Olawale Ashimi (who prefers to be called Olawale Olofo’ro; born 9 May 1986), better known as Brymo, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and composer. He started recording music in 1999, while in secondary school. He signed a record deal with Chocolate City in 2010, but breached his contractual agreement with the label in 2013. Brymo released his debut studio album, Brymstone, in 2007. His second studio album, TheSonOfaKapenta, was released in 2012. It was supported by the singles “Ara” and “Good Morning”. Brymo’s third studio album, Merchants, Dealers & Slaves, was released on 20 October 2013. It received generally positive reviews from music critics and was preceded by two singles: “Down” and “Eko”. Tabula Rasa was released as the singer’s fourth studio album on 30 October 2014. Its lead single, “Fe Mi”, was described as a “soft traditional ballad”. On 8 December 2015, Brymo released an eight-track compilation album titled Trance. He signed an international distribution deal with Tate Music Group in 2015. Brymo released his fifth studio album, Klĭtôrĭs, on 9 May 2016. It comprises 11 tracks and was preceded by the lead single “Happy Memories”.
EARLY LIFE AND CAREER BEGINNINGS
Olawale Ashimi was born and raised in Okokomaiko, Ojo, Lagos State, to an Awori carpenter father and an Egun petty trader mother. He is the only child of his parents. Brymo grew up in a multi-faith household and learned to recite the entire Qu’ran after being placed into an Islamic School. He went to Aganju Aka Primary School and later enrolled at Japual Primary School. Brymo was quite troublesome while growing up, and got into numerous fights with other kids from his neighborhood. He initially had interest in playing football after graduating from secondary school. In 1999, he recorded his first song while in secondary school and titled it “Future”. In 2002, Brymo and a few of his friends formed a group called The Aliens. Between 2004 and 2005, the group started having problems and eventually disbanded in 2005. Brymo was inspired to create music after listening to his mother sing along to numerous fuji songs. Brymo gained admission to Lagos State University (LASU), where he studied Zoology. He dropped out of LASU after his sophomore year to pursue a musical career. His hastily decision to quit school was a result of his father not being able to pay his school fees.
In 2010, Brymo received a call from Denrele Edun, whom he met few years earlier. Edun asked him if he knew M.I and told him that the rapper was interested in having a discussion with him. In 2010, Brymo got signed to Chocolate City after sitting down with M.I. Prior to his record deal with Chocolate City, he collaborated with Jesse Jagz on the song “Love You” which appeared on the rapper’s debut studio album, Jag of All Tradez (2011).
2007—2012: BRYMSTONE, “OLEKU” COLLABORATION, AND THESONOFAKAPENTA
Brymo released his debut studio album, Brymstone, in 2007. He told Damiete Braide of The Sun that he decided to go the R&B route after being influenced by songs from artists such as R. Kelly and Backstreet Boys. He also told Braide that he sold more than 2,000 copies of the album within six months of its release. In a 2013 interview with The Sun, Brymo said that management problems prevented him from getting a marketing deal for the album. He also said he had a one million naira offer that didn’t pan out due to technical issues.
Brymo was featured 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 that his inspiration for recording the hook of “Oleku” came from the passion and energy around him, as well as from hunger and desperation. He also said that although the song didn’t necessarily generate money, it managed to give him a face.
Brymo released his second studio album, TheSonOfaKapenta, on 23 November 2012. It was initially slated for a 15 November release. The album features guest appearances from Jesse Jagz, Pryse, M.I and Ice Prince. It was recorded in English and Yoruba. On 18 September 2011, Brymo released the Legendury Beatz-produced “Ara” as the album’s lead single. Its music video was directed by AJE films and released on 31 December 2011. In the aforementioned interview with Damiete Braide of The Sun, Brymo said that “Ara” is a slang term that loosely translates to Wonder. In July 2012, he spoke with Adeola Adeyemo of BellaNaija and said that he recorded the song while being under pressure from Chocolate City to submit a single. He also revealed that “Ara” was written six months after he recorded “Good Morning”. On 16 April 2012, Brymo released “Good Morning” as the album’s second single. Its music video was directed by AJE films and released on 30 July 2012. In a 2012 interview with The Punch newspaper, Brymo said that his father’s carpentry profession inspired the album’s title. In the same interview, he described TheSonOfaKapenta as a summary of his life, with each song being a reflection and talent of his energy. Furthermore, Brymo said he recorded the album in order to be identified by his body of work as a lead artist rather than a featured artist. In January 2013, The Nation newspaper included TheSonOfaKapenta on its list of the “Albums that failed commercially in 2012”.
2013—2015: MERCHANTS, DEALERS & SLAVES, TABULA RASA AND TRANCE
Brymo released his third studio album, Merchants, Dealers & Slaves, on 20 October 2013. The album was entirely produced by Mikky Me and features a guest appearance from David. Hard copies of the album were released on 26 March 2014. On 18 October 2013, Brymo revealed the track list for the album on Instagram. The album’s lead single, “Down”, was officially released on 1 October 2013. Its music video was uploaded to YouTube on 30 September 2013. Brymo dedicated the song to his family and country. In May 2014, Nigerian Entertainment Today reported that undergraduate students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale did a lyrical decomposition of “Down” as part of their case study project. The Punch also reported that Brymo was invited to the school to partake in the case study presentation. On 21 October 2013, “Eko” was released as the album’s second single. Critical reception to Merchants, Dealers & Slaves was generally positive. Ayomide Tayo of Nigeria Entertainment Today described the album as a “soulful masterpiece that is emotionally charged with amazing production.”
