How did you guys meet?
We’re actually from Maryland, outside of DC, we actually grew up 20 minutes away from each other. We didn’t meet until we were about to move from Maryland to New York for NYU.
Based on the aesthetic of the video I thought you guys were African.
We’re definitely channeling our African heritage, we both identify as African women. Even though we’re both from Maryland, we know that we come from a long line of African culture, specifically West African culture. A lot of the video is based on Yoruba culture, which is in modern day Nigeria. We definitely look to the roots of our ancestors, that’s a guiding force of our artistry. Even our name, Oshun, is a Yoruba deity, an African goddess. We want to remind our people of where we come from.
What is Oshun a goddess of?
She is the great mother, she represents water. She’s personified by the river, she’s nurturing, protecting energy, abundance, sweetness.
Do you feel like that’s coming across in the music?
Definitely, Oshun and what she represents is our ultimate intention.
How would you describe your sound?
If we used general terms, then hip hop, r&b. How we describe our music is a term we coined, ‘Iya Sol’—Iya means mother priestess healer, Sol as in soul music and Sol like the sun
In the old days music had a ritualistic or spiritual quality—do you feel like you’re tapping into that?
Absolutely. Music is energy. Very literally sound is a wave. So what we try to do is to empower people to know that we can create our own energy, we can create our own universe, we can manifest what we want through what we say and what we hear. We’re working with very spiritual concepts and putting them over beats that people can dance to. We’re using slang and language that people of our generation can identify with, while still implementing deep, important ideas. That’s something we’ve really worked to master, is how do we carry this healing energy, this ancient truth in a way that’s digestible for the public, and the youth?
Have you been to West Africa?
We haven’t been to West Africa proper, we’ve both been to Nairobi. We’re definitely going to manifest it.
I love the idea of sound as energy. I feel like there’s this wave of people turning toward this ancient, pagan culture. Do you feel like your music is casting a spell?
I definitely think that the vibrations that we create in our music shift life as it is, I think we inspire people at the very least, I don’t know if it’s bibbity bobbity boo. We push people to create their own universe.
It’s interesting to connect hip hop and r&b to African culture, which is really its origin since its connected to jazz and blues which derives from old slave songs which are essentially African spirituals. Do you guys think about that?
Yeah, that’s definitely something we think about. Hip hop is the music of our generation and our parents. It’s really just an honor for us to embody that in an authentic way. To bring it together with something so ancient, we think is beautiful. We don’t have to try too hard to be African and we don’t have to try too hard to be hip hop, because the two are connected, it just flows really well. It’s just us navigating our own journey. We are hip hop, we are soul, we are the children of these things. We are the product of what our parents and our cousins were listening to. What we create is ultimately an extension and expression of that.
There aren’t too many female rappers, or else it seems like there aren’t too many. Why do you think that is?
There’s not as many opportunities a lot of times, that’s just women in the workplace in general. It’s the same in music. I think we’re in this space right now where there are a lot of women in hip hop who are supporting each other, not even just rappers but djs and managers and bookers.
There’s definitely a culture shift that you guys are representative of and an interesting manifestation of. When you think of hip hop or rap it does skew very male, even just the subject matter and the way they speak and act. How do you approach that, how do you play with that?
We stay focused on what inspires our artistry and what we represent. We’re just carrying ourselves in a way, even when we just enter a space, that no one gives us problems. People respect that.
That’s definitely a New York thing, that kind of attitude of… “I dare you.” Are you based out of New York City? Do you still feel connected to the energy of New York City?
We’re still based out of New York, yeah. You might catch us on Nostrand Ave, you never know. We’re from Maryland and we try to carry some of that Maryland energy too, but we spent a lot of summers in New York, the energy is embedded in us—we say ‘yo’ and ‘son’ and ‘b.’
If you had to describe New York and its energy in three words, how would you describe it?
Tandi: Possibilities, crowded, and unique.
Niambi: Great food. Temperamental.