Today, ascendant South African MC Yugen Blakrok releases her highly anticipated sophomore album, Anima Mysterium on I.O.T. Records. The album follows the release of two lead cuts, “Carbon Form” and “Picture Box” released earlier this winter.
On Anima Mysterium, Yugen delivers her nuanced rhymes with trademark fortitude and finesse over blunted and dusty instrumentals by Kanif the Jhatmaster and Joel Assaizky that effectively evoke the 1990s rap that influenced her. Adding her own metaphysical spin to the beats, Yugen fearlessly and skillfully dissects society, spirituality, and the collective unconscious. “Gorgon Madonna” opens the album with a witchy incantation, while “Obsidian Night” has a melancholy, ominous feeling. There’s a bluesy swing to “Hibiscus” and “Morbid Abakus” cruises along on a hypnotic downtempo groove. “Monatomic Mushroom” builds on a brooding guitar lick as “Carbon Form” kicks with a trip hop vibe. Eccentric icon Kool Keith delivers an otherworldly feature on “Mars Attacks.” Cinematic pieces like “Hydra” offer a glimpse into the breadth of Yugen’s sonic imagination. The narcoleptic dirge “Ochre” lingers long after the song ends. The jazzy static on “Land of Gray” closes the album like a coded transmission from a parallel dimension.
“Kanif started working on this album shortly after Return of the Astro-Goth, in-between tours and other projects we were working on at the time,” Yugen says. “I already had an idea of what I wanted to make and getting Kanif to create a soundscape fitting for the ideas and concepts I was exploring wasn’t hard. We got Joel to send in some beats and one of those ended up being ‘Carbon Form’. The great thing about working with Joel is that he’d done some remixes for me in the past and also mastered both albums, so that familiarity added a great vibe to the project. The third producer featured on the album is Seventh Galaxy; we’ve also been working closely together over the last few years. On this album, he co-produced ‘Obsidian Night’ with Kanif.”
Other contributors include turntablists Raiko, DJ Koncept, and DJ KCL. Ralph Smit from the Swaziland duo, Mr. Freddy, features on trumpet and Mauritz Muller on guitar. Iapetus Records label mates Zetina Mosia, BraveStarr and Fifi the RaiBlaster supply additional vocals, while guest emcees include Historian Himself, Jak Tripper and Kool Keith whom Yugen cites as a muse.
Firmly established as an underground phenomenon, Yugen Blakrok caught massive mainstream attention when she appeared on “Opps” alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar on the Black Panther soundtrack in 2018. Anima Mysterium proves that the fascination is well-deserved.
Hibiscus ft. Historian Himself
Monatomic Mushroom ft. Bravestarr
Mars Attacks ft. Kool Keith
Hydra ft. Zetina Mosia
Metallik Crow ft. Jak Tripper
Land of Gray