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Asa’s “Broda Ole”: A Narrative Lyrical Analysis

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Today, we head back to the suburbs – the outskirts of Lagos, maybe. Asa tells the story of a no-nonsense mother whose impressionable child is being wrongly influenced by a notorious neighbour. Ironically on a jolly beat, the narrator sends a serious message to her object of scorn and his girlfriend. Here goes:

Oh! Ah!! Mo gbo n’pe (Oh! ah! I heard)
Eyin ni broda oke (You are the fellow who lives upstairs)
Eyin l’e n k’omo mi l’ole, ah ah ah (You teach my child to steal)
Oh! Ah!! Mo gbo n’pe (Oh! Ah!! I heard)
Eyin ni sista oke (You are the lady who lives upstairs)
Eyin l’e n fe broda ole, ah ah ah (You are engaged to the crook)

She hurries into bridge, giving a mention to other neighbours who are troubled by the notorious neighbour’s negative influence on their children – as if reading out the names of all parties to a petition. The cast is not far from the everyday characters that acclaimed Nigerian writer, Teju Cole, brings to life in his “small fates”.

Iya Sidi, oni ‘diri mi (Sidi’s mum – my hairdresser)
Sisi Uche egbon ore mi (Uche, my friend’s elder sister)
Awon lo ran mi wa o o (They all sent me to you!)
Bobo Musa onireke wa (Musa, the male sugarcane seller)
Iya Mulika ol’omo meje (Mulika’s mum – mother of seven)
Awon lo ran mi wa o (They all sent me to you)

As if the notorious neighbour is distracted by her serious, albeit funny stance, she reiterates her seriousness about the matter at hand – and I can picture her clapping both hands, holding her sides and shaking her waist in sync with the rest of her body.

Eyi ko n soro erin (This is not ‘a laughing matter’)
E ma je n so fun anybody, ah ah ah (Don’t let me expose you to the people)
I’m talking to you, talking to you
T’ori olorun mo be o (I beg you in the name of God)
E ma je n so fun anybody, ah ah ah (Don’t let me expose you to people)
I’m talking to you, talking to you

She is angered, perhaps by the man’s silence and amusing looks, so she flares up further.

Oh! Ah!! Mo gbo n’pe eyin ni oga ole (Oh ah! I heard you are the leader of a robbery gang)
E de n se bi Olorun, ah ah ah (And you are acting like you’re God)
Omo mi mo f’iya bi, on f’oju di mi (My child whom I bore in sweat now dares me)
O n s’oro mi l’aida ; pe eyin ni Olorun (He/she speaks evil of me; that you are God)

Emi l’omo olokun meji; (I can be troublesome)
E lo bere mi l’owo anybody (Go ask about me from anybody)
E ma ma wa ‘ja mi o o (Don’t you dare me!)
Oh oh oh, oh oh
Omo to ni ‘ya re ko ni sun (The child who says his/her mother would not sleep)
Oun gangan ko ni f’oju sun (He/she is the one who would lose sleep)
E ma ma wa ‘ja mi o o (Don’t you dare me!)
Oh oh oh, oh oh

The brass-section players are let loose here like never before since the beginning of the song. Back-up vocals also come alive, never singing a word…

Eyi ko n soro erin (This is not a laughing matter)
E ma je n so fun anybody, ah ah ah (Don’t let me expose you to other people)
I’m talking to you, talking to you
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Eyi ko n soro a ri fin (This is not a laughing matter)
E ma je n so fun anybody, ah ah ah (Don’t let me expose you to other people)
I’m talking to you, talking to you, Eh!

The strings take turns as Asa takes liberty with musical notes, scat-singing like one tired of repeating same thing the umpteenth time. She soon repeats the familiar line even as the tempo picks up again. The brass players have fun again.

Eyi ko n soro erin (This is not a laughing matter)
E ma je n so fun anybody, ah ah ah (Don’t let me expose you to people)
I’m talking to you, talking to you
T’ori olorun mo be o (I beg you in the name of God)
E ma je n ro jo mi fun anybody, ah ah ah (Don’t let me expose you to people)
I’m talking to you, talking to you

She sneers, but the lively piece continues till fade just five seconds short of four minutes.

