Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Simply Asa

I know, I know. I said I was going to stay on the sidelines this week and let some other (better) writers take center stage around here, but there's an album that's been in heavy rotation around here that I wanted to share by a French/Nigerian artist named Asa. She just dropped her self titled debut last week, and it's already selling like hot cakes around the world.

As one might expect, Asa draws upon the musically rich heritage of Nigeria, the place where she spent her childhood, citing such influences as Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade, but she doesn't stop there. Interlaced with her afro-shaded sound is a soft and easy reggae vibe courtesy of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. Something Asa shares with all of these artists is a strong political and social conscious that is clearly displayed in many of the album's songs' lyrics. Take for instance Jailor, the album's lead off track, a song about oppression and the people who attempt to enact it.
I have fears, you have fears too
I will die, but you sef go die too
Life is beautiful don’t you think so too
Mr Jailer
The album is a whole, in its topics, its multilingual lyrics (even if you can't understand Yoruba, their beauty comes through loud and clear), its intent, reminds me a lot of Wyclef Jean's music. It's slowed down, acoustically presented to us, with a female singer, but still I'd definitely place the two musicians next to each other. Taken as a whole, I really think the album's a strong debut that holds a lot of substance both musically as well as thematically.

Visit her website, her label Downtown Music, and become her friend on MySpace.


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