A song play from the videotape, the guy beside me is editing, it one of the burial song sung in Nigerian churches, I have been to enough burial service to know one when I hear it, I dont know the title. Asa’s sophomore album has been on for more than two hours, I have been listening to it, the first time I would be doing that in about eight years or more.
In 2010, I found Beautiful Imperfection, Asa’s second official studio album lying fallow in my guardian’s car, I was excited when I found it but there was no way I could play it. No tape in my room, you can’t play such music in the sitting room either, I was desperate to savor the sonic playlist.
I wash my guardian car four times a week, I devise a means to listen to the album. I always wake up early to wash the car, when I unlock the car, I slot in the CD, play the album from start to finish sitting in the car, I am not the type that forward a track to the next, I am always patient to listen to the end, listening to Asa’s album was a form of therapy for me, this continued for a while until I got to know all the track word for word.
These days, I tend to understand Asa’s point of view more, the songs were more deeper than I thought then, Bimpe, one of my favourite tracks was beyond interpersonal rift or the patriarchal system in Africa. Bimpe was an admonition for social harmony, respect beget respect, while she made it known she was hurt, she respected Bimpe due to her husband, it a country music tune.
Beautiful Imperfection was four tracks more than Asha with the whole trip two minutes short of one hour, unlike Asha, this sounds, the genre is more geared towards the European audience, I think it was curated as a cross-over album for Asa.
After the success of Asha, the branding of Asha got some tweak, she went on some European cities tour, Paris, Italy, she even performed at some American state, the projection was to sell her music to the outsiders. A large chunk of the song was sung in English, for an artist who had her years in France, give it to her. You can pardon her Yoruba language diction on this album, it was near marvelous.
The other side of love is a topic Asa explored in her debut, she continued the narrative on Why Can’t We, worrying about the unavailability of her boyfriend, a friend cautioned her. To live in the moment but the Asa I know doesn’t look like she would, the questionnaire must continue, she went deeper on the second verse, using life as the driving force, how life is ephemeral, the uncertainty of life was resurrected on Maybe, there were a lot of If on the song, while she tends to be optimistic in her lines, the tone betrayed her.
There are two people you should not advise, a person in love and a Buharist, they won’t listen to you. A girl in love should be left alone to enjoy her world, imaginary or real. Asa is in love, the guy drives her crazy. Soulfully, she ask him this question, always, I want to be yours alone. I like the song. It funky.
Preacher Man was a tale about a prodigal son who goes to the church for restitution, Asa talks from the point of view of this former lost souls.
A depressive Asa explored life, mirroring the society definition of a sane mind, to her, we are all in this together but we choose not to pay attention to it.
If you are looking for where she got the inspiration for this titular, check OK OK, life no balance but we have to live with it, the enemies are around, looking for a way to bring us down but we have to live, it Ok but it not ok. We are all pretenders, what a beautiful imperfection. In a not too ok society, the dreamer girl still has her aspiration intact, visualizing ways to make it realistic, the change is imminent, she hopes or prays.
Over a guitar on the intro, a reminisce of Asha, she preaches against evil friends on Ore. She caught her husband with another lady, “Won huwa omode”, why was our queen giving us an encoded message keh?, the saxophone did some play on for about 30 seconds on this ditty giving it some operatic feeling, picture a Nollywood movie.
If Be My Man was funky, Baby Gone was the opposite of the song, most of the talk was an afterthought, who cry when the head has been cut off?
Broda Ole might have been a call out to a neighbor who steals, it was also a form of satire. Questions was an open-ended question about life, humanity, I think this is Asa’s version of 37 questions. It slow and philosophical. Iba, a gospel tune was the second to the last track on this album.
Asa comes from the Yoruba speaking part of Nigeria, a place where traditional institution is still held in high esteem, on the last track titled Bamidele, Asa berated Akinyele, the son of Jinadu for making effort to avoid paying bride price, this shows Asa was very in tune with her tradition.
On Beautiful Imperfection, Asa avoided a sophomore slump which was then an in-thing for most Nigerian artists, rather than slum, she levels up, conquered new territory, win more fans, expand her sonic range, these were all reflected in this album.
Beautiful imperfection was more cohesive and sonically organized than Asha, the only albatross would be the arrangement of the tracks, which made the narrative sometimes difficult to follow. While the fans are still undecided on which should be regarded as Asa’s Magnus opus between Beautiful Imperfection and Asha, I think one was a level up on the other with some sounds tweak.