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

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: :http://gbengaawomodu.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/11-Broda-Olé.mp3|titles=11

Photo credit: www.fredprat.com

*This post was originally published here: Asa’s “Broda Ole”: A Narrative Lyrical Analysis

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