Record Label: XL Recordings
Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) means “twins” in the language of the Yoruban culture of Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz. The album of the same name, produced by XL Recordings boss Richard Russell, is the story of two sisters: their relationship, their origins, their shared history and their musical chemistry. The twins’ roots are reflected in the polyglot nature of the lyrics — in English, French and Yoruban — and music which combines ritual chants with synths and samplers, jazz vocals with the spellbinding mystery of Björk and Fever Ray, the traditional with the modern. This uniquely cosmopolitan sound is the perfect vehicle for their intimately personal stories. According to them, “This album is about love and family and people who are gone.”
Lisa-Kainde and Naomi (the eldest by two minutes) were born in Paris, where they still live, but spent their first two years in Cuba. Their father was Miguel “Anga” Diaz, the member of the Buena Vista Social Club, who was acclaimed as the greatest conga player Record producer and XL Recordings boss Richard Russell first encountered Ibeyi when he saw them performing Mama Says on a 2013 YouTube video. He soon invited them to meet him - a serious offer from someone who in recent years has produced albums by Gil Scott-Heron (‘I’m New Here’) and Bobby Womack (‘The Bravest Man In The Universe’, co-produced with Damon Albarn), as well Albarn’s own acclaimed 2014 solo album ‘Everyday Robots’.
The album is a subtle melange of diverse influences: not just Lisa-Kainde's soul and jazz leanings and Naomi’s up-to-the-minute beatmaking but the bloodlines of France, Cuba and Africa, including the use of Yoruban chants they first heard in the Santeria ceremonies. The tense, dramatic Oya, the lead track on their debut EP, addresses the deity (or “Orisha”) of change and destruction while River honours Oshun, the Orisha of love, rivers and fertility. Yoruban culture travelled from Nigeria and Benin to Cuba and Brazil with the slave ships centuries ago but is little-known in Europe.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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