&B) after being influenced by the work of R. Kelly and the Backstreet Boys.[9] He also told Braide he sold more than 2,000 copies of the album within six months of its release.[9] In a 2013 interview with The Sun, Brymo said management problems prevented him from getting a marketing deal for the album and that he had a one-million naira offer that failed because of technical issues.[14] Brymo also said Brymstone is his worst body of work but credits it with helping him enter the music business.[13]

Brymo appeared on the hit single "Oleku", which was released as the lead single from Ice Prince's debut studio album Everybody Loves Ice Prince (2011). Brymo told Tony Erhariefe of The Sun his inspiration for recording the hook of "Oleku" came from the passion and energy around him, and from hunger and desperation. He also said the song did not generate money but gave him exposure.[14] In 2010, Denrele Edun, whom Brymo met a few years earlier, asked Brymo if he knew the rapper M.I, who was interested in talking with him. In 2010, Brymo signed to the label Chocolate City after talking with M.I.[12] Prior to his record deal with Chocolate City, Brymo worked with rapper Jesse Jagz on the song "Love You", which appeared on Jagz's debut studio album Jag of All Tradez (2011).[7]

On 15 November 2012, Brymo released his second studio album The Son of a Kapenta,[10] which includes guest appearances from Jesse Jagz, Pryse, M.I, Ice Prince and Efya.[15] The album was recorded in English and Yoruba. On 18 September 2011, Brymo released the Legendury Beatz-produced track "Ara" as the album's lead single.[16] Aje Filmworks directed its music video, which was released on 31 December 2011.[17] Brymo told Damiete Braide of The Sun "Ara" is a slang word that loosely translates to "wonder".[9] In a July 2012 interview with Adeola Adeyemo of BellaNaija, Brymo said he recorded the song while being under pressure from Chocolate City to submit a single.[18] He also said "Ara" was written six months after he recorded "Good Morning".[18]

On 16 April 2012, Brymo released "Good Morning" as the album's second single.[19] Its music video was directed by Aje Filmworks and released on 30 July 2012.[20] In a 2012 interview with newspaper The Punch, Brymo said his father's carpentry profession inspired the album's title, described The Son of a Kapenta as a summary of his life and said each song is a reflection of his energy.[21] Brymo also said he recorded the album to be identified by his body of work as a lead artist rather than as a featured artist.[21] In January 2013, newspaper The Nation included The Son of a Kapenta on its list of Albums that failed commercially in 2012".[22]

2013–2015: Merchants, Dealers & Slaves, Tabula Rasa and Trance Edit

On 20 October 2013, Brymo released his third studio album Merchants, Dealers & Slaves,[23] which was produced by Mikky Me and includes guitar work from David.[24] Hard copies of the album were released on 26 March 2014.[24] On 18 October 2013, Brymo revealed the album's track list on Instagram.[25] The album's lead single "Down" was released on 1 October 2013, the day after its music video had been uploaded to YouTube. Brymo dedicated the song to his family and country.[26] In May 2014, Nigerian Entertainment Today reported undergraduate students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale had examined the lyrics of "Down" as part of a case-study project.[27] Brymo was invited to the school to attend the case study presentation.[28] On 21 October 2013, "Eko" was released as the album's second single.[29] Critical reception to Merchants, Dealers & Slaves was positive. Ayomide Tayo of Nigeria Entertainment Today described the album as a "soulful masterpiece that is emotionally charged with amazing production".[30]

On 14 October 2014, Brymo was announced as an ambassador for the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.[31] He released his fourth studio album Tabula Rasa on 30 October 2014; earlier that month, his manager Lanre Lawal announced plans for the release during an interview with The Punch.[28] Lawal told The Sun the album would be a fusion of African folk and popular music.[32] Brymo told The Nation he recorded the album to move on from his controversial split with Chocolate City.[33] He decided to name the album Tabula Rasa after hearing the judge use the term in a speech.[34] "Fe Mi" was released as the album's lead single on 18 September 2014;[35] Ayo Onikoyi of Vanguard described the song as "a soft traditional ballad".[36] On 6 March 2015, Brymo released a documentary about the song "1 Pound" that was directed by St. Immaculate; a teaser of the documentary was released four days earlier.[37] On 30 March 2015, Brymo released the music video for the song "Ję Lé O Sinmi"; Godson KC Uma of MaadKreativity Inc directed the video, which runs for 3 minutes and 59 seconds.[38]

