Brymo’s Gambu, history and the psychology of women loving bad guys

Brymo’s Gambu taken off the Yellow album released in the global heat of 2020 was a song enjoyed for its simplicity until Brymo’s recent address to a fan who asked “who’s Gambu?” in a Twitter conversation with the Sonic artiste. Brymo’s response is a revelation of an interesting history of a Northern Nigerian singer, famous and legendary, in Brymo’s words.

Gambo was a Northern Nigerian singer noted for his specialization in singing for thieves, especially robbers and corrupt politicians.

According to a 2016 historical publication by Adelove, Gambu or Gambo, as he is interchangeably called, hailed from Fagada Babba, a town in Jega Local Government Area of Kebbi State, and although he was named Muhammadu at birth, he was nicknamed Gambo after delving into music.

The name started right from when he was taking part in hunting to the time he started singing for gamblers inside the jungle.

Gambo was born in 1936 at Fagada Babba, where he lived as a young child. His father died while he was very young. Muhammadu Gambo grew up in Jega consisting of Fagada, his birthplace.

As a young man, he participated in hunting escapades. He was a good shooter using local rifle. He also engaged in traditional wrestling with his peers. He had a very eventful adulthood, and experimented with many businesses like the sale of sweet, mats, fishing rods and so on.

He also engaged in gambling (why I call him Gambu wey dey gamble) and such other businesses. It is only natural for people with such exposure to relate with thieves and other criminals.

Late Gambo left behind four wives, 16 children and many grand children.

Gambo died in 2016 at the age of 80 as a result of protracted illness and was laid to rest in accordance with the Islamic rites in Maiyama.

Mohammed Gambo.

As quoted lyrically by Brymo’s paraphrastic memoir titled Gambo off the Yellow album, “Gambo, you dey sing for thieves/Gambu you must to sing for me…” This line is the utmost pointer to the everlasting belief that women love bad guys. This belief, when proven, is a practice that is very psychological on the part of the female.

With lyrics like, “Gambu, you dey sing for crooks… I no get stolen boots to pay you/but I go still dey follow you if you swim for shit/love only me and be my own, Gambu,” firstly, we must realize that Brymo narratively embodies a woman (in the first person narration) who blindly loves Gambu, knowing fully well his bad-boyish tendencies, but shunning it with the hope to convert him. The woman’s obsession with the legendary Hausa singer is perhaps what reveals his personality to us.

This is why she reminds him of the dangers of singing for thieves or keeping certain companies, “Gambu, make you no climb on top the hill/Gambu, uphillers dey cruel, dem dey mean”. This proves that these women who choose to love these aggressive men recognize the danger such men constitute. But they don’t care anyway!

Several creative attempts have been made to further prove this syndrome in women, including the movie The Last American Virgin. Why then do many women choose to love the bad guys even when the good ones are dying to please them? Different Psychologists explained this.

According to the materials collected from Good House Keeping, Evolutionary biologists would call “bad boys” hypermasculine, explains Michael R. Cunningham, Ph.D., Professor and Psychologist at the University of Louisville. “These men ooze testosterone, which leads to boldness and is associated with exaggerated sexuality,” he says. They may also be rebellious or emotionally unavailable, says Madeleine A. Fugère, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University and author, Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships.

In the most extreme and negative interpretation, bad guys display qualities of the so-called psychological dark triad, according to relationship researcher and coach Marisa T. Cohen, Ph.D., CPLC. Basically, they might be narcissistic (with a sense of entitlement and a grandiose view of themselves), Machiavellian (callous and prone to exploiting others), and psychopathic (displaying antisocial and impulsive behavior). And yet, sometimes we just can’t quit them.

Brymo’s Yellow album.

Women find the bad boys attractive for the following reasons:

According to Evolutionary Biology and Dr. Fugère, research shows women are more attracted to masculine men during the middle of their menstrual cycle, when they’re most fertile. “Men with very masculine traits may have better quality genes, so it could be attractive to women on an unconscious evolutionary level,” she notes.

That said, when asked what they’re looking for in an ideal partner, women tend to cite nice-guy traits, like honesty, trustworthiness, and respect. “In fact, they usually say they would actively avoid partners who are rude, disrespectful, or physically aggressive,” she adds. “So, on a conscious level, I think most women recognize that bad boys don’t make good long-term partners.”

