If you know us at all, then you know we have been stanning for Bemyoda since forever! We’ve celebrated the release of every single, kept our fingers on the replay button of his previously released (and re-released) EP, gushed over every video, cried over heart-wrenching song lyrics, and greatly anticipated (and by this I mean we’ve held our collective breaths, shamelessly begged, even offered bribes) the release of his LP. We are, without question, unapologetic Bemyoda fans! And with good reason.
A few days ago, Bemyoda’s Stark, the album, finally dropped, and oh my, was this worth the wait! Recorded in 4 cities: Lagos, Abuja, Cleveland, and Nashville, Stark, the 10-track album is everything we want from our music. It is joy, and sadness, and peace, and hope, and love, and breath. From the folkloric melodies of Long Way from Home, to the tears-inducing lyrics of Burn, and the foot-stomping, finger-snapping rhythms of The Other Side of Fear, Bemyoda takes us on a journey through life’s many detours. We love every moment of it.
Before the release of Stark, we were lucky to visit Bemyoda’s three-day exhibition/album-listening event at Red Door Gallery in Lagos. So convinced were we that it would be excellent, we sped down from Ibadan on the last day – narrowly making it. If you were looking for new accolades to place atop this man’s head, then excellent photographer is readily available. The ‘experience’ (and this word is important) had us walk through an exhibition of Bem’s stunning black and white photographs (that boy’s face still haunts) while listening to three selected songs through headphones.
Now, here’s why the word ‘experience’ is important. It’s one thing to listen to a beautiful song, it’s another thing to look at an evocative photograph. It’s an experience when doing both. It is a transcendent experience when both are linked. Each photograph was linked to a song and people hovered over matching songs and photos, the combination of both creating such an explosion of senses that it moved a number of people to tears. The thing about this exhibition is that it let us have a visual peek into what emotions Bemyoda might have surrounded/birthed each song from – and what we saw was glorious, painful, moving.
Trying to explain her teary reaction, ‘P told a friend who asked if it was nostalgia or sadness she was feeling: “Neither. It was an acknowledgement. Your insides know they are experiencing something profound and so the reaction is simply saying: I acknowledge this excellence.”
On the Stark project, Bemyoda says:
“I’ve had to answer the same questions many times over. What does Stark represent? Why Stark? Is the music bare? Or intense? Or dark? Yes, it is. And no, it isn’t. I could’ve called it The Human Condition, but that name was already taken. Stark is about us, about hope and conflict, about life’s twists and turns, renegade men rising to challenge status quo, about man’s need for God, about war, and about growth. Yes, Stark is intense. And spiritual. And honest.”
Produced by another one of our faves, Atta Lenell Otigba, alongside Amos Kantiok, and Paul Scholten, this project is one we are incredibly proud of. One that we know will remain on our playlist for a very long time to come.
‘P & Kov.
(All photos from Bemyoda.)