On 3 December 2015, Brymo released "Waka Waka", the theme song to the stage musical Wakaa! The Musical.[39] In an interview with newspaper This Day, Brymo said the project's script inspired the song and that he was interested after Wakaa's production team contacted his management.[39] Brymo also told This Day he recorded the song "Viva", which later appeared on the 2016 soundtrack album Wakaa (The Musical).[39] On 8 December 2015, Brymo released an eight-track compilation album titled Trance.[40] It was released by American record label and publishing firm Tate Music Group, and was originally scheduled for a September 2015 release. Trance was primarily targeted at audiences in the U.S., and contains songs from the albums Merchants, Dealers & Slaves and Tabula Rasa.[41] Brymo described Trance as a medley of thoughts based on his experiences. The album contains elements of African folk, soul, pop, and afrobeat.[42]

Chocolate City departure Edit

In May 2013, Brymo announced on Twitter he had left Chocolate City.[43] Audu Maikori, who was CEO of Chocolate City, refuted Brymo's claims during a press conference at the label's office in Lekki.[44] Maikori said Brymo still had three years left on his contract and still needed to record two albums.[44] According to newspaper Vanguard, during the press conference, Maikori said Brymo had committed an act of insubordination when he refused to remove a picture he posted on Instagram.[44] While speaking to journalists in June 2013, Brymo said Chocolate City cheated him when it to explain how his second studio album was leaked, and that there was no accountability in the way his album was being sold and distributed.[45]

In August 2013, Brymo signed a distribution deal with digital media company Spinlet, enabling it to distribute his next album online.[46] Nigerian Entertainment Today reported Spinlet discontinued the deal after Chocolate City made them aware of the label's existing contract with Brymo.[47] On 14 October 2013, Chocolate City filed an interim injunction against Brymo, restraining him from partaking in musical ventures beyond the confines of his contract.[48][49] Six days later, Brymo released his third studio album despite reports about the injunction.[50] On 21 October, a judge at the Federal High Court of Lagos restrained Brymo from releasing and distributing any musical work pending Chocolate City's lawsuit against him.[51]

According to The Nation, Brymo and his management met with Chocolate City representatives in October 2013 to discuss mutually-agreeable terms.[52] Chocolate City asked Brymo to sign an agreement during the meeting but failed.[52] On 11 November 2013, Premium Times reported the legal teams of both parties met in court for a hearing and that the case was adjourned to 5 December 2013.[53] Between December 2013 and March 2014, the case was adjourned four times for several reasons. In March 2014, the Federal High Court of Lagos lifted the restraint it put on Brymo.[54] In May 2014, Nigerian Entertainment Today reported the judge presiding over the case withdrew after he was accused of bias.[55] In a radio interview with Toolz in May 2016, Brymo said he did not win the case against Chocolate City, saying: "we 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."[56]

2016–2018: Klĭtôrĭs, Oṣó and Oriri's Plight Edit

 
Brymo performing "Let Us Be Great" for Ndani Sessions in November 2018

Brymo's fifth studio album Klĭtôrĭs was released on 9 May 2016.[57] It was made available for pre-order via iTunes prior to its release. Eleven tracks comprise the album, whose release was preceded by that of the lead single "Happy Memories". Brymo's girlfriend Esse Kakada appears on the song "Naked".[58] Georgi Georgiev of Moonring Art Design designed the album's original artwork.[59] Duks created an edited version of the artwork because iTunes refused to use the original artwork.[60] In an interview with Nigerian Entertainment Today, Brymo said the album's title means key in the Greek language and that the album is an expression of love and the uncertainty of it.[60] He 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".[60] Klĭtôrĭs was nominated for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2016[61] and for Album of the Year at The Headies 2018.[62]

In November 2017, Brymo said on Twitter plans were underway for his sixth studio album, whose title he announced as Oṣó (Yoruba: The Wizard), and launched a website titled theosoproject.com dedicated to the project.[63] In August 2017, he released the Jazz-infused Afrobeat single "Do You Know Me".[64] Oṣó was released on 27 March 2018; it has 11 tracks, and was produced and mixed by Brymo's frequent collaborator Mikky Me Joses.[65] The album was mastered at Metalworks Studios in Canada. The following day, Brymo released the lead single "Heya"'s music video, which was filmed and directed by NVMB3R Production. The video features Brymo exposing his buttocks while wearing a loincloth to hide his genitals.[66] The video received mixed reviews; in an e-mail to Pulse Nigeria, Brymo defended his decision to expose his buttocks, saying; "I decided to appear how my forebears dressed before the arrival of civilization to Nubian continent".[67]

