Tuesday, June 17, 2008


You Tube's post-to-your-blog function is playing up again. Asa's Fire on the Mountain video is here, if you've yet to clap eyes on it.

Y'all are very late to the Asa party. I remember seeing Asa back at Jazzville in deepest Yaba 5 years ago - when you didn't have to pay an arm and two legs to see her. She's come a long way since then. It does seem as if she is going global all of a sudden. A friend reported her music being played in his local in Oxford the other day. Its a real shame that most of the copies of her album being sold in Nigeria at least are pirated. Most people buying the cd will have little idea that they are not buying a legit version that puts money in her pocket.

Its a lovely album, and its great that at last a Nigerian musician who isn't aping the worst of American R&B (the death of music masked as soft porn) is making waves. Having said that, I still think Asa's best is yet to come. I'd like to see more variation with her future work - piano-based ballads, more uptempo pieces, choral-harmonic-semi-orchestral pieces, experimenting with her vocal range etc. In other words, a bit more variation away from the artlessly cute acoustic guitar based sound.

Perhaps teaming up with fellow Paris-based musician Keziah Jones might be the way to go...


Kody 9:35 am  

Keziah Jones? Are you kidding me?!! God forbid she should start recording the trendy 'world music' you hear in the bars and clubs of Clerkenwell or Camden. Look what happened to the brilliant Yousou N'Dour when he decided to go trendy.

Much of the songs on Asa's brilliant album were first recorded years ago when she was still with Questionmark. I was fortunate to meet her and listen to the recordings then, and she has clearly come a long long way. Then, her diction was not great and the spititually moving melodies now on those same songs were missing. This shows the huge contribution the hugely talented Cobhams made to her final output.

Forget Keziah Jones, I think if anything, she should go on a long holiday to the heartlands of Yoruba culture and infuse its ancient sounds even more into her music.

Let the trendy set, get translations on her album sleeve if they wish.

Anonymous,  9:51 am  

There so many of them out here, I have nuthin but love for Keziah trendy or not.. You heard of Ayo? quite big in Europe too.. they shd all get togeda and work..Asa will be in my town next month and shez always on the radio, forget the way I tell people, yes ooo she is Yoruba, Nigerian!

As to Nigerians not knowing it pirated, common Jer, give us sum credit..we know, but that whats on the streets so thats what im coping, My Lagbaja is original coz he protected him self, n femi. Thats why people hire lawyers! There so many entertainment ones in nigeria now USE US,LOL!


Anonymous,  10:46 am  

Mimi, do you mean Saxman Ayo? or is there another one. I agree with Kody, I think Asa should go deeper into her yoruba heritage and explore the huntingly beautiful Ijala poetry. It would really lift her music and take it to a different level. Musically, I think this album could have been better produced. Jeremy, I do get a sense that you are not fully saying what you really feel. I think you're trying to be polite, cause I know you a music man and you'll probably have a lot more to say i.e. the fact that her guitar like most acoustic guitar players in Nigeria tend to be out of tune.

Anonymous,  12:25 pm  

@anon..no not sax man Ayo..Ayo Ogumakin i tink is her name, had a huge hit last year ´down on my knees´Album called Joyful


Nuggetzman 4:53 pm  

I also remember those jazzville poetry performance nights 'Word and Sound' hosted by Beautiful Nubia at Majek's place.Asa took poetry on a journey with her acoustic guitar and her partnership with Majek, Janet,and later Cobhams had enriched her delivery.
Questionmark Records had Asa all along but didnt do much to project her to the world stage.The version of Asa's album they belatedly release was a raw copy of the one from France-based Naive Records.
Asa has also jammed with keziah Jones during her 'artist-in-residence' trip to France which French Cultural Centre had sponsored and that opened her up into the French scene...and credit should also to go Peter King who taught her the guitar.
I believe a lot more will come from Asa in due course,as her teeming fans from across the world are very expectant going by the positive comments people have been leaving on her www.myspace.com/asaofficial
She will get there...at least a different voice has emerged from the noisy and hyped naija hiphop world of Dbanj,Psquare and co!

anonymaus,  5:19 pm  

I've not heard much of her music, but what I've heard it's good. She stands out, possibly like the early Sade Adu.

