When the two enigmas announced a joint project, the thought that ran through the mind of most music critics isn't a preoccupation with the soundscape that will be explored. It had more to do with the subject matter these geniuses will explore.
While 'ETHOS' denotes the spirit of a time as characterized by the attitude and aspiration of the people, A-Q and Brymo are creatives whose minds are a labyrinth in which presumptuous explorers are bound to go missing.
The importance of the project and its timing in the careers of artists whose arts have earned a spot in the history books wasn't lost on A-Q and Brymo. "This may only happen once in a blue moon," AQ said in 'Won De' , capturing the rarity of the project. "First I got to tell you I'm in rare form" A-Q rhymed capturing the current position of his career where he's enjoying the fruits of his hard work and perhaps a point where he could say the things he wanted and damn the consequences. Brymo supplied a praise chant chorus over Afrobeat progression that offered the ambiance of a self-adulation fuji number.
When torn apart and thrown into bits, this project explores the subject matter of self, love, and loss. So, Ladies and gentlemen, shall we dive in?
On the Philosophical musing of Self: A-Q and Brymo are two acts that had to work twice as hard to rise above the limitations of mainstream appeal and acceptance in an industry where their personalities and artistry made them outliers.
Having found success on their own terms, they offer a reminder of the journey which also reinforces their desire to maintain their ethos. "I don't want to be involved" A-Q repeated in 'Ni Temi' explaining his desire to lead a quiet life away from the news, glamour, and conflicts that characterize the life of a star. His thoughts were echoed by Brymo's chorus who explains that all he cares about is the music.
"A neck full of diamonds is not my design" A-Q says in 'This Is War' explaining that his visions, dreams, and aspirations aren't conditioned by societal standards.
On 'Baale House' A-Q examines life as a Nigerian while considering some of the happenings in Nigeria's political space. The single holds a mirror to a dysfunctional society where crime and corruption are the order of the day.
On the Philosophical musing of Love: In 'ETHOS', A-Q and Brymo offered fragments of their experiences as it relates to their romantic endeavors. In 'Do You Ever Miss Me', a jazz record brought home through the addition of drums, the duo explored the innate simplicity that comes with falling in love and giving oneself to another. In Brymo's chorus, he echoed how like life, the concept of love is simple and only complicated by individual egos are unrealistic expectations. "Tell me do you ever miss me?" A-Q asks a lover who has her guards up and makes it hard to love her.
While 'Do You Ever Miss Me' explores the innate simplicity of love, 'Ife Lakoja Ofin' is a folk song that explores the complications of love or better still, love in its different variants. "Your love language speaks to me different..." A-Q captures the different interpretations love has when examined through unique individual lenses. When we examined some of the lines - "unconditionally love came with conditions..", "Always blind when I type on my keypad…", "type and backspace…", "type of love that ends with a caption…", "You give me love me then try to control me…" - these lines tell a story of the hurt that comes with love while also touching on the transactional nature of modern love.
On the Philosophical musing of Loss: A-Q and Brymo explored some vulnerability on 'ETHOS' as they touch on the subject of loss of friendship, companionship, and family.
BIG FOOT combined subtle strings and chords to create a jazz medley over which A-Q poured out his heart in 'Family First' where he narrates the pain of betrayal and loss. In the tell-all single, he shares the friction in his relationship with friend and long-term collaborator M.I Abaga. He acknowledged his friends and family who have stood by him while offering his success and loyalty as appreciation.
In 'Stay', A-Q lets out the demons in his head and the heaviness in his heart. In a moment of crushing vulnerability, A-Q lets out the feeling of losing his Dad, being an impatient son to his mother, an absent sibling to his brother, and a busy companion to his friend.
The musing on loss continued in 'All By Yourself', where A-Q remembers his bosom friend Beats By Jay whom he lost to Covid-19. In a moving tribute, he remembers the time they spent together and a future snatched by the cold hands of death.
In 'ETHOS', A-Q and Brymo reflected on the subject of self, love, and loss. The project started on a reflective note of the success earned through hard work and a refusal to kowtow to set standards. It streamed into a musing of a desire to love and be loved in a time when love is complicated. And it notably petered out on a sober note that reminds us that success is never sufficient consolation for lost times.
In 'ETHOS', A-Q and Brymo assumed the positions of philosophers who examined the meaning of life as it relates to self, love, and loss.
Sonically identifiable as a Hip Hop project, the producer, BIG FOOT was excellently able to infuse Afrobeat, Jazz, Folk, and R&B elements to create a sonically fluid album that matched the non-conformist artistry of the men involved.
In terms of album sequence and execution, the songs flow from a reflection of self, to love, and loss. Thus taking listeners on a musical journey where each track spills into the next.
On the opening track, A-Q said: "This may only happen once in a blue moon."
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a blue moon. Enjoy!
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 2/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.9/2