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Asa’s “Bimpe”: A Narrative Lyrical Analysis

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My faithful Nokia phone must still be wondering why Asa’s Beautiful Imperfection album is still on repeat, three weeks after I uploaded them from an Original CD. (Yes o, O-R-I-G-I-N-A-L). Since penultimate Wednesday when I wrote about “Bamidele”, my favourite song, more than a few people have asked that I do something similar for “Bimpe”, another Yoruba rendition on the album.

Bimpe is an upbeat song, one of the numerous songs on the album that make you want to dance, shoulder-high, and snap your fingers on the street. A playful, yet serious number, it is an indirect warning to a sister-in-law who meddles just too much in her elder brother’s wife’s matters. It brings to the fore, the intricacies and dynamics of the role played by in-laws in the life of a young wife in the Yoruba culture. Also highlighted is the complexity of the human nature; how people seem to be overtly interested in what you do with your life when they hardly have theirs in check. Here goes:

Bimpe n ba mi wi (Bimpe confronts me)
O f’owo si’nu business mi (she meddles in my affairs)
Emi ire ko l’egbe/ o kan s’aju mi bimo ni (we’re not mates, you only gave birth before me)
Mo gbo n’pe on mo mi loju (I hear you eye me with disdain)
O l’anu gboa ni’pa business mi (You talk recklessly about me)
Oro emi ire ko l’eni (Our fight’s not for today)
Egbon re n fe mi ni (I consider that your elder brother’s my husband)

The narrator is presumably a young wife who is subjected to embarrassment by her in-laws, especially, Bimpe, her sister-in-law (her husband’s younger sibling) who meddles in the young wife’s affairs. Young Wife complains, but in the Yoruba culture, you ought to respect your siblings-in-law and refer to them like they were much older than you, even if you are a decade older. Young Wife gets wind that Bimpe’s talking recklessly about her private matters, but she does not confront the suspect openly. The reason? She’s married to Bimpe’s brother!

Egbon re t’on fe mi lowo ni o (It’s just because I’m currently your in-law)
Mo ti ya fun ooo/ egbon re, egbon re ha! (I respect him – your brother; your brother ha!)
E ba mi so fun baby yen/ fun baby yen (Help me tell that babe, that babe)
T’o wole yen (that just entered the room)
E ba n kilo fun/ e kilo fun, yeah (Help me warn her, warn her…)
E ba mi so fun sisi yen (Help me tell that lady)
fun sisi yen to kun atike (whose face is painted her face with talcum)
E ba n kilo fun/ e kilo fun, ye (Help me warn her/ warn her)

Soft electric piano sound rises to underscore the feeling of endearment and sentiment as Young Wife recalls that she is married to Bimpe’s elder brother. But the bitterness continues to grow as the narrator refers to her ‘tormentor’ in the ‘third person’ – a rather distant and somewhat disregarding way to address your relatives. She taps into the power of description to emphasize some of Bimpe’s idiosyncrasies, like ‘plastering’ her face with talcum. In fact, this hints, albeit in a subtle way, that Bimpe is more-or-less lacking in education, exposure, fashion and lifestyle.

Bimpe ri mi fin (Bimpe is disrespecting me)
O wu wa omo lai si imoye (she behaved without understanding)
Mo ronu p’iwa da / omo inu mi l’on ba mi wi (I rethink, ‘cos it’s someone much younger that’s chiding me)
Ile ana more l’Oyo/ won kunkun je m sinmi… (When I even visited my in-laws in Oyo State, they never even let me rest)
Ire o l’aponle/ o de fe ki eyan fe e sile (You’re not worth the respect, but you want someone to marry you into his home?)

