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First Look Friday : Meet NYC's Daisy-Age R&B Duo OSHUN & Get "Stuck"
First Look Friday : Meet NYC's Daisy-Age R&B Duo OSHUN & Get "Stuck"

First Look Friday : Meet NYC's Daisy-Age R&B Duo OSHUN & Get "Stuck"

First Look Friday : Meet NYC's Daisy-Age R&B Duo OSHUN & Get "Stuck"

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 Hiland 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 SoulquariansWell-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

OSH: One-hundred percent. That’s really our purpose. The music is a platform for our activism. We don’t do this for the personal attention or benefits. We’re using our voice to speak up about things that need to be addressed. The musicality of our message is how we’ll touch the ears and minds of the community. The long term plan is the revolution. That includes endorsing knowledge of self, health, spiritual stability and respect for Mother Earth.

Specifically, we plan for our Summer tour (God-willing) to be a service tour. The goal is to complete a service project in each and every city we visit in addition to playing new material for our supporters in those areas. We are still in the process of planning what projects we want to complete but with the direction we have been going in lately, in terms of writing and even personal growth, we feel like our upcoming service will have a lot to do with environmental sustainability and instilling our supporters with an appreciation for the Mother.

OKP: Is D.C. Go-go ever an influence on your sound? If no, do you plan to incorporate the sound of the DMV at any point?

OSH: Go-go is in our soul, even if we didn’t want it to be. We got that bounce, that’s the best way we can put it. There are definitely concrete plans to incorporate Go-go in our instrumentation, though, don’t worry.

OKP: OSHUN's visual aesthetic strongly recalls elements of the Daisy Age/Native Tongues Era as well as The Soulquarian moment--where do you guys see yourselves fitting into that lineage and the evolution of soul/r&b/hiphop generally?

OSH: We have to continue the legacy. Those movements single-handedly changed music and Black pride. “100 percent intelligent Black child,” “They say the end is near, it’s important that we close to the most high,” these are lyrics that completely shifted how our community looked at itself, and that was taken away by corporate labels and superficial rap artists who were in it for the fame. The end really is near and in order to get to the most high, our people have to elevate, the music has to elevate. We are the new generation, we are the evolution. We refuse to continue making this music if we don’t fit in that lineage.

OKP: Any influences fans might find surprising? Any projects/artists whose work you found transformative during their own growth as artists?

OSH: We were both heavily influenced by Paramore, traditional West African song, we both went through the Odd Future phase, Negro Spirituals, MIA, Toro y Moi, Little Dragon, Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged album, Fela Kuti, Imogen Heap, Outkast, DRAKE, Missy Elliot, and obviously this isn’t surprising, but we’ll just reiterate that Badu = life.

OKP: At least 1/2 of OSHUN is enrolled in the prestigious Clive Davis School at NYU--how do you balance (or combine) that with your own music? Do you draw influences from the other artists in the program? or try to define yourself against them in any way?

Niambi: I was really worried that as things progressed with OSHUN that I wouldn’t be able to balance my music with school. But Clive has actually been really supportive and integral to our progress. Working with my instructors at NYU has brought to fruition a lot of things that I never thought possible: recording techniques, writing styles, business plans. They really support our desire to be self-sufficient game changers. We definitely collaborate with other artists also and they support us as well. The general support from the entire program is beautiful, and I love them for that.

OKP: Is there any collaborative work you have planned or are looking forward to? Bucket list of collaborators?

OSH: We have some music coming out with T’nah Apex, Highclass Hoodlums and Zuri Lyric Marley. Also we’ve been working closely with production from Proda and Eric David.

Bucket list is: The Roots, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Robert Glasper, Tyler, The Creator, DRAKE, DRAKE, DRAKE, ERYKAH BADU, DRAKE, LAURYN HILL, ERYKAH BADU, DRAKE.

OKP: What's next on the horizon for OSHUN?

OSH: Earth Day 2015, #AsaseYaa