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

Okayafrica takes a look at rising Afro-Cuban doom soul twin sister duo Ibeyi, who recently made their EP debut with 'Oya' (via XL).


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).

In a recent interview produced by NOWNESS, the sisters revealed that the underlying theme of their forthcoming debut effort, which they worked on closely with XL's label head Richard Russell, is family and prayer. Though no further details have been released, expect more of Ibeyi's haunting diasporic spirituals sometime soon. Watch the videos for "Oya" and "River" below. Oya is out now via XL Recordings. Stay caught up with news from the duo on Facebook and Twitter.

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15 South African Artists to Watch in 2019

Featuring Manu WolrdStar, Ranks, Dee Koala, Touchline, Sibu Nzuza and more.

Every year a wave of artists breaks in South Africa.

Last year saw young artists such as Mlindo The Vocalist, Muzi, Una Rams, Shekhinah, Sho Madjozi, KLY, Zoocci Coke Dope, Flame, J Molley, Rowlene and a whole lot more become household names and internet sensations. They released projects that shaped the country's musical landscape—a lot of them were on our list of 20 artists who could fuck up the game in 2018.

Alongside the aforementioned artists, there were just as many who were bubbling under, releasing singles that caught the attention of many fans. In 2019, these artists stand a great chance of expanding further and reaching more ears than they did last year.

From Manu WorldStar's lovely pop, to Ranks' version of ATM (African trap music), the refreshing Xhosa rap of Dee Koala, the street raps of Touchline, among others, we bring you a list of South African artists to keep an eye out for in 2019.

*The list is in no particular order.

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News Brief

Netflix Has Picked Up an Animated Musical Inspired by Shona Mythology

"Tunga" is the brainchild of Zimbabwean-born screenwriter Godwin Jabangwe.

The latest African story to become a Netflix original will be an animated, family-friendly musical based on Zimbabwean culture, Deadline reports. The streaming service won a four-way bidding battle for Tunga, created by Zimbabwean-born screenwriter and newcomer to the film industry Godwin Jabangwe.

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'Play Am' single cover.

Burna Boy Teams Up With Oritse Femi & Konshens on New Track 'Play Am'

Nigeria meets Jamaica on the Young D-produced dancehall-infused jam.

Fresh off his massive collaboration with Zlatan on "Killin' Dem," Burna Boy is back with another one.

The artist teams up with fellow Nigerian artist Oritse Femi and Jamaican artist Konshens for the dancehall-infused track "Play Am."

The song opens with a memorable verse from Konshens before both Oritse Femi and Burna join in, making for a unique fusion of Yoruba, Patois and Pidgin over the track's vibrant, multilayered production by producer Young D.

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