Puerto Rico-based ÌFÉ is the musical, visual, and spiritual project of American drummer/producer/singer Otura Mun (born Mark Underwood).
Self-described as "future Afro-Caribeña fusion," ÌFÉ's sound is a cross-cultural amalgam that starts with the sonic conversations of Cuban rhumba and adds layers of electronic synth textures, polyrhythmic patterns, and the beating heart of the West African Yoruba religion. After answering a spiritual call in 2012, Mun became a priest (or "babalawo") of the Ifa branch, which would become a heavy influence on ÌFÉ. Fifteen years prior, he was living at home in Hammond, Indiana. He fell in love with Puerto Rico after a chance trip to the island and later relocated in 1999 after the unexpected death of his brother. Starting anew, he spun for parties as DJ Nature and became a producer, working with local Puerto Rican musicians like reggae band Cultura Profética
, hip-hop outfit Ciencia Fixion, singer Mima, and reggaeton artist Young Ragga. Recruiting musicians Rafael Maya, Beto Torrens, Kathy Capeda, Anthony Sierra, and Yarimir Caban, as well as dancers Jorvian Santana Ayala and Walian Sanchez, Mun created ÌFÉ in 2015. Named after the ancient Yoruban city, ÌFÉ's musical blend echoes the rhythms of Konono No. 1
, the experimental reach of Gorillaz
, and the traditional soulfulness of Amadou & Mariam
, bridging Old World and New, the United States and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Africa, and the past and the present. Their debut arrived in early 2017. IIII + IIII -- the first principal in the binary divination system of Ifa -- featured the singles "House of Love" and "Bangah (Pico y Pala)," as well as a cover of Steve Winwood
's "Higher Love." ~ Neil Z. Yeung