All my life I have felt uninspired and isolated from the mainstream artists who supposedly represent me and my generation. However, this year, I discovered a new rising talent who I find relatable and inspiring: Ibeyi.
For artists not part of an Anglophone country, never mind while also being part of an ethnic minority, acquiring international fame as a music artist can be difficult. However, with this French-Cuban duo of twins, these obstacles do not seem to pose a problem. With millions of views on their music videos and a world tour this year, it is likely that in a year’s time everyone will know their name.
In addition to this success, Ibeyi embraces their mixed race identity and integrates it both in their music and in their persona. For instance, they chose to incorporate the Yoruba language in their songs, an homage to their Yoruba culture, and to their deceased father who brought them their passion for music. The Yoruba are a West African ethnic minority that developed a diaspora in Cuba due to slave trade.
Blended language use is an example of mixed race people refusing to choose between the facets of their identities. Ibeyi is not speaking only English, or only Yoruba: they are using both to create something beautiful. Ibeyi’s linguistic diversity in their music should encourage more polyglot mixed race artists to do the same.
Ibeyi is directing their whole identity into their creations; they are not afraid of showing their emotional side and they are not afraid of showing their culture. Their father’s memory is a common theme, and in their music video ‘Mama says’ we see one of the twins breaking down while singing with her sister and mother. They are not trying to appear perfect, and therefore unrelatable.
I genuinely hope that Ibeyi will make history in the music world. In our current society, the number of mixed race individuals is constantly increasing, which calls for more representation in the music sphere. Artists should not hide their culture to please the music world, and the introduction of more artists like Ibeyi could allow this.