She ups the ante here, still fussing over Bimpe’s disrespect, insisting that the accused lacks understanding. She tries to overlook the offense because she deems herself much older, but still recounts how her in-laws did not let her rest but torment her the last time she visited them in their home town in Oyo State. “(Bimpe), you are not worthy of respect and lack dignity, but you want some man to marry you into his home?” Perhaps Bimpe is even a single mother, estranged from her husband… Asa sings the chorus all over again and gives in to a synthesized interlude which helps dissipate some pent-up anger. The music is loud and defiant, making an angry statement. Then she runs through the final round of lamentation with the soothing electric piano (EP) sound leading her in…

Egbon re ton fe mi lowo ni o (it’s your brother who’s my husband)
Mo ti ya fun ooo/ egbon re, egbon re ha! (I respect him- your brother, your brother… ha!)
E ba mi so fun baby yen/ fun baby yen/ t’o wole yen (Help me tell that babe, that babe that just entered)
E ba n kilo fun/ e kilo fun, yeah… (Help me warn her, warn her…)
E ba mi so fun baby yen/ to gb’omo pon (Help me tell that lady with a baby straddled to her back)
T’o kun atike/ e ba n kilo fun/ e soro fun, yeah (talcum on her face, help me warn her, tell her!)
E bami so fun baby yen ko fo s’oke/ k’o fi mi’le (Help me tell that lady to jump up, and let me be)
Tio ba wo k’o la’ri mo’le (If she doesn’t like, she should split her own head on the floor)
E ba mi kilo fun/ ekilo fun (Help me warn her, warn her!)
E ba mi so fun baby yen k’o fo s’oke (Help me tell that lady to jump up)
K’o fi mi’le, k’o rin lo Offa (She should leave me alone, or trek all the way to Offa)
E ba n ki’lo fun, e s’oro fun (Help me warn her, talk to her!)

Young Wife’s infuriation makes her say a lot more bitter things as she ends up asking Bimpe to take a long walk all the way to Offa town (Kwara State). Asa took me in on this one too, and kudos as she ends this energetic rendition by lacing the synthesizer with Young Wife’s anger. Bimpe, where are you!!!!!!!!!!!??????

Photo credit: (c) youri lenquette
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Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. He believes in the inspirational power of words and pictures, which he explores in helping to make the world a better place. He blogs at Gbenga’s Notebook (www.gbengaawomodu.com).

Digital Content Strategist | Creative Writer. Copy Editor. Storyteller. Vocalist. Amateur Pianist. Spoken Word Poetry recording artiste. Lover of Words & Images. #ArsenalFC. Twitter: @gbengaawomodu

48 Comments

  1. simi

    February 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    very lovely,am 1st yeah!!

    1
  2. Iya2

    February 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I think this is my favorite … good job! But I still have not heard Bamidele??

    1
  3. tinu

    February 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Gbenga I love wat ur doin nice nice nice analysis beautiful……… 1st to comment yaaaaay

    1
    • i like i like

      February 24, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      in the words of The Amaka….. NOT QUITE!! LOL!!!

      1
    • Purpleicious Babe

      February 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      lool

      1
  4. Gbemi

    February 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Bimpe is my all time fav Asa song. I love love love it and thanks to Gbenga I won’t be murdering the song anymore 😀
    I love the “Egbon re ton fe mi lowo ni o” line cos it suggests that her brother is just her “current” “at this very moment” lover and so Bimpe’s immunity would only last as long as the love affair.
    This song raises many issues in Yoruba culture. “Emi ire ko legbe, okan shaju mi bi mo ni” refers to how a younger person might be accorded more respect just because she had a baby first. I really like the jabs she takes at Bimpe, who she would probably be expected to call Aunty Bimpe if she was married into a family like my friend’s whose MIL frowns at her calling her SIL who’s way younger by name. I don’t know what she should do seeing as I’m married to a last child. What would you do in a similar situation? Maybe borrow a line from Asa and warn her “K’o fi mi’le, k’o rin lo Offa” 😛

    http://www.gbemisoke.blogspot.com

    1
  5. Temi

    February 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    It’s really nice to know that you listen to readers. Thank you for this. Now I geddit. Yay!

    1
  6. Dolly

    February 25, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Thanks Gbenga i learnt some words i didnt understand. The only error i could find is
    Ire o l’aponle/ o de fe ki eyan fe e sile (You don’t have respect yet you expect someone to marry you inside his house) Weldone, good analysis especially as we the new & young yoruba generation dont find that tradition of calling our younger in-laws some silly aunty and brother, please i say ERADICATE.
    BIMPE has been my favourite even before she released the full album and still is, i definitely relate to the whole story except the investment part, i wouldnt even accept that.