Also, “Girls possess a range of traits, like rebelliousness,” explains Robyn McKay, Ph.D., Psychologist and co-author of Smart Girls in the 21st Century. “These traits are typically repressed during childhood, as females are socialized to be compliant and agreeable. If a girl’s inner life is unexpressed, she may be drawn to a bad boy as a way of vicariously expressing her own inner rebel.”

Basically, “We’re attracted to qualities in others that we ourselves wish we had,” says Sociologist and Clinical Sexologist Sarah Melancon, Ph.D. “A ‘good girl’ may admire the bad boy’s sense of freedom. Despite the fact that this quality makes him an unsuitable partner for the long-term, it can make him so attractive, it’s seemingly worth the potential pain associated.”

Dr. Cunningham adds, “If females don’t feel strong and independent, they might want someone like that in their lives.”

Norhanie Pangulima, a content ambassador at Hernorm, can relate. She had a “sheltered upbringing” and fell for someone adventurous. “There were times I’d lie to my mom to spend time with him, which made me feel a bit bad, yet free,” she says. Similarly, April J. Lisbon, Ed.D., an Autism Coach Strategist, says she felt trapped growing up with a strict parent and went through a phase of dating drug dealers. “Living on the dangerous side of life was appealing for this church girl who was a ‘nerd,’” she reveals. “I wanted to shed my ‘good girl’ image and define my own freedom.”

“Bad boys can be a welcome change from the usual types of partners,” says Dr. Fugère. Especially if women are bored, adds Dr. McKay, these men can seem “exciting and fun” — but dating them can also come with huge drawbacks, like hurt feelings, fights, or even addictions and criminal records.

For instance, Hypnotherapist Jennifer Schlueter got involved with a bad boy from another country and culture. “The energy between us was explosive, which resulted in incredible sex and adventures, but also fights,” she shares.


Bad boys can seem taboo, which further adds to their appeal. “When we want something we can’t or shouldn’t have, our desire for it grows exponentially,” adds Dr. Melancon, who fell for a bad boy herself. “He ran his own business producing fetish films in the adult film industry, and I was in graduate school studying Human Sexuality. Because he was someone I shouldn’t be with, the chemistry was unlike anything I’d experienced prior! I had a number of people in my life question what I was doing with him, which, in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way, only strengthened my attraction.” But we all know how that ended for Romeo and Juliet.

Women who feel besieged by threats often fall for tough guys, with their disregard for social norms and willingness to quickly escalate frustration to hostility, threats, and aggression, says Psychologist Forrest Talley, Ph.D. “They desire having someone in their life who is tough enough to face the world and punch back when necessary,” he says.

“It’s likely that some women feel more protected by the tough guy and his ease with aggression,” agrees Marni Feuerman, Psy.D., licensed Psychotherapist and author of Ghosted and Breadcrumbed: Stop Falling for Unavailable Men and Get Smart about Healthy Relationships. Of course, there’s no one to act as a buffer if that aggression gets turned around and comes your way.

According to Psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Seide, M.D., bad boys are not inclined to settle down into monogamy so easily. “If you can convince one to commit, it can feel like quite an accomplishment,” she says. “You think that if you can land one, you must be pretty, funny, and smart enough to have won this prize. Unfortunately, due to societal pressures, women are often on an eternal quest for validation and that elusive feeling of being enough. The pursuit of bad boys is just another example of this.”

Falling for these types of men “happens to the most caring and nurturing people,” Dr. Feuerman says. “They want to see the best in others and have difficulty believing that someone can be truly bad.”

Unfortunately, as Dr. Talley points out, it can be a trap. “Seldom do these men allow someone else’s belief in them to precipitate positive change,” he says. “If they did, that would mean they’d become submissive.” Perhaps, this is what the unnamed woman in Brymo’s Gambu hopes to achieve with Gambo, the gambler.

If you also wonder how Gambu was able to attract four different women to marry as his wives, you know how now. Although, we cannot also overlook the history of Nigerian musicians and band leaders of ancient times and their unchallenged practice of polygamy. That is even still more relevant in this present generation. It is now known as the “baby mama” culture by modern singers.

I conclude that the studies of the Psychologists cited in this piece also partly answers why women constitute a larger percentage of the victims of the Stockholm Syndrome.

References: Brymo’s Gambu, Adelove, Good House Keeping and Profiling
Sam George Mac is a music journalist known for the reviews of several music albums and songs. He is a singer and songwriter of Afrobeats, Dancehall, Highlife and RnB with the stage name SGM — a graduate of Mass Communication from The West African Union University, Cotonou.

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