Ori abiamo a mu e l’oni o, a mu e l’oni o (Nemesis will catch up with you today)
Ah, ah, ah ah
A ni, ori abiamo a mu e l’oni o, a mu e l’oni o (Nemesis will catch up with you today)
Ah, ah, ah ah

Ye ye ye, eyin die die die
Eyin agbaya eh; eyin agbaya ah (You good-for-nothing adult x2)

This is a brilliant, entertaining work of art. Again, thanks Asa!

Listen to Broda Ole here: [audio:https://www.bellanaija.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/11-Broda-Olé.mp3|titles=11 Broda Olé]

Photo credit: www.fredprat.com
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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. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

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

26 Comments

  1. ogie

    June 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Asa, always on point.

    http://omoirefo.blogspot.com.au/

    • Gidi

      June 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      Gbenga, always on point. Telling the story behind the lyrics.

  2. fokasibe

    June 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Hey! Thank you!!!!

  3. Re A.

    June 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Great song. Thanks for the translation!
    http://thatreofsunshine.blogspot.com/

  4. Tayo

    June 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    nice 1

  5. Lucius

    June 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Great job! We need more like her in Nigeria.

  6. esther

    June 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    this is [email protected] we call beautiful music,,coz it got a message and its more like fun…… a million stars for asha

  7. olabisi

    June 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    love u ASA…………….love ur songs always .

  8. slavin

    June 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    J’adore ASA!!!

  9. christy

    June 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Why can’t I download”sobbing”

  10. FIDELIA

    June 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Brilliant!!!!!!!!!

  11. Eno

    June 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Love it!

  12. iamfascinating

    June 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Asa is just….awesome.

    Do you know the main causes of skin damage are high sugar-intake, hydroquinone and sun exposure? protect your skin with key skincare tips at http://www.thestunninglady.blogspot.com

  13. karonwi

    June 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    OH how much I’d been lookin 4ward to seeing another lyrical analysis!!! I love Asa’s songs
    Thanks BN…please do this more often

  14. LPS

    June 9, 2012 at 7:54 am

  15. L.A Chick

    June 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Her voice is so pure…. Amazing

  16. auntie

    June 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    is ASA a lyrical genius or what? Excellent work on the translation/interpretation Gbenga

  17. Ready

    June 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Great job on dissecting Asa’s work as usual, Gbenga..but I was wondering, can “ori abiamo” really be translated as nemesis? I don’t have a replacement word, but I know abiamo means something like women who’ve gone through childbirth or who will. Maybe you could ask around..

    • Wink wink

      June 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

      I think Nemesis interpretes ori abiamo perfectly, at least can’t think of a better word. Nemesis is of various types in Yoruba land, “ori mi a mu e” means nemesis will catch up with u. so “ori abiamo” here would also mean nemesis, from the perspective of the mother.

  18. Bianca

    June 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Yoruba language has to be one of the most beautiful languages. It has such deep meaning, and it soothiness to it. If a language makes you feel like you know what it means when you don’t speak it, that’s when you know it’s a beautiful language. Asa, this girl is a lyricist.

  19. omoigbo

    June 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the translation – I’ve always loved this song, and i only ‘hear small yoruba’

  20. Wink wink

    June 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Eyi ko n soro a ri fin (This is not a laughing matter) should be translated, this is not a matter of me being rude to you or this is not a matter of rudeness.

    • Gbenga Awomodu

      June 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks, ‘Wink wink’. I’ll see to that ASAP. 🙂

  21. Ayoola princewill

    October 27, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Asa is just on point, if u take ur time to listen to her songs, u’ll find out that they are master pieces . I’m like her Number 1 fan!!! Shez da BOMB!

  22. Badaboom

    June 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Just listened to her new album and gosh! She’s such a quality artist. We need more in the WORLD like her

  23. Josehp

    January 4, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Eyi ko n soro a ri fin (This is not a laughing matter)
    shows the accused is claiming that the accuser is being disrespectful to him. Hence the line “eyi kon n soro a ri fin” which should mean that in the light of the offence do not throw the disrespectful line at me. Great work though

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