OSHUN Talks FWD, Nubian Mafia, and Self Truths
OSHUN can be described as part hip hop, part floetry, part everything-you-love-about-Lauryn-Hill, but they’re so much more than that—under the wing of their collective, Nubian Mafia, the sister duo is also fostering unity and freedom in their community, one step at a time. Exhibit A? Tomorrow’s FWD event, which, along with celebrating the literal graduation of OSHUN’s Thandiwe and Niambi Sala from NYU, is also set to celebrate people moving forward in all walks of life, regardless of which chapter they’re currently in.
This duo’s mantra of constant progress and self-love has us unsurprisingly sold, and their perfect balance of artistic and political leanings? Just the delectable cherry on top. Peep our full interview with the pair below, and snag your tickets to Saturday’s show here.
Are you guys getting stoked for your FWD show on Saturday? Congrats on graduating by the way!
Niambi: School is over, but we just moved so we’re trying to organize and clear our space so that we’re prepared for this next stage that we’re transitioning into, which is marked by this event [on Saturday]. This event is like our graduation.
Cool, I know the event is like a celebration of your graduation and of people just graduating from whatever chapter they’re currently in in life.
Niambi: Yeah, you know there’s a lot of newness in the air, even just in terms of it being the beginning of summer, a lot of people are moving this time of year, so it’s a very transitional period of time. Going from a colder, darker day to a very much brighter day, and we wanna move forward and push forward and it’s an opportunity for people to link up with other like-minded folks and continue to manifest that forward push.
Can you guys talk about the Nubian Mafia movement and what that means for both this event but also just your music in general?
Thandiwe: Yeah, for sure. So Nubian Mafia is a lifestyle movement essentially that Niambi and I started, along with some other core members—well, with Highclass Hoodlums. It became an embryo when we started OSHUN in the first place, but recently in the past year, we’ve been figuring it out and decided that it’s a movement that arms the past, present, and future with the mind, the body, and the spirit. Which is kind of a mouthful but, the goal is to really implement and to hope for a space where young people can have fun and turn up and still learn and experience something that’s powerful, that’s righteous, that’s all these things.
N: Yeah, Nubian Mafia is a space where it’s more collective. We have our own individual things that we do and our own individual niches that we exist within but Nubian Mafia is the thread that unifies people doing this work in their own spaces. This is really only our second event, or third event actually, as Nubian Mafia, so we’re still like she said figuring out our space in the community, but is it to function as a community space—being able to interact directly, on the ground.
So you guys dropped the “Not My President” single about a month ago—do you feel like part of the idea with moving forward is political or politically-tinged?
N: Yeah, everything that Nubian Mafia does is political, but it’s not political in a way of us being involved in the government, it’s political in that we’re saying…with “Not My President”, with the song in general, we’re saying that we can govern ourselves. We don’t have to depend on any system that has proven itself to be less than righteous from the beginning. And we, just as OSHUN, as Nubian Mafia, as people Niambi and Thandiwe, our truth is that we walk in self-sovereignty, being free, being liberated. And with all of the crazy things going on in this moment in time, especially as kids like us, people who were born in 1995, we’ve seen so many things, we witnessed a whole lot. First of all, the history of things going on, as slavery, as us being black women, but then we witnessed 9/11, we witnessed the war in Iraq, we witnessed George Bush, we witnessed Obama, and now we have this guy Donald Trump. And so, we come from a perspective that just says that we know for a fact that there’s way that we’ve been failed, and so we have the power within ourselves to manifest our own politics.
T: Yeah, and even though we don’t know necessarily the way to do it, because no one person has all the answers, that’s why we’re having these things where we’re creating spaces for people to come together and talk about it and build. We all know that we need to move forward, but in order to move forward, we have to find good companions. That’s what this is about.
Have you guys gotten any really cool or memorable reactions from people or had any really great conversations come out of that?
N: The last event that we had was actually a benefit concert event for a young man who was murdered in East New York, Brooklyn, by the police.
T: Yeah, we had a benefit. It was a concert, but it wasn’t. It was really a community event. There was a lot of dialogue, because the members of the family were there, and it was more intimate than our first one, which was the Fuck The Fourth independence day event. This one was called Rise in Power, and it was a lot more intimate. This was before Donald Trump was elected, but there was still panic around that, so there was dialogue around, “How do we stop this from happening? This guy didn’t do anything wrong.” So the conversation started like that. But it was like, do we vote the problem away? Do we drive the problem out? You know? We didn’t expect for it to be answered in that one space—we vowed to continue to create spaces for those conversations to be held. Something that I think was powerful was where we had this kind-of release ritual where we had these white balloons for everyone. Everyone had one and just spoke their intentions into it, the things that we wanted to release, the things that were no longer serving us, and it was really powerful. It was really powerful—everyone did it, we stood in a circle, and then at the same time we let it go. FWD is a different energy all together, just because of the space, but it’s the same in that it’s in alignment with the overall purpose of creating those spaces and connecting people.
As far as intentions for this next chapter of OSHUN and in your individual lives, what’s the vision?
N: We want to have a major influence on our generation, and just the world, and continue to push the message of knowing where you come from and knowing where you’re going, and in that process just always loving yourself. OSHUN is love, OSHUN is healing, OSHUN is sweetness, and so, in the midst of chaos and violence in the world, we come with love and power and motherliness.
T: Yeah, I think just to grow, in all ways. Musically, we want our sound to grow, our minds to grow, our view of the world, how we experience the world, how we see ourselves, how we love ourselves—we just want to expand and rise and elevate in all aspects of our lives. OSHUN is just an extension of our personal journey, and same with Nubian Mafia. We can only do what we’ve done ourselves, and what we’re a part of ourselves, so we just want to continue walking the path.
Featured image courtesy of OSHUN
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