    1
  7. MissMe

    February 25, 2011 at 4:05 am

    I really love this post, you have no idea how helpful this was,lol I love Asa’s music, But my understanding of yoruba begins and ends with the word/phrase fimile everything else. *sigh*

    1
  8. tosin o

    February 25, 2011 at 5:30 am

    nice but ….was hoping to listen to the song as I read the article just like in the case of Bamidele

    1
  9. Temmy

    February 25, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Gbenga kudos!!!good lyrics and interpretation.I luv the song cos it makes me laff….

    1
  10. fokasibe

    February 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Before I even read…..I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!!!!

    1
  11. ty

    February 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

    i frigging love this lady!!!

    1
  12. Hali

    February 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    EPIC! Bimpe, you’ve been warned!

    1
  13. phemmy

    February 25, 2011 at 11:46 am

    not quite right on the intepretation of ‘ O f’owo si’nu business mi (she contributed money to my business)’ which u did literally.Actually meant Bimpe was interfering/meddling in her affairs…like the one in-law whose always the odd one!

    1
    • Gbenga Awomodu

      February 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Phemmy,
      Thanks for that observation! It’s so easy to let it slip because of the fast movement of the sound/lips there… will effect the correction ASAP.
      Warmest regards! 🙂

      1
  14. Ready

    February 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I love this feature (is it a feature?) Whichever way, it’s great. I love Asa’s stuff and both times you’ve done a breakdown of her song, I get a new awareness and respect for her stuff even though I’m Yoruba.

    1
  15. bobbydox

    February 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    this music is classic jare

    1
  16. Oge

    February 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    a beautiful piece truly wonderful wonderful…
    Go Asa, go Asa.

    1
  17. Eby

    February 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Love,love, love the lyrics of this song.Asa is one of my all time favourites.she exudes a cool vibe. Her songs are full of meaning and reflect on a lot of poignant issues facing our society today,yet some are fun and flirty too!!!u go girl!!bravo!!

    1
  18. dee

    February 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Like Gbemi sed the line “Egbon re to n femi lowo ni o”- indicates that Asa/the story teller isn’t married to the egbon in question,they are just dating. It also kinda reflects, as Bimpe has the audacity to meddle in their business
    OR actually…that they are married, but she but yet to conceive for Bimpe’s egbon…and that is why her in-laws especially Bimpe keep talking…Also, I wouldn’t say Bimpe is of a lower class, or lacks taste as the writer describes….I’d see Bimpe to be more..uhm fashiony,heavy makeup, always with so many party-loving friends(gossips). Therefore a reasonable, humble man cant keep up with her, as she is too demanding/stressful….lol…my 2cents.

    1
  19. timi da' uyi

    February 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    The Lyrics genius is at her best again on this one. And Gbenga thanx-a-bunch for enlightenment cos ive always chewed the lyrics of the song.

    1
  20. Pholthar

    February 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Good, cool! I so luv dis song, ve listened to it abt 20 times! Gbenga u tried, bt u translated word for word in some instances. What were you doing when your Yoruba teacher was teaching ‘aayan ogbufo’ in sec school? Gisting, i guess! Serves you right! lol!

    1
  21. Pizzazz

    February 26, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Gbenga Thank you soooo much for this…I remember asking you to analyse Bimpe too and I have to commend you for a job well done, I understood the lyrics but the storyline just wasn’t fitting well but this,honestly has helped. Thanks again

    1
  22. Dosumu

    February 28, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Undoubtedly, this is the BEST Nigerian song I have listened to in the last decade. The introduction of the rock-like beats in the second verse was just phenomenal.
    Asa I love you for this song…
    Truthfully, I don’t give a hoot about Nigerian songs, but this song made me reconsider.
    The lyrical depth is mind blowing, the delivery is world class and the song is dope.
    BN peeps, if you haven’t bought Beautiful Imperfection you are really at a loss. The album is so dope that you wouldn’t skip any song…
    PS: MI Abaga, pls learn from a Legend in the making….

    1
  23. tayoor

    February 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    love this

  24. #1 asa fan

    February 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    i love the fact that nigerians can listen to asa’s music and appreciate it.Asa is the best thing that has come out of naija in a long time,just listening to her Beautiful Imperfection Album is enough to set my mood for the day! love u long time! *kisses*

  25. Teris

    March 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Wow! How very odd. I loved this song forever n went about hassling for a translation which is so at odds with this write up. I was told it had to do with the complainant borrowing/investing d bro’s younger sis’ cash n getting ticked off cos the latter was hassling her for it.

