Ibeyi – Mama Says

I’ve recently came across this duo called Ibeyi (in Yoruban language for “twins”) online, performing Mama Says. Lisa-Kainde Diaz was playing the piano, singing soulfully and powerfully, while Naomi played the cajon, and the beats intertwine with her chest slapping and finger snapping, who also complements the sound with a beautiful back vocal. Together they create an unbelievable earthy tone. It drags me instantly into their music.

Having discovered that they are the daughters of the Cuban percussionist, Anga Diaz from the Buena Vista Social Club, one of my all time favorite band, and knowing where the twin sisters’ roots lay, with the influence of their culture and history coming from a half-Venezuelan half-French mother and an Afro-Cuban father, I started to understand where the magic comes from.

Some people would connect Ibeyi with soul and blues, but to me it seems to be quite spiritual, something almost religious. It’s a feeling of yearning and suffering. And it feels so close to nature, that it almost sounds like a group of ethnic tribes singing in a ritual and dancing for the lives on mother earth. It’s emotional and intellectually alluring.

Understanding each other so deeply, the sisters do not just complement each other, but they complete each other. Mama Says reveals the pain of loss, for the twin sisters’ father. Yet, through singing the song and literally the prayers in Yoruban, the sisters seem to be endowed with light and grace as the song ends. It’s a celebration of love, life and death.

We are not able to stop when something has to end, it is the nature of all things. “It is the end of life that gives life a chance.”

This clip of them covering Jay Electronica’s Better In Tune With The Infinite is so far my favourite performance from the duo. It’s surprising to know that the twin sisters have just turned 20, although their musical technique might not be very refined, their live performance is truly remarkable. Sometimes, simplicity is the best sophistication. Definitely looking forward to their album in 2015.


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