Since debuting on the scene as the fresh yet familiar voice that carried hooks for MI and Ice Prince, Brymo has charted a unique path for himself as an artist. His music has successfully straddled the lines between catchy Afropop on his debut album, The Son of a Kapenta, and alternative-leaning sounds on his later projects.
But being a musical fave doesn’t excuse reckless behaviour. And reckless doesn’t even begin to cover Brymo’s antics since we stepped into 2023.
For those unaware of Brymo’s recent misadventures, here’s a quick recap: He started off the year with a tweet on January 4th that described an Igbo presidency as a “pipe dream” because of ongoing talks about Biafra. For context, Brymo had, in May of 2022, announced his support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. So while his tweet was jarring, it tracked. Supporting a political candidate is a personal choice, but when it starts entering the territory of tribalism, there’s a problem.
While it’s easy to brush off Brymo’s tweet as political banter, ignoring the obvious bigotry attached will be doing a huge disservice to Nigerians, especially those affected by his statement.
There are obvious parallels between Brymo’s bigoted tweets and the recent shit show that was Kanye West’s anti-Semitic meltdown of 2022. After all, these two men have, at different points, described themselves as geniuses way ahead of their time, even when the receipts presented feel rooted in the past rather than future.
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The cascading effects of bigoted statements like Kanye’s were highlighted in a Financial Times report that showed direct connections between Kanye’s outburst and recent anti-Semitic attacks within Los Angeles. This included a group of white supremacists gathered at a busy interstate road with banners that read, “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
Although Brymo’s statements are yet to cause a ruckus of this nature outside of social media, it feeds directly into attacks on Igbos that dates back to even before the Biafran War that started in 1967. Igbo people, especially in the North and West are often treated as non-Nigerians, with statements like, “Go back to Biafra” thrown around casually.
Even online, the discourse often tows the same line when conversations get heated. If you have doubts, peep the outpour of support for Brymo’s statement on Twitter, as it more than rivals any backlash he’s faced so far.
While Brymo might not be the biggest star of the moment, he does have a reasonable amount of influence and reach with almost 500k followers on Twitter alone. That’s more than enough people actively consuming his unprovoked vitriol, which could easily transition from social media into real life.
Kanye has apologised several times, but as of the publishing date of this article, Brymo has done nothing but aggravate the situation further with more incendiary tweets of his own or retweets from people who share his views. In a spree of follow-up tweets, he’s doubled down on his stance.
In response, Charles Ogundele started a petition to prevent the singer from winning the Songwriter of the Year award at the upcoming 2023 All Africa Music Award (AFRIMA). The petition, which Brymo has mockingly retweeted multiple times, currently has over 6k signatures. But even if it works, losing an AFRIMA award is not enough consequence for Brymo, at least, not in my book.
Outside of the ongoing petition and a few tweets scattered across social media, the response to Brymo’s bigotry has mostly been mid. Nigerians haven’t fully grasped the concept of accountability when it comes to celebrities. And the harsh truth is an alarmingly large group of people share Brymo’s beliefs, if not in public, then in their private WhatsApp groups.
The argument for lack of accountability for Nigerian celebrities is not new. Between 2020 and 2023, singer D’Banj was accused of sexual assault, Burna Boy was allegedly involved in a shooting and intimidation case and Kizz Daniel has been called out for problematic lyrics. While Burna hasn’t confirmed or denied his involvement in the shooting, he’s been quick to insult his fans who believed the reports at a concert where he had them standing for over 13 hours before his arrival. These events were quickly brushed aside even before the artist involved dropped another “banger”.
While cancel and woke culture have become little more than internet buzzwords over the years, creating a culture of accountability is still necessary. Following his anti-Semitic statements, Kanye West was dropped by Adidas, Balenciaga, GAP and his former in-laws, the Kardashians. And that’s what I call facing the consequences of your actions.
Because Brymo has no endorsement to his name, I doubt we can follow the same route. But you know what we can do? Not attend shows and stop streaming his music. It might not count for a lot now, but down the line, it’ll hit right where it’s supposed to — his bag.
Over the years, tribalism and bigotry towards the Igbo community have been persistent, and you don’t have to be Igbo to notice. If we sit back and fail to identify, stop, correct and expose Brymo’s statement for what they are — bigoted, as opposed to political — we’ll be continuing a long line of passes that’ve enabled bad behaviour in exchange for good music and vibes.