In a blog post by uDiscoverMusic, it is noted that the early days of hip-hop saw female rappers as an essential component to the genre’s biology, unapologetically detailing their interpretations and experiences of the world they lived in. They all had distinct variations in style, flow and lyrical content, but what each woman had in common was a fiercely independent voice and the power to remain consistently and resoundingly herself.
Having been introduced to the rest of the world by her effortless, unfiltered feature on a track with urban poet Kendrick Lamar and rapper Vince Staples titled “Opps” on Black Panther: The Album earlier this year, Joburg-based underground lyricist Yugen Blakrok is not only respected for her artistry but is highly influential.
After joining the indie label, Iapetus Records in 2009 – home to artists such as the late, great Robo, Hymphatic Thabs and Fifi the RaiBlaster, she teamed up with sample extraordinaire Kanif the Jhatmaster. They released several videos and singles leading up to her debut album Return of the Astro-Goth in 2013 which was well received by the hip-hop community at large, and received a multitude of five-star ratings.
Fast-forward a few years and raw bars, Yugen and Kanif have recently wrapped their third European tour. The duo have been working tirelessly mixing up the ever-consistent cocktail of Yugen’s tongue-twisting multisyllabic rhymes embodying a sound and flow reminiscent of the early 90’s. Kanif’s production style which is made up of layers of morphed and filtered pads that creak with analogue warmth, brings forth ‘Carbon Form’, the first single off Blakrok’s sophomore album Anima Mysterium, set for release early next year in partnership with French indie label I.O.T Records.
Yugen’s confidence and gumption are evident on ‘Carbon Form’ as she is described to “step over ethereal cushions of bass, thick ominous pads and dusty snares with her customary fortitude. She skillfully weaves astronomy imagery as she raps about her esoteric odysseys. She sounds comfortable, her voice is lower in pitch and every word lands perfectly on-beat”.
In a brief interview with Brooklyn Vegan, the rap goddess explained that “‘Carbon Form takes’ its inspiration from one of the most abundant elements in the universe and also, one that is common to all life on this planet. In its various forms, it embodies duality: from soft, dark graphite to hard, sparkling diamond. In essence, it is the spirit of Women. In the visual treatment, the divine feminine is portrayed in a field (representing nature), within a church (representing religion) and in shadow (representing space and the cosmos).”
Directed by Gael Lefeuvre, the mysterious visuals see a slow mode Yugen donning a wooden crown in a multitude of spaces. The lingering essence of curiosity presented by scenes that hold much enigmatic promise is indeed a kaleidoscopic treat to watch.