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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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‘Dandy Queens’: A New Editorial Points A Lens At The Female Black Dandy

Recently, a new editorial from French magazine Blackattitude turn its lens towards a trio of female dandies, shot by Prisca M. Monnier as a collaboration with Nadeem Mateky…  [Continue reading article and view additional images at OkayAfrica.com.]

Okayafrica’s Top 13 Films of 2013

2013 has been an exciting year in African film. This year, nine films by directors of African origin or dealing with Africa-related themes premiered at Sundance Film Festival, including powerful shorts by Fyzal Boulifa and Frances Bodomo (whose forthcoming film Afronauts has been selected for Sundance 2014). Chadian director Mahmat Saleh Haroun and Tunisian-born Abdellatif Kechiche took films to CannesHaroun followed Une Homme qui Crie with GriGris , which was not quite as brilliant as his first effort. Kechiche, however, was on the up and up, and his film Blue is the Warmest Colour made himjust the second African-descended filmmaker to win Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or.  [Continue reading article and peruse list.]

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Andrew Dosunmu (director of Restless City and Mother of George) is set to direct the upcoming Fela Kuti biopic. via OkayAfrica

i’m curious to know how Fela will be portrayed, but i trust (and love) Dosunmu and i think cinematography skills will do him justice. i’m also happy that an African director was chosen. let us hope, however, that they cast an African actor that actually resembles Fela to play him and not some American or British actor who will butcher a Nigerian accent. 

any thoughts?

any suggestions on who should play Fela?