Femme fatale tandem OSHUN lift their heads above the (not just) knee deep pool of modern r&b to introduce a sound that draws less on the melancholy, often gothic tones we associate with future soul, feeling much closer to dawning of a new Daisy Age. Comprising NYU students Niambi Sala and Thandiwe, the duo has taken to heart the soulful, sampladelic and socially aware artistry of OKP champions like Erykah Badu, the mighty Roots crew and Lauryn Hill and synthesized them into a new and true sound that blends the strongest of all of their respective suits in lyricism, composition and melodics.
Nowhere is this more clear than their freshly-pressed clip for the dulcet, Rhodes-soaked and vibe-heavy joint “Stuck” (watch below via OKP Premiere!). It finds the duo of supple altos delivering tender and affectionate lines about life, love and culture, revealing the makings of a whole new wave of Soulquarians. Well-versed in Yoruba folklore, spirituality and their broad spectrum of musical influences (ranging from Paramore to Drake) these divas are off to a tremendous start and we were able to catch up with them and bear witness to some of the methods behind the madness. We spoke of r&b past, present and future, delving into how they crossed paths, their musical activism, what their dream collaborations may be and where they see themselves down the line.Read on to learn about this promising young group below and click through to page 2 to witness the mellow sorcery of OSHUN’s inaugural video for “Stuck.”
OKP: How did the two of you link? and what forms the common elements/interests that define OSHUN?
OSHUN: We met at an orientation for a scholarship at NYU. The scholarship program is given to young minds who are dedicated to social justice and serving the community, so we met in an environment based out of that. Although we only met a year and a half ago, we’ve been sisters, eternally, so the commonality between us is a manifestation of that sisterhood.
OKP: Touching off on that, please expound on the choice of the name ‘OSHUN’ and its significance–what is your individual and collective connection to that Orisha and to Yoruba spirituality in general?
OSH: We decided to call the group OSHUN because we attempt to emulate her essence in our music. All the things Oshun represents — love, femininity, diplomacy, and sensuality — are present in our vocals, our sound, our demeanor.
Niambi: I was raised in a Pan-Afrikan community and my mother has practiced Yoruba and Akan spirituality for as long as I can remember. So I have always been around Yoruba Ifa tradition, but it wasn’t until midway through high school that I really invested in developing my relationship with the culture. Oshun specifically presented herself to me the more I sought her guidance and since then, I continue to learn her and all extensions of her – her sisters, her children, her followers. I am her child.
Thandi: I grew up with a consciousness of African spirituality and ancestry, but it wasn’t until college that I developed a relationship with Yoruba Ifa tradition. Throughout my 19 years Oshun has been present, but in the last year, I’ve been able to put a name and practice to her presence. In the past couple of months, I’ve really developed a personal relationship with that particular Orisha. I see so much of me in her and her in me.
OKP: We really want to know more about “Window Pain” which has a definite Baduzim vibe. Can you speak more about how it feels to sing over sampled/programmed beats? How did that track, specifically, come about?
OSH: Wow, that comparison means a lot. We’re obsessed with Erykah, especially Thandi. Speaking our minds over a jazz sample and boom-bap drums is the perfect metaphor for being young and Black in America, so it feels like the purest form of expression for us.
We’re part of a Brooklyn-based management collective called Vapor Trails, which just had its one-year anniversary. So in celebration of that, we dropped the song along with 9 other amazing tracks from V-trails artists on the Vapor Trails Soundcloud.
We found the beat and wrote the song the day before we recorded it. It was super short-notice when we got word that Vapor Trails was doing the mass release, but it was perfect because we already had a concept in mind. Actually, Niambi’s father had the idea for the song looking out of her Brooklyn window. It seemed really simple at first, but we ran with it.
OKP: You’ve mentioned a common interest in activism. Do you have any longterm plans to pair their music with a larger social justice initiative or something similar?
>>>Click Thru to Page 2 to Watch The “Stuck” Video Premiere