- 08 Nov 19
Ahead of their return to Ireland, US hip-hop duo Oshun discuss their African heritage, female empowerment and working with Jorja Smith.
Thandi and Niambi are inseparable. The duo known as Oshun even do phone interviews together. This is somewhat to my misfortune, as their voices are so hard to tell apart, that even their mothers get it wrong sometimes. Indeed, they are more like sisters than simply friends, a closeness that finds expression in their music. "Oshun represents the power of sisterhood, the importance of coming together," they point out.
The Washington DC duo have created their "Oshuniverse" where female empowerment is to the fore, and the biggest influence comes from African deity Oshun.
"We were both raised in an African environment," explains Thandi. "Thus, we identify as African people living in an American context. We've always been connected to our ancestors. When we decided to create together, we wanted to bring healing, nurturing and energy to our community."
Musically, Oshun fuse hip-hop, R&B and soul into a beguiling style of Afrofuturism.
"Afrofuturism to us," says Niambi, "is using concepts, images and ideas that are so ancient, they feel futuristic. It uses those very ancient ideas and images to imagine a future."
These concepts and images go hand-in-hand with the journey Niambi and Thandi have been on, which embraces healing and loving oneself.
"These are all themes that are present in our music," says Niambi, "because we navigate those things day-to-day, as well as our relationship with the divine feminine."
Quotes like this show how in touch they are with both spirituality and femininity. It comes as no surprise that the duo thrive when working with other strong women. Case in point: their collaboration with Jorja Smith on 'My World', from their debut album Bittersweet Vol. 1. Their friendship began when Oshun supported the rising UK star at a gig in New York.
"We just really hit it off," Thandi recalls. "We didn't even go straight to the studio. At first we were like, 'Let's go bowling'. And then, after a while, we were hanging out and vibing with each other. She is very fun and sweet, a very kind person."
During our interview, Oshun tease other powerful female collabs, with IAMDDB and Princess Nokia, though nothing is official yet. However, they do have a slew of new music in the pipeline.
First off, the deluxe version of Bittersweet Vol. 1 comes out this year, with Vol. 2 following in 2020. Both albums deal with "the bittersweet elements of our lives and what we've been going through", and according to Thandi, Vol. 2 "is gonna be crazy."
Oshun return to Ireland on November 10th, having already played Body & Soul in June. They're looking forward to playing indoors at The Grand Social - and who can blame them?
"It was very muddy and cold that day," they recall of Body & Soul. "But it was still a super-warm energy. It didn't feel cold and muddy, even though it was."