Photo: David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns
Cuban-French Duo Ibeyi Are Leaving Their Mark On U.S. Pop Culture
French-Cuban twin sisters Ibeyi may have been born and raised in Paris (they spent some time going back and forth to Cuba when they were small) but they are leaving footprints in U.S. pop culture in big ways—even if their first performance on American soil only happened four years ago.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) August 30, 2018
Sisters, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, can be seen through the "All Night" video made as a part of Beyoncé's film Lemonade—Lisa-Kaindé with her hair in a fro and Naomi with looser long curls. This is also the most obvious way you can tell the twins apart. More recently, the sisters can be heard on the third part of Lin-Manuel Miranda's August #Hamildrop Hamilton content series.
Ibeyi have long known about creating music, however. Their late father, Anga Diaz, was a conga player and a GRAMMY winner. He was a Yoruba, Cuban percussionist who played in Buena Vista Social Club and Orishas. And it is evident that his spirit and culture lives through their music.
— Ibeyi (@IbeyiOfficial) September 14, 2018
To begin to understand Ibeyi as artists, it's important to look at their name. Ibeyi means "twins" in the Cuban Yoruba dialect. Influence of their Cuban and Yoruba roots—Naomi can be seen playing the bata-cajon in performances—are at the center of their music and mesh with synth beats, soul and hip-hop with lyrics in Yoruba, English and Spanish.
“Batas are religious drums," Lisa-Kaindé told Modern Drummer."So we take that which is from our culture, those songs and sounds that we’ve heard for so long, and we mix them with new music, music that we listen to every day. That’s an important part of Ibeyi—playing with the past and the future, or with the tradition and the new music.”
As teens they were signed by Richard Russell and the duo released their self-titled album in 2015. They released their latest album Ash September of last year. Watch the videos below to learn more about Ibeyi's sound:
"Rise Up Wise Up Eyes Up"
The #Hamildrop is a music series that draws inspiration from Hamilton, Miranda's rap musical that remixes the life of Alexander Hamilton. We’re honoured to be able to share with you our contribution to the #Hamildrop," Ibeyi tweeted out about the song about consciousness and resilience.
Beyoncé put on her followers to Ibeyi via an Instagram post with this song in the background back in 2015. The song is dedicated to the Yoruba goddess of sweet, fresh waters, Genius writes. "Carry away my dead leaves/ Let me baptize my soul with the help of your waters/ Sink my pains and complains/Let the river take them, river drown them/My ego and my blame," the song goes. "We want something that is twisted, we want something that is powerful," Lisa-Kiandé Lisa-Kia told Much about the video in which they had to hold their breath to shoot.
If you listen closely, death is a theme throughout some of Ibeyi's songs. "Deathless" features Kamasi Washington and is a song about a racist encounter Lisa-Kiandé had with a cop, she told "Song Exploder.