Yugen Blakrok is her mother’s daughter.
In reality, her mom is a butcher and on records, Yugen Blakrok can kill, cut up and skin rappers. “I used to come home to a blood-stained apron,” the Eastern Cape-bred rapper who is based in Joburg laughs.
But with a critically acclaimed debut album, Return Of The Astro-Goth, under her belt and a performance at Oppikoppi coming up, Yugen Blakrok is the one who is baying for blood. She’s very clear about pushing her performance boundaries and standing out.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Oppikoppi,” says the dreadlocked wordsmith, “my mom is so excited. It’s a big thing for me.” She also says she’ll be “trying new stuff out with Kanif on the MPD, Vincent on the guitar and Raiko on the cuts.”
New is what Yugen Blakrok has brought to the South African music landscape. Her brand of all-things-astro-inspired, word-twisting hip hop has made most people sit up and take note of what has been described as a future classic album.
The 2014 South African Hip Hop Awards went so far as to nominate her in a three categories: Freshman Of The Year, Best Female Rapper and the most highly contested one, Best Lyricist. “The experience was strange,” she admits, “I’d like to believe I’m not caught up in award hype but I was surprised at how much I cared.”
“I entered my album into the awards because I wanted it there in history,” she continues, “I was the only female performer on that stage and that jumped out at me because I was like: ‘I can’t be the only one!’”
Yugen Blakrok may not be the only one who raps about what lies out beyond Neptune or putting UFOs in her videos but she’s the only one I know who is placing them in the Joburg skyline or wearing UV paint outlining her skeleton or talking about chicken heads as part of a lineage positively.
“I’ve always been fascinated by astronomy and astrology,” she explains her album title, “I was a goth, moody, with teenage angst and too much eyeliner. So there was a bit of pressure working with [respected indie] Iapetus on that album because they had this image of being lyrical and hardcore. But folks liked the album and that’s great.”