Ibeyi – Who Are They?

Ibeyi are pretty awesome. They are made up of two French/Cuban sisters (Lisa-Kaindé Diaz & Naomi Diaz) who sing in both English and Yoruba and sound like Rihanna (well one of them does). I’m sure a lot of you know this already but for those that don’t, Cuba and Nigeria have a lot of shared history. During the slave trade, West African slaves were brought to Cuba and though they were prisoners in a foreign land, they held tightly on to their beliefs and passed them on to their children and so on. Today you can see remnants of Yoruba culture throughout Cuba – a religion called Santeria is definitely a big one. The fiery and energetic La Lupe, who many bill as one of the greatest salsa singers of all time was also a massive believer of Santeria.

Now if you’re Nigerian, African or Caribbean, you’ve probably heard of the Yoruba language, but apart from the songs of Fela Kuti, the language has never really been introduced to a western audience in a nice, neat, accessible package. Now don’t get me wrong, that thumping, rhythmic African sound is definitely a fixture of western society now. Afrobeats as some would call it, has definitely cemented its place in Europe and the US through popular artists like D’banj, Fuse ODG and P-Square but I’m talking about the language itself not the sound….we don’t tend to hear a lot of it and I feel like Ibeyi are kind of bridging that gap. They sing a substantial amount of their lyrics in Yoruba but musically, they also sound very up-to-date. Their beats are quite minimalist similar to electronic artists like Jamie xx which is funny because they’re both signed to XL records.

The real amazing thing about Ibeyi is that they’re almost like a beautiful anomaly or something, like someone extracted them from a parallel universe. Yoruba people are very spirited (this may be a stereotype but most africans would agree) yet Ibeyi are so chill, so ethereal and gentle…it’s mindboggling! Two indie sounding chics who sing in Yoruba….it just doesn’t compute. They’re like a black CocoRosie but the difference is that they’re really genuine and I’m not trying to shit on Coco but sometimes they come across like caricatures. I love Ibeyi’s stripped back sound; the song Mama Says has one sister playing the piano and the other playing a simple beat on a cajon – that is all, and the song is truly divine. It really captivates you. I had a similar experience the first time I watched a live performance of Maybe Not by Cat Power.

Ibeyi’s EP dropped last year so you can snap that up if you haven’t already and definitely keep your eyes peeled for their debut album this year.  

Thought for the Day – Humans Are Brittle

Human Beings are extremely fragile. No matter how many times we claim to be strong, powerful and astute in what we do or how we operate, we are very easy to break….mentally that is. We are the real gentle giants… those larger than life fairy tales we grew up with are not just fantasy, the characters that exist within them represent a side of who we are, who we’ve always been and who we will always be. We are able to create monuments that are stupendously high and great in stature, able to harness fossil fuels that have existed for millions of years, able to traverse oceans in tin cans and bear witness to primitive yet vastly intricate lifeforms that have existed way before humanity came to be, but all the while we are being maneuvered by simple impulses that make up this invisible but at times, distinguishably loud, inescapable and ever-present thing we call a “mind”. Our psychological wellbeing is brittle and can be cracked with the slightest push or the lightest caress from a loved one. A hug can trigger a whole host of emotions that in turn triggers a whole host of memories – some good, some bad, some terrifying.

Man has a long way to go before he is truly mentally sound.

Ben Khan – Youth

Ben Khan, the elusive, futuristic-sounding and rather mysterious singer/producer from London, is back with yet another head-bopping tune to satisfy our fiendish appetites. Youth starts off slow and gentle, dripping in synth and intercepted with some striking guitar riffs that scream, “Fuck Yeah! Blade Runner……and stuff”. This only lasts for a dreamy moment before the beat tricksily drops into a nice summery “hand in hand with the girl you love” vibe or some cheesy shit like that (but who doesn’t like a bit of cheddar every now and then?)

Seriously though, it’s another obvious classic from Mr Khan. Personally, I prefer the dark, almost apocalyptic sound of one of his earlier songs – Eden, but it’s nice to know that he is able to switch things up.