    Interesting.

  26. Teris

    March 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    A much nobler, if sadder interpretation of the song.

  27. Olajde

    March 4, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Nice job Gbenga, but i quite dont agree with the part “Mo ti ya fun ooo” which you interpreted as “I respect him”. Infact, “I respect him” is somewhat the opposite of “Mo ti ya fun ooo”. It simply means “I TEAR FOR AM”, “I VEX FOR AM”, “I RAKE FOR AM”, “I FOUGHT HIM”. Gbenga, just pick any and replace it. “Mo ti ya fun ooo” happens to be my favourite part of d song.

  28. zenny

    March 24, 2011 at 4:18 am

    i love dis babe she’s too great..<3

  29. Mary

    March 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Wow! It’s all I can say. Wow! This album is so cool,I especially love ‘Bimple’,the lyrics is totally…rad!

  30. oppsie

    May 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    my son and I loves this track to death and he is just 10 year old. am happy there is someone from home representing good music and not just the noise with no lyrical content nor mind engaging that is constantly being churned out by a lot of Nigerian artist.

  31. Kémi Penélopê

    May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Every time I listen to Asa’s “Bimpe”, the characters from Lola Shoneyin’s “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” came to mind…Nice song

    Gbenga, abegi you too much jare…now when my oyinbo friends ask for the meaning (sorry my Yoruba get k-leg), I would be directing them here. However, Please, Please…and please…could you do the analysis on “Bruda Ole”? Thank you very much.

  32. Riliwandinho

    May 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Thanx 2 d interpreter cos if not 4 u i will be just be crazy with asa cos i due ask my friend dat dis song has meaning if not 4 asa cannot do a song without a reason.kudos 2 Asa herself & 2 u too d interpreter & co-mate i pray may Allah give u more stright 2 do more pls i want more 4rm u luv u all.

  33. Ayomide TruthHunter

    May 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for listening, Gbenga! Again, you manage to not only open up the meaning of the song, but also communicate its spirit. One point, tho’: I think the singer may actually be childless. It’s not explicitly said, but the fourth line hints at this, and I think it would be the more reason Bimpe’s being so disrespectful. My ten naira. 🙂

    Keep ’em coming!

  34. laolu

    May 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    maybe asa should officially hire u..i love the song…and yr narrative…its beautiful

  35. Ololade Shin-Aba

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Asa is the 20th century Sade Adu. A very good one girl. Your ingenuity, creativity, talent, and uniqueness is a rare gift. Wishing u the very best.

  36. MobileBrowser

    July 1, 2011 at 2:40 am

    I’m just waitin for someone to pass a negative comment about Asa, then I’ll insult th person very well.
    I trust Gbenga is now working on ‘broda ole’

    • Gbenga Awomodu

      September 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      Watch Out for the analysis of Broda Ole very soon! 🙂

  37. muyiwa

    July 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Really well done! Any chance of you doing the same for Bi’Ban ke? I’m tickled that you pointed out you got the original CD – I have two of them now! I had someone ship me one from Paris as the US release was delayed, and then my sister went to her show in London, at the Barbican I think, and got me a signed copy! As you can tell, I’m a huge fan.

    • Gbenga Awomodu

      September 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      Watch Out for the analysis of Bibanke… It’s coming very soon! 🙂

  38. Jaynee

    October 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    So so sooooo wonderful,good one at dat,tanks gbenga 4 a job well done

  39. Bess Obarotimi

    April 23, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Nice post. This song made me laugh before I really knew what she said. Now you’ve made it even better. I was not satisfied with husband’s explanation that the in-law wore makeup, painted with talc is so much more descriptive. Love you Asax Thanks Gbenga

  40. ayodeji olawole

    June 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    ..nice work bro

  41. Frederick

    April 16, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I love d progression of ‘Bimpe’.
    I really want Asa 2 feature on my track; she’s great in wot she does!
    I WISH 2 PLAY D GUITAR LYKE ASA DOES!

  42. nonye Barrow

    November 11, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Poetic Analysis at its best. Excellent Gbenga!

  43. Baby Girl

    May 15, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    Love love this song. Always and forever.
    Thank you for this!

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