In September 2018, Brymo released Oriri's Plight, a self-referential fictional novel centred around a young Nubian man of the Dark Ages.[68] The digital version of the book was published worldwide on all digital book platforms and the physical version was published in Nigeria on 4 October 2018.[68] Clockwyce Publishing published and distributed Oriri's Plight.[68]

2019–2021: A.A.A, Yellow, Verses, acting debut, Libel, Èsan, and Harmattan & Winter Edit

In 2019, Brymo teamed up with three members of Skata Vibration to form A.A.A, an alternative rock band that also included guitarist Jad Moukarim, drummer Adey Omotade, and bassist Laughter.[69][70] The band's five-track eponymous debut EP was released on 5 August 2019; it is a fusion of African folk and psychedelic rock. Mikky Me Joses mixed and mastered the EP, which was recorded at Blackstar Studios in Ikoyi, Lagos.[71] Music critic Kolawole Michael said: A.A.A is a "decent experimental piece, a litmus test that foretells what Brymo’s next project may sound like. It's a show of Brymo tenacity, a testament to his songwriting skill and vocal phrasing."[72]

Brymo's seventh studio album Yellow, whose cover art and track list were unveiled in March 2020, was released on 1 April 2020.[73] Brymo said Yellow is about "love and survival", and that it would be an alternative pop and electronic record.[74] Yellow incorporates elements of sentimental ballad, trap, sophisti-pop, shoegaze, rock, synth-pop, and folk music.[75] The album's cover art is Insight and Frustrations 2020, a painting by Nigerian artist Samuel Olowomeye Ancestor.[76] On Instagram, Brymo said he was drawn to the painting after having several conversations with his friends.[76] Nigerian singer Lindsey Abudei is the only artist featured on the album. With the exception of "Abụ Ya", which was co-produced by Nsikak David and Abudei, Mikky Me Joses produced engineered Yellow.[75] The album explores topics such as love, heartbreak, socio-politics, and mental health.[75] Yellow spans three sides and was initially composed of 17 tracks, six of which were recorded in English, five in Nigerian Pidgin, five in Yoruba, and one in Igbo.[77] The album's three sides were numbered in Arabic, Roman and English numerals, respectively.[73] On 24 March, Brymo cited technical reasons for omitting the tracks "Iya Awele" and "Ife" from the album.[78] Yellow was nominated for Best Alternative Album and Album of the Year at The Headies 2020.[79]

In April 2020, Brymo released the e-book Versus, which is alternatively titled Verses (Musings, Notes and Prose).[80] Brymo made his acting debut in Udoka Oyeka's 2021 short film Price of Admission, in which he played Kola, a musician who struggles to get a record deal and attain fame. The film was screened in Lagos on 24 January and premiered on YouTube in June 2021.[81]

Brymo's debut EP Libel was released on 5 November 2020;[82] the five-track EP was produced by Bigfoot and includes guest vocals by Deborah Prest.[83] Its cover art depicts a pair of women's panties, blood, and a broken glass.[83] On the record, Brymo addresses a rape accusation made on social media by a woman.[84] In a review for YNaija, Kola Muhammed said the EP is a "musical diary bearing tales of anguish" and that Brymo "sought to heal himself from the pain of defamation".[84] Pulse Nigeria's Motolani Alake awarded the EP a rating of 8.2 out of 10, saying it is "largely about Brymo's journey back to life, as aided by love".[85]

In September 2021, Brymo simultaneously released 9: Èsan (Yoruba: Revenge)[86] and 9: Harmattan & Winter, as his eighth and ninth studio albums, respectively.[87] Both albums have nine tracks, and include a mixture of alt-rock, R&B, sentimental ballad, and folk music; and are dedicated to Brymo's romantic partner.[86][87] Brymo said both albums are an “ode to every 1, to every SIGMA, woman and man, to order!".[86] He also said both records pay homage to karma and to the seasons.[86] All of the songs on Èsan were recorded entirely in Yoruba, and were produced and mastered by Mikky Me Joses.[86] 9: Èsan was nominated for Best Alternative Album and Album of the Year at The Headies 2022.[88] Bigfoot produced 9: Harmattan & Winter, which was recorded entirely in English; its title symbolizes a transition from insufficiency to sufficiency.[86][87]

