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Lost Files: BRYAN THE MENSAH'S "Friends With The Sun"

This week, we take a look at BRYAN THE MENSAH'S "Friends With The Sun", a deeply profound and honest body of work.

In August 2017, Ghanian rapper and producer BRYAN THE MENSAH released his debut tape Friends With The Sun. At a runtime of twenty-eight minutes and thirty seconds, the 8-track project was the world’s proper introduction to the eclectic artist after a string of singles dating back to his first offering in 2016. The theme of contentment is the foundation holding up the project - an acceptance of the complexities of life, and the determination to push through regardless of difficulty. For BRYAN THE MENSAH, Friends With The Sun is all about “understanding your fears, challenges & obstacles and making them work for you as an opportunity instead of a hindrance. “So whatever your sun is, paddie am”.

The album starts with “Good Design”, ironically the last song written and produced for the album. In line with the theme, the track details the battle between growth and stagnation in our lives as humans. Featuring Seyyoh, he acknowledges the existence of these two facets of life, but is unyielding in his conclusion: step up or step out:

“If you ain’t building, better step aside

Cos we just trynna grow nana

Everybro e dey here came alone nana

And you ain’t taking nothing with you when you go nana

So me like this I no really dey get the time

For some temporary goals nana”

On “Wallabow You”, he addresses nosey people who have their eyes in everybody’s business and spend time gossiping instead of focusing on their own lives. “Wallabow you?” is a pidgin variation of the question “what about you?” and asks these meddlers to show proof that their lives are perfect as opposed to those who they constantly disturb. Produced by Odunsi (The Engine), the track sees BRYAN THE MENSAH turn preacher, lecturing about the distastefulness of this hypocritical attitude and advising culprits to change their ways.

“See The Move” sees the album make a detour to fake friends and betrayal. Written as a way to work through the emotions of anger and pain he felt after being doublecrossed by people who he thought were his friends, “See The Move” is probably the most emotional song on Friends With The Sun. But detours are not the whole story, and despite his anguish, his desire to mature and grow from things is a priority, and he ends the song by restating his commitment to forging a path for himself while leaving the setbacks behind:

“But I'm mature I go Move silent

Sekov nothing is resolved when you use violence

You dey try explain your body

Well chale cool story

I just hold cups

I don't hold grudges”

Featuring background vocals from BRYAN THE MENSAH’s grandmother, “All This Life” depicts life as it is: a bundle of joys, pain and uncertainties. It begins with existential pondering: “Sometimes I dey biz say why say them born me sef” but spills into the focused optimism that permeates the entire body of work: “But we dey so yentumi nfa nky3n.” Starting slow, it quickly becomes upbeat, showcasing the rapping ability of both artists.

We’ve all had those late-night conversations that blur the concept of time and turn hours into minutes. On “Last December” featuring Tano Jackson, the artist relives such a conversation. Sweet and mellow, this track sees BRYAN THE MENSAH drop his fast rapping flow for a singing vibe, showing his musical range.

“So Let's talk till the morning

Even if we start falling

Asleep it ain't nothing

Cos we'll wake in the morning

Knowing that

We woke up from something

Yeah we woke up from something”

The love continues on “Jesse”, a song named after Jessica, a friend who helped him create the beat of the song. In an era of rushed relationships and ulterior motives, BRYAN THE MENSAH tries to convince a girl he’s interested in that his intentions are genuine. It’s 2021, and the same fears his lover still pervade our spaces today. Featuring solid assists from Tim Lyre and Fii, “Jesse” is an honest shot at love and a life of happiness, with Tim Lyre delivering arguably the best-written verse on the song:

“I know you got questions

We'll figure out the answers baby

You shouldn't have to question

How I feel about you baby

You know I got love for you mama”

“Pop Mandem” featuring Jayso is the penultimate song on Friends With The Sun, and is another example of the 25-year-old's ability to flow on different beats and blend in with a variety of sounds. Produced by Epidemix, the track addresses people who make assumptions about his life without necessarily knowing who he is: “Pop Mandem which means ‘Watch me’ is basically saying, watch me do it all on my own. I didn’t need drugs. I didn’t have to change my personality or the kind of person I was to make music and be great at it. I’m still the same.”

To close out the Friends With The Sun, the artist addresses societal stagnation on “Darling Falling.” “Darling” is a euphemism for Ghana, and the pieces of it falling are the structural foundations needed for development. With businesses in the country existing for the sole purpose of enriching themselves without impacting those at the base of society, BRYAN THE MENSAH sees a systemic failure - one that is a symptom of a larger problem in society - a lack of love and compassion for a fellow man.

A deeply profound and honest body of work, Friends With The Sun was a template for what was to come for BRYAN THE MENSAH’s career: intentionality, versatility, and an insistence on doing things his way while spreading love and positivity along the way.

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