Knowing how to move in this young and vibrant, yet fast changing Ghanaian music industry is an advantage. Knowing your worth as an artist is the gunpowder to your survival. While some break through by following the latest trends, those who adopt the often long and arduous road to success need to have the patience of a Buddhist monk.
Veterans like Jayso took their time to build their profile before releasing a body of work. Newcomers such as Worlasi, AYAT and to an extent, Adomaa entered the music scene through the ‘backdoor’- they stuck to a certain style and cracked the code. Bryan The Mensah has joined this list.
‘Friends With The Sun’ (FWTS), his eight track EP released on August 5th, is an invitation into Bryan The Mensah’s world and musical journey. He side-steps the usual narratives that rappers of his age indulge in- wild shenanigans, boastful talk, wealth flaunting (which is mostly a faux). Bryan The Mensah rather shares his philosophy in life, friendship, career and his resolve to stay and steer a certain course he deems comfortable.
There’s a lot that has changed about Bryan The Mensah, both physically and mentally since I met him some years ago. This was during his time with the collective called TH’ FRVNCHMN’. Since his transition from ‘Denny. MadeIt’ to ‘The King of Tea’, Bryan has shown glimpses of a wise and matured rapper as evidenced by songs like ‘’The King of Tea’ and ‘Sharp’.
For those who have paid attention to his singles prior to ‘FWTS’ won’t be surprised by the content heard on the EP. For those who followed the rollout of FWTS on twitter, it compares to those done by AYAT and Worlasi. The inspiration behind the EP is summed up in these words:
I really wanted to introduce people to a more unique, personalized and innovative approach to music and creative art in general. I want this EP to inspire anyone who comes across it in anyway possible to be able to find growth from whatever their current predicaments may be.
‘All This Life’, with its brightly laid sounds (hip-hop, electro, house elements) has Bryan The Mensah shifting through the essence of living and striving for the best: ‘Some people wanna live life/some people wanna leave legacy’. As the verse progresses, he comes with the reminder ‘people go feed you with choices but you nor you for make am officially’. This message is further emphasized on another Seyyoh assisted tune ‘Good Design’, a song that seems to be inspired by the notion of ‘we were created in God’s image or perfection’. Here, he aims for perfection: ‘I no really get time for temporary goals/ Everything I do is going gold’. Seyyoh, who I’m hearing for the first time, spreads her soulful vocals over the track.
FWTS isn’t only a display of Bryan’s bravery in terms of sound experimentation. He also brings on board fellow young rappers like Tim Lyre, Fii, Tano Jackson and Kwesi Arthur, who joins him on ‘Darling Falling’; a song that doesn’t deviate from the theme of being great. ‘We come from greatness I know it’, he raps on the song. ‘We ain’t alive to just sit around and congratulate other dudes’. Kwesi Arthur questions the mindset of some Ghanaians who ‘sell our country for coins’ and those who ‘still dey sit on the fence’, watching the rot that is crippling our country.
In the game of love, being real is a must. On ‘Jesse’, he put on display all his cards to the girl he’s after. Tim Lyre with his The Weeknd-esque vocals and Fii help make this radio formatted, afro-dancehall tune a jam. Even in his sleep, his subconscious self keeps reminding him not to fail on ‘Last December’ which features Tano Jackson. Staying focused, knowing what you need and putting in the necessary work is the fuel needed to ignite the fireball of success. Both are expressively laid in its true form on the introspective ‘See The Move’ where he denounces fair-weather friends: ‘Ewiase (world) as you know it is a single man journey/ That be why I dey put only conscious men near me’. On ‘Wallabow You’, he tells a relatively successful guy to leave him alone to his own ways- moving at his own pace, direction and systematic growth: this thing no be competition/If you get your wave masa go catch fish with it’, he raps.
It’s on the deep cut, a potential anthem that he declares his true intentions. ‘Pop Mandem’ carries an infectious vibe thanks to its catchy hook. It reveals a self-conscious Bryan who knows his worth: ‘I’ll always stay true…you can’t mix me with the fake dudes’. Putting veteran artiste/producer Jayso is clever. Jayso is one of the few artistes who has stayed on the periphery of fame albeit his enormous contribution to today’s rap scene. Whilst Bryan talks about steering his course, Jayso is a believer in building a compelling catalog and not live for the moment: ‘lately rappers acting phoney here… dropping all these radio singles but they last just for a year’. ‘Pop Mandem’ is Bryan’s own version of ‘Light Up’, where he plays Drake and Jayso takes the role of Hov.
‘Fake it till you make it’ is an unwritten rule in showbiz. Bryan The Mensah isn’t sold on it. He believes in himself and his own greatness as his comments below indicate:
I was inspired to make friends With The Sun by some life experiences of mine. They helped shape my perspective of life now and I really wanted to share them. The purpose of the EP was for me to have an opportunity to fuse all creative concepts with real life situations. I really wanted to introduce people to a more unique, personalized and innovative approach to music and creative art in general. I want this EP to inspire anyone who comes across it in anyway possible to be able to find growth from whatever their current predicaments may be.
Being talented isn’t enough to succeed. Being aware of who you are, knowing the obstacles on you path and embracing them is equally crucial in surviving. Bryan The Mensah is aware of this hence his friendship with the Sun (a metaphor for life’s obstacles). ‘Don’t listen to the ones wey dem no dey agree/(Don’t) listen to the ones dem no dey see/ They just want a life/We just wanna fly/ They just under pressure cos they don’t believe’. A profound reminder.