Yes, they’re only 20, yes they’re twins, and yes their music is dreamlike. Born in Paris, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz are daughters of the famed Cuban percussionist Anga Díaz who died when the girls were 11, but not before teaching them how to play the cajón and batá. I’m obsessed with their mix of Afro-Cuban beats with electronic textures, and with their English overlapping with Yoruba. Here is an NPR piece where Anastacia Tsioulcas calls their entrancing music “a world of intoxicating beauty, in songs that are smart, sweet and emotionally cracked wide open.” Do stop Instagramming and be lost in their brilliance. Also, here is a list of their upcoming shows.
2. Appropriate Behavior by Desiree Akhavan
My girl and I watched this film at the Roxie several weeks ago and I was captivated by Akvahan’s wit, emotional honesty, warmth, and unapologetic sass. Akhavan casts herself as twenty-something Shirin, and the story follows this young New Yorker amidst the “perfect Persian family” as she figures out her bisexuality and the terrible breakup with Maxine (whom she still loves) that’s left her living in a two-by-two hole in Brooklyn. Shirin embarks in a personal quest of rebellion, providing beautiful, funny insight into the complicated web of race, sexuality, youth, and love. And did I mention I love the film? Because I do. For only $12.99 you can stream the movie here.
3. Nakeya Brown
I first saw Nakeya Brown’s work on the cover of the feminist magazine HYSTERIA. I’ve been fascinated by Brown ever since, stalking her on Tumblr, reading up on any new interviews. A New Jersey-based artist, Nakeya’s simple yet stark composition focuses on black womanhood, mostly examining black women’s hair. In one of my favorite series, “The Refutation of ‘Good’ Hair,” she stages portraits of women eating Kanekalon synthetic hair. In an article for The Culture, Tania L. Balan-Gaubert reflects on Brown’s project: “The collection invites you to think about hair for its emotional value—as something to be consumed, that can perhaps also nurture or debilitate the spirit. In a sense, it evokes the kind of emotional questioning common among black women that often comes when considering one’s hair care choices, but with the raw symbolic pairing of food.”
As Brown explains on her website, “Each photograph I compose is a reflection of my African American female identity positioned within hair politics, hair rituals, and black culture. The scope of my work reconstructs racialized beauty standards and defines the bountiful actualities of African American women. I am inspired by personal girlhood memories and experiences of adulthood—most of which are situated at the center of each photographic piece.”
“I bite my hands. I am doing more biting, these days—on the knuckles, on my thumb knuckles. This is like a grown-up version of sucking your thumb—biting. This is what grown-ups do when they need comfort—they bite their hands, quietly, in their rooms. It quells the anxiety—focuses it down into two small crescents of tooth marks on my skin.”
How is it possible I had not read anything by Caitlin Moran before? Where do I live? Seriously, people. You should be asking yourself the same question. This book came out last year and is by far one of my favorite British coming-of-age girl stories. Funny, self-deprecatingly witty, packed with the underground music world of 90s British rock (and words like “mum” and “posh” and “lighting a fag”), Johanna is an overweight, unpopular teenager from Wolverhampton, who wants to save her family from destitution by writing reviews for the London-based music magazine DM&E. I wanted to be Johanna so many times while reading! I wanted her observant, ridiculous, cool-girl eye and mind (although I do not miss my teen years, but still!). NPR’s Ellah Allfrey describes Johanna’s desires as “those of any teenager longing for popularity, love, fame and recognition of their hidden talents. But living in a working class family, in a deprived neighbourhood with few prospects, she’s not quite sure how to go about fulfilling those dreams. Meanwhile, she tells us early on, ‘Today, like every other day, I’m going to go to bed still a fat virgin who writes her diary in a series of imaginary letters to sexy Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables.’” Hang up the phone right now and buy it here.