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