ESSENCE.com's "New and Next" column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet neo-soul/hip-hop duo OSHUN, whose new mixtape ASASE YAA is out now.
How did you meet and get started?
We both were awarded a highly selective scholarship at NYU during the end of our senior years in high school, and we met at an orientation for the scholarship. We were attached at the hip all throughout our first semester at NYU, and during our first winter break we decided to channel our sisterhood through music.
You've both mentioned that Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill as huge influences of yours. What about them do you admire?
We admire their devotion to themselves. Both of these women make it priority to express themselves in the truest form, and as a result they have become genuinely relatable to so many young Black woman. Their words aren't forged. Also, despite all of their attention and accessibility to the public, the always put themselves first. Their health is priority.
How does your music differ?
Our music differs because we are the new generation. We carry their influence but still provide a new energy. If we were doing the same thing, there would be no growth in the movement, no growth in the message. E.Badu & L-Boogie cleared the path for us, and it’s our responsibility to bring something new to the table.
How would you describe your sound?
We make Iya-Sol. Iya is a Yoruba term meaning mother, teacher, healer, priestess. Sol meaning the source, the sun, and also soul. With that being said, our sound takes forms in many ways. We don’t have one official sound. Rather, we allow ourselves to be verbal vessels for healing, for teaching, for nurturing. That could come in form of jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul, or even traditional West African chants.
What story are you telling with your music?
The only story we can tell is our story. The story of our people. Of course we are universal individuals, but as Black women, we know our experiences better than any others. We tell our history, we speak about our current state, and we tell our future. However, we know that there are many ways our future can pan out, and that’s why it is important for us to be clear on our past, clear on our tradition, so that our people can heal and open the realm for freedom.
Which contemporary artists inspire you?
Willow Smith, Ibeyi, Chelsea Reject, Mal Devisa, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Flying Lotus, MilkyWayv, Hiatus Kaiyote, and all of our friends.
Why should we get to know you and your music?
Everything we do is spirit-driven. We are devoted to our people and spreading love and healing in our community. Our mission is beyond the music, and our only goal is to contribute to the liberation of our people. We put nothing but good vibrations and uplifting messages in every song, and our lyrics come from our personal connections with the divine.
What do you want listeners to walk away with?
We want every listener to find pride in themselves. We are reflections of our listeners, and we want each person to feel the light inside of their self.
Finish the sentence: Our music is…