Good to hear something off the wall from Nigeria, rather than sad American copies of R&B and hip-hop(10 years behind), or the predictable Nigerian sounds we are all too familiar with.

"She's trying o!!"

Anonymous,  10:44 am  

Asa - chei. I hate the music, the delivery.

And I think she is not good-looking. she needs to cut off her dreads. and did she graduate from any college? what about education?

Anonymous,  12:22 pm  

mmm haters...since when did obvious beauty become the trademark of a musician? hmm?

Kody 12:27 pm  

Last anonymous. You are obviously lacking a brain. What does looks have to do with music?

Anonymous,  5:43 pm  

kody, 'lacking a brain'? wouldn't that mean i am - like - dead? which would mean my sitting here typing this is a miracle? hmmm...

anyhoo, brain or no, asa is ugly. so does every other man between the age of 9-90 (the heterosexual ones)

Kody 8:20 pm  

Last anon, you are clearly also lacking the ability to string a proper sentence together. I rest my case. Brain, where are you?

It annoys me when people have no intelligent basis for criticism. So you don't Asa's music - big deal. Its a free world. I don't like P square, Mariah Carey or Celine Dion, but I not so vacous as to base it on their looks.

Anonymous,  12:23 pm  

The young lady definitely has talent. I have listened to the album several times and I find it slightly over-produced and too slick. The music is also not original - it's like something made from a template and if you've listened to feist(www.myspace.com/feist)you will understand where I am coming from. There is a lot of such music floating around the pop music world right now. Nigerians tend to rush to judgements and hail everything we see too quickly without giving any room for reflection. Anybody who has listened to a lot of music can tell that this sound is not original but her voice is remarkable. The music is borrowed from many sources, mainly Bob Marley, Fela and Beautiful Nubia. Of all those influences, I would suggest she sticks with the Beautiful Nubia thing, dig deeper into the Yoruba roots. Right now she is not playing African music, what I hear are Yoruba words stuffed into an R&B/neo-soul jacket and that to me sounds pretentious. Of course I am not saying she has to play African music - we cannot dictate to an artist what she should do with her career but I am just trying to caution some of fellow Nigerian who are always too quick to believe the hype and follow the herd. The young lady has just started, she is not yet "the genius", she is not yet "the greatest". Give her time to grow.

olu,  12:54 am  

yes. last anon,
"give her time to grow".
I guess the Naija music landscape is so parched,we are too anxious for the second coming.

Personally, i looove that acoustic earcandy thing she does. She's also a hell of a writer(the opening lines of "mr.Jailer").
Y'all cant deny you all felt something sublime when you first heard her rendition of 'eye -Adaba'

BTW how much of mainstream pop is 'original' nowadays ? I beg make she make some money b4 she does anything 'artistic' jare.

There's always a middle ground in my opinion - U2 aint the cutting edge irish lads they once were, but they're still respected.
Kanye West,NERD,Gnarles barkley and DR.Dre to name a few, also manage to walk that line-being trendy yet creative.They essentially pay homage to their retro influences however,they package it in glossy, 21st century,sheen. Hey, even hip-hop was founded on James Brown's break beats !
If i was musically gifted at all, i would follow that template. Here's my plan for naija music domination: I'd dig up my dads juju/apala collection retrofit those nasty guitar chords for 2008,keep the talking drums, learn to rap or speak-sing (ala Nice) and voila ! I think thats why "Gongo aso" resonated with so many people. It was new yet familiar. It had a sense of roots but was rebellious as well. Hmmmm

future stars..y'all listening ??

BacktoNaija 2:38 pm  

h@olu, I agree, the writing skills in Asa's songs are fantastic, but it was her producer,Cobhams who wrote Jailer. He also wrote Fire on the Mountain and co-wrote about 4 other songs on the Album. The original CD jacket has all the credits :) They make a smashing team those two!

Jeremy, the average Nigerian wouldn't be able to afford a N2k cd original CD published by her foreign label. Asa beat the pirates at their own game and produced a local version i.e she pirated her own CDs.

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