Song of the Week: "Ghosts" by Ibeyi | Model Behaviors

Song of the Week: “Ghosts” by Ibeyi

Have you heard of these French-Cuban twin sisters yet? Ibeyi (pronounced “ee-bey-ee”) were born in Cuba and later moved to Paris. Their father was a noted percussionist from Cuba who specialized in the cajón. At the beginning of their song, “Ghosts,” you can hear this Spanish drum leading the song in.

Song of the Week: "Ghosts" by Ibeyi

They released their debut self-titled album in February of this year. Incredibly, the only other contributor on the album, apart from twins Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz, is the label owner Richard Russell. On this track, and on many tracks throughout the album, they sing in both English and Yoruba (a Nigerian language). In fact, their band name, Ibeyi, translates to “twins” in Yoruba (source).

As I mentioned above, the song starts with a catchy Spanish drumbeat. There are some delicate, synthesized vocals peppered throughout to add a bit more rhythm and depth. The drum sound almost reminds me of the Celtic bohdrán that I talked about in “The Marriage Contract.” This makes sense because both percussion instruments are very simple in construct and can make different pitches and different types of sound depending on where and how you hit them.

Lyrically, the song has a very spiritual mindfulness to it. The first lyrics we hear are, “Welcome to my earth.” Later, the lyrics go, “My ghosts are not gone. They kiss the black core of my heart. Making words, making sounds, making songs.” The last thing that’s said in English is, “We ain’t nothing without love, without love.” Then the song explodes into an Afro-Cuban beat with a multi-vocal chorus in Yoruba.

I don’t know what the words translate to, but it sounds joyous and exuberant. It’s apparent that these sisters take their heritage very seriously, which I greatly respect. Each song is crafted and melded so beautifully, switching deftly between an R&B synth-heavy rhythm, to a heartfelt piano riff, then to a shouted Yoruba chorus. Despite the paranormal name, this song is one of the lightest on the album, full of hope and joy. Behold the glory that is Ibeyi.

If you enjoyed “Ghosts” by Ibeyi, I also recommend “River” and “Yanira.”

And don’t forget to follow Ibeyi on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

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