The afternoon was slowly giving up its brightness when finally I got through to Bryann. With his excitement echoing in the room, we exchanged greetings before he revealed he was in the kitchen frying plantain when my call came in.
It’s that same bubbling excitement that serenades his official debut single, Longe and its accompanying video. Soundtracked by its electrifying drum arrangement and Bryann’s expressive, eclectic vocals, that delightfulness presents itself in the visuals as well. Bryann reveals the song was created in 2019, but it’s not the song’s history that makes it special for Bryann, it’s how the song was manufactured in the first place. “I had been hollering at my people to get me to meet Spax,” Bryann speaks, still reveling in his happiness. “We eventually met, it wasn’t planned. So Spax went out for a break and told me not to touch his laptop. But as a stubborn guy, I still did and I heard that beat, I told him about it later and that’s how Longe came about.”
With a flair for the joyful, thrilling sound which has adorned Afrobeats in the last one year, Bryann stands out from the generation of artists sweating it out in dimly lit studios in the ever-busy city of Lagos. Inspired by Wande Coal, Bryann also adapts Wande Coal’s piercingly sweet lyrical abilities. On Longe, he’s ecstatic making use of his lively vocals to offer a relentlessly merry tune club goers and block party attendees would have reveled in if not for Covid restrictions.
When Bryann was much younger, he enjoyed some early leanings towards music. He was in the choir. He was in the high school band. He was listening to Marvin Gaye. Music was also around him. At home—his dad also absorbing some Marvin Gaye and Musiq Soul Child—plus growing up in a busy locality, FESTAC influenced the kind of music he’s now making.
He calls it “concoction music” when asked what he would describe his sound as. “I’m inspired by Afro juju, RnB, Highlife, Afrobeats, Dancehall, Reggae. A whole lot of genres that I cannot give credit to just one thing.”
In a generation where music isn’t ascribed to only the regular, rudimentary Afrobeats sound, listeners are becoming more receptive to diverse sublets of the genre. More genre definitions are springing up. The music has become more intentional, becoming more personalized with artists infusing their experiences into tracks. Bryann is glad this diversity is happening, telling me about the endless variety present in projects we got last year. “Last year was one of the best year for music, it’s like a wide variant of different artists putting out different styles of music and people are consuming it simultaneously, so it’s a wonderful time.”
A quick check on Bryann’s social media profiles reveal he’s gained recognition from peers in such a short time. His comments section opens up luxury caste of the industry’s elite players. “I be waka waka,” he tells me. “In the course of making music, you eventually meet creatives that are doing the same thing you’re doing. Maybe it’s through somebody, through a mutual contact or you guys just hit each other up on Twitter. That’s how it happened. For example I met London the producer at a writing camp in Zimbabwe, Oxlade was through Spax I think and others happened randomly you know.”
The day begins to gain some darkness when I ask Bryann about uBusted, a collaboration with South African DJ, Maphorisa. I tell him with profound surprise, it’s huge. Not many have a song with a DJ whose production credits include Drake and Wizkid. “Like I said I be waka waka. Somebody played my song for Maphorisa and he heard it and he was like bring this kid to South Africa. I travelled to South Africa and that’s how we made that song. We made it in his house then we went to the club. I did my part in like ten minutes. I didn’t even know how it sounded like properly, that was how fast we made it. We came back from the club and he was like we’re shouting a video for it. Everything just happened super fast.”
But that was in 2018. More than three years now and it’s a much changed Bryann brimming with positivity. He has eyes set on the rest of the year where he’s planning on injecting more strains of his sound into the music space. “There’s an EP coming,” he opens up. Who do you have on it, spill some tea. I asked. “Blaqbonez but there’s another surprise as well, so watch out for that.”
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here