Features / Retrospective

Retrospective | Lijadu Sisters

As a connoisseur of this grand old art called music I generally think I’ve heard pretty much every genre going. So you could guess when I heard about this band that were making, what the writer described as,  ‘afro-beat soul’ I was pretty intrigued.

The band in question are The Lijadu Sisters, identical twin sisters Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu, who decided to make forward thinking, funk, post-punk music in 1970s Nigeria, which, as you could imagine, was not an easy task. The sisters had to fight for their right to be heard and remembered, they have recently released a collection of their greatest hits, in an industry and decade that didn’t want to hear women sounding anything other than ‘nice’.

As you’d expect their sound could be described as many things but never ‘nice’. They sing the same thing at the same time throughout all their songs, which takes a while to get used to at first. Jagged guitars and nagging synths constantly weave themselves in and out of songs that are based around an steady, afrobeat rhythm. I know. It’s a lot to get you’re head around. Too many genres, too much to think about but stay with me here.

Not only is their music interesting but their lyrics show that the sisters were more than just two pretty faces. ‘Danger’ documents a turbulent relationship with, what we are to assume is a violent lover, as the sisters sing that he “came into my life and dispersed danger”. ‘Cashing In’ is a cynical take on the consumerist world, which sees the sisters shout in unison “We’re cashing in, prostitution, yeah, we’re cashing in, revolution yeah / Poverty is still a common sight.” It’s that kind of social commentary that you would expect to hear from The Clash or X-Ray Spex, which makes the Lijadu Sisters so intriguing.
There are a few interviews with the sisters here and there but not enough. I wish there were more out there about them that I could find but short of going on a trip to Nigeria and asking them myself some questions may have to remain unanswered. In the meantime I’ll be listening to their recently released best of album and then finding someone who looks slightly like me to sing in unison with. I think it’s a good plan.

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