Yugen Blakrok © Christopher Terhart
Since the release of her debut album, but especially since Anima Mysterium (I.O.T Records 2019), Yugen Blakrok (born in 1984 in the Eastern Cape Province) has been regarded as South Africa’s queen of underground rap. She herself describes her work as “alternative hip hop” which combines the “darker and more lyrical sides” of the genre. Her lyrics and Spoken Word texts are futuristic, bulging, virtuoso and complex. They are full of dense metaphors and old knowledge.
Yugen Blakrok grew up on a farm in the Eastern Cape Province and began listening to hip hop in the late 1990s – artists such as Public Enemy, Zulu Nation, Wu-Tang Clan and De La Soul. In 2002 she moved from Cape Town to Grahamstown and made her first public performance in 2004 at the Hiphocalypse Mixtapes Festival. In 2007 she moved to Johannesburg where she was signed by the producer and sample artist Kanif the JhatMaster. Her first album, Return of the Astro-Goth, was released in 2013. The appearance of a song by Blakrok, recorded with Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar, on the soundtrack of the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther was a major moment for contemporary South African music.
Return of the Astro-Goth, Iapetus, 2013
Anima Mysterium, I.O.T Records, 2019