On 14 October 2014, Brymo was unveiled as an ambassador for the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Brymo released his fourth studio album, Tabula Rasa, on 30 October 2014. Brymo’s manager Lanre Lawal first announced plans for the release of the album during an interview with The Punch in October 2014. Lawal also told The Sun newspaper that the album will be a fusion of African folk and popular music. Brymo told The Nation newspaper that he recorded the album in order to move on from his controversial split with Chocolate City. Brymo decided to name the album Tabula Rasa after hearing the judge used it in a speech. “Fe Mi” was released as the album’s lead single on 18 September 2014. Ayo Onikoyi of Vanguard describes the song as “a soft traditional ballad”. On 6 March 2015, Brymo released a documentary for the song “1 Pound” which was directed by St. Immaculate. A teaser of the documentary was released on 2 March 2015. On 30 March 2015, he released the music video for the song “Ję Lé O Sinmi”. The video, directed by Godson KC Uma of MaadKreativity Inc, runs for a total of 3 minutes and 59 seconds.
On 8 December 2015, Brymo released an eight-track compilation album titled Trance. It was released by American record label and publishing firm, Tate Music Group. The album was originally scheduled for a September 2015 release. It was primarily targeted to audiences in the U.S, and contains songs from the Merchants, Dealers & Slaves and Tabula Rasa albums. Brymo described the album as a medley of thoughts based on his experiences. The album contains elements of African folk, soul, pop, and afrobeat.
CHOCOLATE CITY DEPARTURE
In May 2013, Brymo announced via Twitter that he parted ways with Chocolate City. Audu Maikori, who was the CEO of Chocolate City at the time, refuted claims made by Brymo during a press conference at the label’s office in Lekki. Maikori stated that Brymo still had three years left on his contract, and still needed to record two albums.Vanguard newspaper reported that during the press conference, Maikori revealed that Brymo committed an act of insubordination when he refused to remove an inappropriate picture he posted on Instagram. While speaking to journalists in June 2013, Brymo said that Chocolate City cheated him when they failed to explain how his second studio album leaked. He also said that there was no accountability on how his album was being sold and distributed. In August 2013, it was reported that Brymo signed a distribution deal with Spinlet, enabling the digital media company to distribute his next album online. In October 2013, Nigerian Entertainment Today reported that Spinlet discontinued the deal after Chocolate City made them aware of its existing contract with Brymo. On 14 October 2013, it was reported that Chocolate City filed an interim injunction against Brymo, restraining him from partaking in musical ventures beyond the confines of his contract. On 20 October 2013, Brymo released his third studio album despite reports about an injunction. On 21 October 2013, 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. According to The Nation newspaper, Brymo and his management met with Chocolate City representatives in October 2013 to deliberate on mutually-agreeable terms. Moreover, the newspaper reported that Chocolate City tried getting Brymo to sign an agreement that was captured from the meeting, but to no avail. On 11 November 2013, the Premium Times reported that the legal team from both parties met in court for a hearing; the newspaper also reported that the case was adjourned to 5 December 2013. In January 2014, Vanguard newspaper reported the case was postponed until 14 January 2014, due to the absence of the presiding judge. In February 2014, the Premium Times reported that the case was further postponed to 26 February 2014. It was also reported that the case was postponed for the fourth time due to a heated exchange between the legal team from both parties. In March 2014, the Federal High Court of Lagos lifted the restraint it put on Brymo in October 2013. In May 2014, Nigerian Entertainment Today reported that the judge presiding over the case pulled out after he was accused of being biased. In a radio interview with Toolz in May 2016, Brymo said that he didn’t win the case against Chocolate City. He was quoted as 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.”
Brymo’s fifth studio album, Klĭtôrĭs, was released on 9 May 2016. It was made available for pre-order via iTunes prior to its release. The album comprises 11 tracks and was preceded by the lead single “Happy Memories”. Brymo’s girlfriend Esse Kakada is featured on the song “Naked”. The original artwork for the album was designed by Georgi Georgiev of Moonring Art Design. An edited version of the artwork was done by Duks after iTunes refused to put up the original artwork. In an interview with Nigerian Entertainment Today, Brymo said that the title of the album translates to Key in the Greek language. He also said that the album is an expression of love and the uncertainty of it. He was quoted as saying, “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.”
Brymo’s music is a mixture of fuji, R&B, pop and rock. In the aforementioned interview with Damiete Braide, he said his music can easily be called pop due to its ability of getting across to the people. Brymo’s Merchants, Dealers & Slaves and Tabula Rasa albums have addressed social injustice and chaos that are prevalent in Nigerian society. In a 2016 interview with Okay Africa, Brymo was quoted as saying: “Although my songs reflect many issues which are relevant in my society, I believe that human relations is the site where all issues emerge.”
Brymo has a son named Waju Ashimi, born 27 March 2015. On 12 November 2015, he uploaded pictures of Waju onto his Instagram account for the first time.
- Studio albums
- Brymstone (2007)
- TheSonOfaKapenta (2012)
- Merchants, Dealers, & Slaves (2013)
- Tabula Rasa (2014)
- Klĭtôrĭs (2016)
- Compilation albums
- Trance (2015)