A leading figure of South African rap, Yugen Blakrok told us about her experience in hip hop, how she ended up on the Black Panther soundtrack and her second album Anima Mysterium that will be out on February 1st, 2019.
When and how did you discover hip hop and start rapping?
I discovered hip-hop through TV, SA gets a lot of content from the US. I was drawn to the conscious and militant vibe that the 90s era had. But I really started rapping cause I couldn’t dance.
Your track “Opps” was featured on the “Black Panther” soundtrack. What did this change for you as an artist?
That feature threw me straight into the eye of the mainstream. Platforms that were previously inaccessible were suddenly open to my shit. It also brought people that would have had a hard time finding me closer into orbit.
You’ve always worked with SA producer Kanif The Jhatmaster. How did you two meet and how do you work on a track?
We met about nine years ago, at a Robo the Technician show in Soweto. We work through energy. Light, thought, sound are all waves and we’re into it, the frequencies we vibrate at. The vibe is everything. I’ve worked with and still collaborate with other producers, we’ve just got a chemistry of our own going. Sometimes the beats influence the lyrics and other times, the lyrics will dictate where the beat goes, it’s a conscious and continuous cycle of inspiration.
Your second album Anima Mysterium will be released on February, 1, 2019. What should we expect?
Expect a shadow-world built from word and sound. Dense lyrics and intricate production…for the seeker.
You’ve been active on the SA hip hop scene for a decade. Are there many female rappers in South Africa? How are they perceived?
We are many. At this point, I don’t think we care how we are perceived.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? If so, what kind of feminism do you most relate to?
I think I’m more of a womanist.
Who are your female role models and why?
I don’t have role models but I admire certain qualities in people. Tenacity, strength, conviction and authenticity are virtues that I’m drawn to in women. In my journey specifically, I’ve found that those are the things that get me through the most difficult situations so I have an affinity for women who display the same characteristics in whatever field they’re in. I’ve been lucky to meet quite a large number of women like that.
What are your upcoming projects?
My second album Anima Mysterium drops in February through IOT Records. I’ve also done a few features on some upcoming albums for 2019. Keep an ear out.
What do you think of Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?
I think it’s a great and inclusive platform, especially within hip-hop and the focus on marginalized groups is not only welcome but refreshing as well.