The fissures of love, when it ends could be all consuming, especially when the affair ends without a watertight resolution. Whereas one party would take a walk into the blazing sun, the jilted partner may end up nursing their loss. The relationship after the breakup might never be friendly, again. The bile that it may birth ends up poisoning everything, including good intentions. There have been reported stories of exes visiting life altering actions on their onetime lovers.
But, for Bryan The Mensah, losing a lover might be a painful happening he wishes he had the power to reverse. Above this, he holds no grudges against her. His words on “Bad Zone”, reek of kindness: I know you’ve found someone/no bi you go tell me/ I can see it written all over you/ quit playing, you know say I know you’; Bryan sings with surety and pain. He adds: anyway I dey pray say e go take care of you”.
This painful recount of a potential, blissful relationship that ended abruptly due to ‘all the signs that we missed’ because ‘you were talking to a kid’ is an admittance of naivety and preparedness of both parties. Bryan is the lover who, despite his earlier failed approaches is hopeful of winning her love one day.
“Bad Zone” is the first love themed song off Bryan The Mensah’s sophomore album, “Wildlife”; a ten track album that navigates the genres of hip hop and the soundscape of afrobeats, trap and afro dance.
If “Bad Zone” is a lament over the loss of a lover, the afro dance tune ‘Looking For Someone’ describes his level of emptiness. Bryan and Efya speak from two opposing fronts: he, looking for someone to love; and, she, ready to give her love to someone worthy. ‘I’ve been looking somebody to give me love/somebody to keep me warm’; they sing in unison on the hook. Efya’s soulful tone is the perfect balm the song needed to keep it evergreen. “Dabi Dabi” (One Day) is an assurance of good times to come when ‘dem no go chop gari’. And the Iri Efie assisted “Tell Me” is a celebration of the worth of a woman.
‘Wildlife’, like its predecessor “Friends With The Sun” (FWTS), continues to offer inkling into the mind set of Bryan: self-belief, determination and excellence. He sounds like a veteran who has seen it all before as exemplified on ‘Ask My Friends/Life Is A Distin’ where he invokes the ”if you want to see the effect, you must be the cause’ dictum. He raps over an uplifting beat ‘you should see the signs you know/ be open minded cos there’s a lot to analyse”; a reminder on the need to be patient and find your lane.
Heavy breathing, bird chirps open “Groove”, a song that features EL. The sounds at the beginning is that of a man waking up from a bad dream on a new day. Bryan bets on himself to succeed despite the doubts from his friends: ‘’I go make it sauce/ I go take awards/ freaking legendary’’. This line is important since rappers who rap mostly in English are, per the thinking, bound to fail since people don’t appreciate ‘too much rap’. E.L plays the big brother who cites anecdotes from his career – like being told to sell out instead of rapping about ‘facts’- to assure Bryan to stick to stick to his vision. (It’s an ironic disclosure by EL considering his first hit song, One Ghana (For Your Pocket) tapped into the burgeoning azonto trends).
Songs like ”On My Own” and “Source” celebrate humble beginnings and trusting one’s own process. The infectious trap drums and bounce of “On My Way” doesn’t overshadow the missive about his status despite the earlier difficulties: how ‘I’m buzzing’ more than ‘other acts grinding harder than me’. ‘’Source” apprises the power of giving your all since the ‘blessings go over you’ one day. Both songs are surely bound to be the breakouts of the album. Closing the album is “The Low/Oath”, featuring Ko-Jo Cue; an up-tempo track that advises on keeping your dealings on the ‘low’ (out of public).
Considering the perfect rollout of “Wildlife”- the promotions, anticipation built and hosting of the listening session- the album should have been a perfect piece of work. However, it has some few blind spots. B4Bonah’s verse on “Source” lacks the verve noted on the likes of “Dear God” and “My Girl”. His energy pales in comparison with Bryan’s output. Again, I thought Bryan The Mensah would have blown open the themes on “Wildlife”. But, he kept it straight and narrow on the issues of love and grind.
“Wildlife” is a very excellent output from Bryan The Mensah who didn’t suffer the sophomore curse many artists do incur especially after a decent first album. The album is also an attestation to his ability to make catchy hooks with lyrics that resonates. He also played within his comfort zone -didn’t try to overdo himself by playing to strengths. We all need to be motivated to do both better and learn to follow the paces. Of course, the outcome may not readily manifest but, the glory would show later. That’s what Bryan The Mensah’s “Wildlife” is about.