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4.7.14

NEW VIDEO: Ibeyi - Oya


Whoop, Yoruba people for the win!

OK, OK, so nineteen-year-old twins, Naomi and Lisa-Kainde* Diaz of Ibeyi** are actually French-Cuban... Perhaps they're part of one of the many Yoruba communities around the world. Perhaps they have nothing to do with theethnic group in its entirety. The fact remains: this song was inspired by the Yoruba culture. So, naturally, I'm feeling as chuffed as if I myself had been presented as their sole muse. I'm quite possibly a little too proud of both my ethnic groups, that it has now reached Kanye West levels.

I found out about this song after watching and reviewing Bruce Weber's Beautiful Strangers, the first of a series of short clips from the new ad campaign for Ghesquière's Louis Vuitton in a commissioned piece for an online magazine - and I was completely blown away.

I'm a bit intrigued now because I've used the word "oya" in colloquial Pidgin English for years - basically a term that signifies you're asking for something to be done with immediate effect e.g. "get out of my way right now" = "oya, get out of the way" [hand gestures, optional]. But I didn't even know it was Yoruba until I'd read up on these girls - hell, I'm still not sure it is. During my time on the motherland, I lived in southern regions of Nigeria which is mostly populated by the Ikwerres, the Ijaws (which is where I also fall in), the Igbos and quite a few others - this is all probably just flying over your head; I do apologize but feel free to click the links if you're curious... it's all Wikipedia though, so have a pinch of salt handy - so I figured it was probably one of theirs, if not completely made up.

If you'd like a more literal translation, my guess is it probably doesn't even have one. Too many times I've gotten the same "mmm, I don't know what word to use in English but it basically means..." response I've unintentionally given above, so I've just taken most things as they come. I find that inferring the meaning from the context in which it is used by others is the best way to learn Pidgin. It took me three years but all you can do is hope people correct you more often if you use it wrong and not just smile at you like you're a child with an adorable lisp. That being said, my reflexive response is "it's so cute when (s)he tries" whenever one of my friends tries their hand at Pidgin, so I guess I no longer have the right to complain.

Moving on... the daughters of the late Cuban percussionist, Anga Diaz use their vocals to full effect on Oya, incorporating English, Yoruba (language and culture, same name, keep up) and French into their affecting lyrics, with or without the language barriers. Under the direction of ScanLAB Projects, the video itself is fantastically minimal. As ethereal and captivating as it is, you have little else to distract you from their showstopping voices over a poignant production by Richard Russell. Haunting and evocative, Oya tingles every fibre of your being... and you relish every second of it. I shall be busying myself with their archives all night, it seems, because this is just too good to be a one-off. When you got it, you got it.

Check it out via YouTube below and let me know what you think. Oya, which comes off their debut album, can be purchased on iTunes and streamed on SoundCloud, Spotify, Deezer and the like here.







* - I'm curious, is 'Kainde' like a watered-down version of our 'Kehinde'? Kehinde and Taiwo/Taiyewo/Taiye are the names usually reserved for twins in Yoruba, with Kehinde being the older one. I think it'd be awesome if, like Pidgin English and French Creole, Yoruba names, words and appropriations had been given a face-lift in every new part of the world we'd spread to. Although, I've barely managed to pick up anything in all my nineteen years so it would all still just be musical gibberish to my ears.


** - Ibeji (i.e. with a 'j') is the Yoruba word for "twins" as far as I know but, as you guys are already aware, I am no expert. Google agrees with me though but if the above is true - ugh, I don't know. Don't quote me on anything. I will deny you, point-blank.


Photo source: PickUpTheHeadphones.com
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