2022-present: Theta, Ethos, rebranding, Mansa and Macabre Edit

Brymo's tenth studio album Theta was released on 27 May 2022, along with his third book The Bad Tooth.[89][90] Ten tracks comprise the album, which was recorded entirely in Nigerian Pidgin.[89] Brymo announced the album's track list in a Twitter post;[91] he described it as a "study of humanity's struggles—and a view into what it might have been".[89] Bigfoot produced, mixed, and mastered all of the album's tracks.[92] In a review for The Cable Lifestyle, Fareedat Taofeeq awarded the album seven stars out of 10, calling it a "great piece" and commending Brymo for "maintaining his style and music direction over the years".[89] In a review for Pulse Nigeria, Motolani Alake rated the album 8.2 out of 10, calling it simplistic and noting it often "feels like a fly on the wall".[93] Alake also commended Brymo for not "forcing his opinions, thoughts and views down anybody's throat".[93]

On 12 August 2022, Brymo and rapper A-Q announced on Instagram they would release a collaborative album titled Ethos.[94] Ten tracks comprise the album, which Bigfoot produced.[94] Primarily a hip-hop record, the album contains additional elements of afrobeat, jazz, folk, and R&B.[95] A-Q described the album as "personal stories about life, loss and love".[94] Motolani Alake of Pulse Nigeria rated the album 9.9 out of 10, praising its production and acknowledging both artists for "assuming the positions of philosophers who examined the meaning of life as it relates to self, love, and loss".[95]

In 2022, Brymo starred in Biyi Bandele's Elesin Oba, The King's Horseman, a Yoruba-language Nigerian film that is based on Wole Soyinka's 1975 stage play Death and the King's Horseman.[96] He sang the background music in the film's trailer.[96] The same year, Brymo rebranded himself as a sonic artist. Mansa, his eleventh studio album and debut as a sonic artist, was exhibited at KAP Hub on 3 March 2023.[97] He revealed the album's cover art the previous year and said Mansa would be released in the first quarter of 2023.[98] He also said only one copy of the album would be available for purchase and that it would be sold for $500,000.[98] In an interview with The Cable Lifestyle newspaper, Brymo said Mansa is the first of a three-part sonic project he plans to release in the next three years.[97]

Brymo's twelfth studio album titled Macabre is scheduled for release in December 2023.[97] He made the announcement about the album's release on 8 September 2022.[99]

Artistry Edit

Brymo's music is a mixture of fuji, R&B, pop and rock.[10] He told Damiete Braide his music can be called pop due to its ability to communicate with people.[9] Brymo's albums Merchants, Dealers & Slaves and Tabula Rasa comment on social injustice and chaos that are prevalent in Nigerian society.[8] In a 2016 interview with OkayAfrica, Brymo said; "Although my songs reflect many issues which are relevant in my society, I believe that human relations is the site where all issues emerge".[8] Music critic Michael Kolawole said Brymo's music has doses of "profanity couched in intellectualism and philosophical thoughts".[100] Kolawole also called Brymo's music "affirmations of deep-rooted personal ideology, enigmatic and beautiful lyrical poetry, equations of balanced ribaldry and cheekiness".[100]

Controversy Edit

In January 2023, Brymo announced on Twitter his support for Bola Tinubu in the 2023 Nigerian presidential election and said an Igbo presidency will remain a fantasy as long as there are talks about Biafra in the country's South East. Many of Peter Obi's supporters on Twitter called Brymo's comments offensive and tribalistic.[101] Brymo garnered public support for Tinubu in May 2022.[102] A petition that was launched through Change.org and signed by over 40,000 people called for Brymo's nominations at the eighth annual All Africa Music Awards to be revoked.[103]

Personal life Edit

Brymo has a son who was born on 27 March 2015.[104] On 12 November that year, Brymo uploaded pictures of his son to his Instagram account for the first time.[105]

Discography Edit

Filmography Edit

Books Edit

  • Oriri's Plight (2018)
  • Verses (2020)
  • The Bad Tooth (2022)

References Edit

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External links Edit