Comprised of 19 year French-Cuban twin sisters, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz, the duo of Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) take their name from the Yoruba word for twins – ibeji. The Diaz sisters are the daughters of the late and renowned Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz, who was best known as a member of the Buena Vista Social Club, and for collaborations with the likes of Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. The elder Diaz died when Naomi and Lisa-Kainde were 11 and upon his death, they studied their father’s instrument the cajon and Yoruba folk songs. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising as Yoruba, a language spoken primarily in Nigerian has been spoken in some fashion in Cuba since the 1700s when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean island nation.
With Naomi Diaz playing the percussive instruments of cajon and batas and Lisa playing piano, the twins have started to gain attention across the blogosphere for a sound that employs elements of contemporary pop, hip-hop, electronica, jazz, blues and traditional Yoruban sounds in a trippy mix that manages to do something similar to what Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective‘s Roots Before Branches does – make a sonic and spiritual connection between the African Diaspora of the Caribbean, the rest of the Western world and Africa itself, and in a way that’s both modern and timeless.
“River," one of the singles off the French-Cuban sibling duo’s forthcoming full-length, self-titled debut employs the use of old school hip hop, boom-bap inspired beats, ominous, swirling electronics, a looped piano sample, Yoruba-based percussion, and lyrics sung both in English and Yoruba. it’s danceable but it also manages to have a deeper message – the song talks about a baptismal ceremony and how river water is supposed to purify one’s soul.
Check out this live footage of the Diaz sisters performing "River” at the Festival Les Inrocks, It should give you a good taste of what to expect when the Diaz sisters making an 11 date tour to support the new full-length effort. And it’ll include a March 25th stop at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.