Photos: Ebru Yildiz
Radiant beacons of the Oshuniverse, Thandi and Niambi weave textured layers of soulful hip-hop, transporting you to celestial, intergalactic realms where self-love and feminine power abound.
“The Oshuniverse is the land of sweetness,” Niambi explains, “it’s in the tenth dimension which means it exists in space where possibilities are infinite. We have the ability to create, manifest the reality we see fit as a community, as a family, as a society that is sensitive to women, to its mothers, and sensitive to sweetness. So it’s kind of this imaginary space but it’s not. It’s a space that’s very real that we bring to hip-hop, that we bring to the world,” she adds.
Named after a goddess, spirituality is very much the guiding force behind everything that they do. “Oshun as a deity, as an energy, as a spirit, was just very prevalent in our lives when we started to create together.” Thandi says, “We had just moved to New York, were at a very important age where you transition from being a girl to becoming a woman and we were just really trying to create our lives for ourselves without our parents in this new city and the energy of Oshun was very grounding for us both. It allowed us to remember the spaces that we came from, the culture that we came from and affirm us in our growth. Then the thought came to mind of calling ourselves OSHUN and it just made so much sense.”
“We have a responsibility as women to remind our sisters of their power.”
Emphasising the importance of being in tune with spirituality Niambi expresses, “We’re spiritual beings having spiritual experience and so it’s really important just for our physical, emotional, spiritual, holistic wellbeing. A big part of that is acknowledging where we come from, acknowledging our ancestors and participating in the roads that they have paved for us and continuing to create space for them and honouring them for creating space for us”.
Intrinsically intertwined is this celebration of femininity within OSHUN’s music. “We both come from homes and families that are very matriarchal in a lot of ways,” Thandi articulates, “and we were raised and grew up to know our power as women. Obviously it’s easy to feel diminished in this world as a woman but I think the both of us have just been very clear that women are so powerful.” Continuing this, Niambi adds, “We have a responsibility as women to remind our sisters of their power so they can realise their power as well. So the reason that we’re able to exist firm in this is because, like Thandi said, these are the spaces that we come from but they’re not always affirmed in their divine femininity. We’re standing here to represent that, to hold space for that – to remind people”.
“Bittersweet… is kind of our introduction into the world of the Oshuniverse, of our journey, of our travels to earth…”
They’ve recently released Bittersweet vol.1, a record that emits positivity, exudes sensuality and offers grounding influence. “We play with a lot of intergalactic, outer space, universal themes.” Thandi says, “so just embodying the energy of us as a group, OSHUN being from this land, or this universe essentially known as the Oshuniverse. Bittersweet… is kind of our introduction into the world of the Oshuniverse, of our journey, of our travels to earth and that’s pretty much the theme of the entire album.”
Describing the writing process Niambi states, “we create in a very tight nucleus. Thandi, myself, and Proda, who’s kind of our honorary third member, we all bring ideas to the table and then we lock ourselves in the studio and just vibe. We just create and we all add some seasoning here and there, add some ingredients into the pot and then we put it in the oven together”.
Alongside their sonic vibrancy, OSHUN channel a distinctive visual aesthetic drawing “influence from Afrofuturism and artists that came before us” as well as their contemporaries and their deity namesake. “We play with a lot of ethereal, outer space visual themes,” Thandi details, “a lot of bright colours because Oshun is bright and sweet. Her main colour, the deity, is yellow so we like to play with that palette and then also bright pinks. And Proda, aside from the musical things, he’s also our graphic designer so it’s a lot of his personal genius too.”
The serenity that the two of them project through their music is omnipresent in their everyday lives: “Everything with us is very holistic, mind, body, spirit and space. Our space is a huge reflection of us,” they emphasise. Considering the self-care practices they implement to maintain this grounding, Thandi reflects, “It’s really easy to wake up to fifteen text messages coming in as soon as you open your eyes and be like ‘alright I woke up one minute late I have to jump on all this stuff right now’. But taking that moment, those ten minutes to be like no, let me think about what I want to do today, what I want to manifest and just take time to really breathe so I can go into the workspace with a clear mind, that’s super important.” And those are undoubtedly wise words to take heed of amidst the freneticism of modern living.
OSHUN play The Fleece on 15th May, with Bittersweet vol. 1 out now.