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VIDEO:Introducing French Afro-Cuban Twin Sisters Ibeyi & Their Yoruba Doom Soul

Ibeyi, made up of Cuban-born, Paris-based twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz, is an electronic doom soul duo who are forging a new spiritual sound with their debut EP Oya. The 19-year-old musicians are XL Recordings‘ newest signees, and their introductory singles “Oya” and “River” possess a hypnotic blend of hip-hop, electronica, and blues infused with Yoruba prayers and folk songs that will transport you to a higher realm upon first listen.

Singing in French, English, Spanish and Yoruba, Ibeyi count among their primary influences Nina Simone, Meshell Ndegeocello, James Blake and their late father, the celebrated Cuban jazz percussionist Miguel “Anga” Diaz. Ibeyi’s vocal range, which wavers from the raspy and wraith-like to the sonorous and divine, is ideal for their sonic palette which revels in the phantasmagorical groove of liturgical Yoruba songs. Besides singing in Yoruba–which was brought to Cuba by West African slaves–Ibeyi honor their father’s legacy and Afro-Cuban heritage through their percussive production and use of live instruments. Beatsmith Naomi plays both the cajón and the batá while Lisa-Kaindé remains more in tune with the musical mythos of Ibeyi’s sound by weaving Yoruba lore deeply into their lyrics. “River” is dedicated to the goddess Oshun (the mother of the Ibeyi, and their first single and EP are both named for  Oya (the benevolent orisha who took the Ibeyi in after Oshun was accused of witchcraft for birthing twins and kicked them out).

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Ibeyi - River

Ibeyi is made up of twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz. Cuban-born but raised in Paris, they sing in English, Spanish, French and Yoruba. Ibeyi means “twins” in Yoruba and in West Africa, where their father was from, it is four times more likely for twins to be born.

River is steeped in Yoruba tradition, from the use of a Batá drum, to the lore woven into the lyrics. But the song isn’t merely a celebration of heritage, the bass line plucks with electronica and their voices are tinged with static. It is a kind of representation of these unreal women.

Their expansive hair, bare faces and wide open eyes are entrancing. It’s hard not to stare directly at their paled lips as they sing, raspy sweet harmonies. But it’s misdirection—you almost miss the hands of the men, one clutching the t-shirt, the other behind their heads. You begin to notice that every time one of the Diaz twins sings it is the hand that pushes and pulls her out of water. Are they being cleansed—baptized? Or drowned?

If you want more background into the twins, their influences and their heritage, I highly recommend you check out the post written by okayafrica about them.

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Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz, the 19-year-old French-Cuban twins in the duo Ibeyi, offer an arresting but unsettling video for their song “River.”

Watch it here and on All Songs TV


Minor Orishas. According to Yoruba legend, are two twin children, sons of the Orishas, Chango and Oshun (some claim that their mother is Oya, in any way, they were bred by Yemaya).

They are considered as patrons of all children. They are spoiled by all the Orishas, are naughty, and dance with the head, susceptible, capricious, and troublemakers. They have the ability to appease their father Chango when furious and are in general very influential with him.

Their names, separately, are Taewan and Kaínde. Taewan, being born first, has fewer powers than the second. They are represented in the altar by two identical stick dolls.

They embody the fortune, luck, and prosperity. They are able to save from death and the malicious. They are in the ways of the mountains, protecting the walkers. One of the most important symbols of Ibeyis are the drums that beat Abita. They can be represented by three combinations of figures, one of female and one male, two male or two female.

The Ibeyis are protectors of all children, playful, mischievous, and sweet. They live at the top of the Palm. They are given different names such as: Taewan and Kaínde, Araba and Aina, Ayaba and Aiba (both female), Olori and also female Oroiña, Alawa Kuario and Eddún, Aden, Alabbar, Ibbo e ontinue, Oraún, Ono Nibeyi e Nibeyi, Olon, Itaguara and Idou, etc. Their name comes from the Yorùbá Ibèyí (Igbo: contains, Meyi: two). They saved the men with magical drums which gave them Yemaya, defeating Olosí. They also saved Obatala in Dahomey.

In Santeria, the birth of jimaguas is cause for joy, as superhuman powers attributed to them. It is considered sin for parents who have jimaguas treat one better that to another, it is not prudent to scold them. They must be baptized on the same day and dress the same.

Therefore, if one of the children jimaguas died, parents should bring the other quickly to a Babalawo so that through their prayers

they can prevent the spirit of the dead to take the survivor. In these cases the babalawo sends to make two equal stick puppets and the twin who is alive has to take care of it, feed them from his own meal, exactly half.

Ase O!

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Ibeyi, are 19 year-old twin sisters from France, and this is their chilling debut single ‘Oya’. Signed to XL, the duo absoletely kill it with their breathtaking harmonies caressing the surreal, minimalist backdrop. The accompanying visual too, serves as the perfect depiction of the track’s haunting aesthetic. Watch up top, this is special. 

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Ibeyis - 

They represent the flag of the Iworo and it undergoes a process of reaffirmation in the religious, spiritual and material world. Also called in Cuba,  are minor, male and female, “Taewa and Kaínde” children of Chango and Oshun, although raised by Yemaya. They have a large, miraculous virtue and incomparable power. We find them living in la Palma. Protagonists of the known pataki of the sign “Di Otura” where Ibeyis beat the devil.

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Ibeyi return with ‘River’, the follow up to their entrancing debut single ‘Oya’. In this one, the duo share verses in which they sing/speak before coming together for the chorus over a choppy beat. That’s the accompanying visual up top; it’s directed by Ed Morris and captures the twins performing the track whilst submerged underwater. Fun fact, it’s dedicated to the river Goddess, Oshun!

But you the only one I miss / ‘Cause you the only one I- / Summer’s over and I feel the same way you do.
A spooky doom soul mix for fall mornings and evenings that get dark too early.

01. Jonah - Fight A Scary Dog
02. River - Ibeyi
03. Life Round Here - James Blake feat. Chance The Rapper
04. East Liberty - PARTYNEXTDOOR
05. Pray For Love - Kwabs
06. So High - Wiz Khalifa feat. Ghost Loft
07. Papaoutai - Stromae
08. Chum - Earl Sweatshirt
09. Don’t Wait - Mapei
10. Best Mistake - Ariana Grande feat. Big Sean
11. Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us - Keaton Henson
12. Work Song - Hozier
13. Pendulum - FKA Twigs
14. Laststep - Tricot

Content warning: slurs, language.

[listen on 8tracks here]

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"Mama Says" by Ibeyi

Cuban-French duo Ibeyi are the twin daughters of the late great Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz. Lead vocalist/pianist Lisa-Kaïndé and vocalist/cajon player Naomi named themselves after the divine twin Orisha in Santería, Ibeyi, adapted from the twin Yoruba gods Ibeji. The duo composes their own music, pens their lyrics in Spanish, French, and English, and sings in all three languages (not in this video), as well as in Yoruba.

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Twins or Ibeyis, minor Orishas, children of Chango and Ochun, although raised by Yemaya. They can be represented by combinations of a man and a woman, two men or two women.

They are patterns of all children, doctors, barbers, and hairdressers. They are a perfect symbol of the duality of divine creation. They dwell in the Palm, their day is Sunday and other names by which they are known are: Taewan and Kaínde, Araba and Aina, Ayaba and Alba, Olori and Oroiña, Talaba and Salako.

Ibejis dancing 1995, Artist: Gerardo Castro.