Born in the slum city of Okokomaiko, Lagos to a carpenter father and a petty trader mother, Ibrahim Olawole a.k.a Brymo tells the story of how the urge to escape the pangs of poverty urged him to success.
Tell us something new about yourself ?
My real name is Ibrahim Olawale and that’s where I got Brymo from. My dad is a carpenter so I like to call myself the son of a carpenter. He makes furnitures, mends and makes roofs. My mother is a petty trader and I’m an only child.
How does it feel being an only child?
I don’t know. I don’t know how it feels to have siblings, so I don’t miss it.
So what was growing up like for you?
I grew in Okokomaiko. My father is an Awori while my mum is an Egun. The thing about Okokomaiko is that it’s like Surulere where there are certain kids you don’t get to see because they’re in boarding schools. So, there, we have those whose parents are fairly comfortable and those of us whose parents don’t have. And there are kids who don’t sit in the house-they move around and do whatever they like. So kids have varieties to choose from. I had friends who did nothing but played basketball after school. So I hung out with them and watched them play. My first 10 years, was really rough. Whenever I didn’t go to school, I would leave the house by seven in the morning and return at seven in the evening.
And what would you be doing outside?
I’d just get lost somewhere. I had friends I followed to the swamps. We caught fishes, cooked and ate them in an uncompleted building.
And when I got home, my parents wouldn’t really punish me. But at a point, my father realised he would lose me if he allowed me go on like that. Then he started applying disciplinary actions. From then, as soon as I returned from school, I would go for Arabic classes.
Didn’t you envy your rich neighbours?
My mother is a very happy person and you can’t tell she doesn’t have anything. She’s popular too because she’s also into politics. She’s contented with whatever she has and I got that trait from her. Living side by side with the rich inspired me to want to work hard in order to take care of my parents.
So at 17, I’d made up my mind about what I wanted to do. I thought about doing something that’ll give me joy and put money in my pocket. And because people always told me that I have a great voice, I was encouraged and decided to do music. I quit school for it. I was in my second year in LASU.
So how did your parents feel when you quit school?
I don’t know whether quitting school was the right thing for me to have done. But in my first year, I remember that my father and I had a misunderstanding because he couldn’t pay my school fees. He asked me to go and look for other things to do. I was always bullying him before he could pay my school fees. He paid in the first year and in my second year I had to think of a way out. And by that time I already had a video on air and it was on MTV base. And anytime I entered into the school, guys would approach me to give them money. But I hadn’t started making money and still have to give these guys money. That was when I decided to either choose to remain in school or do music.
I didn’t regret it because I knew something good would come out of it.
So how did you get hooked up to Chocolate City?
After the break I had between 2008/2009, early 2010, I got a call from Denrele who was a presenter with SoundCity. He told me that M.I wanted to see me. So I got a phone number and called.
So what did you discuss with M.I?
I called and he asked me to come to the house. When I got there, I met Jesse who told me M.I travelled. So Jesse told me he was trying to put something together and that I should join him. So I recorded my first song with Jesse called Love You inside Jag Of All Trade album.
The album dropped two weeks later. I met M.I a months later. He called me one day and asked me to come to the house. Then we had a long discussion and I got signed on.
And what can you say about your experience with Chocolate City?
Chocolate City is one family and money is the least of our problems. The issue is commitment and the question- do you have what it takes to put out songs that people like. If an artiste does his part then money isn’t the problem.
So have your parents forgiven you for quitting school?
They didn’t like it but I had to convince them that I had to and they’ve forgiven me. I was on radio yesterday and they called my mum and asked her to sing any of my songs. She sang Oleku.
You wrote Ice Prince’s chorus Oleku…
It was a collabo between me, Ice Price and Jesse. Ice Prince already has the “feeling the boy” part on ground. So I put the Yoruba part-we did everything together.
When is your album dropping?