Modern Griots Reviews: Yugen Blakrok’s “Return of the Astro-Goth”


Yugen Blakrok - Return of the Astro-Goth cover artIn continuing with women this week who are taking hip-hop to higher spaces:

Cosmic rap (or God Hop as some artists call it) is in South Africa by way of the Johannesburg independent label Iapetus Records (Saturn’s moon) and emcee, Yugen Blakrok. Influenced by other labels like Boogie Down Productions, The Bomb Squad and Ninja Tunes, The record label emphasizes “empower[ing] musicians not willing to conform to the mass productions of major music factories…To keep making  music free from corporate influence,” or the “mainstream music machine.”

Blakrok’s album, Return of the Astro-Goth” samples from a range of both modern and ancient people, art and ideas, like Lee “Scratch” Perry and sci-fi work like The Twilight Zone and Matrix, as well as referencing a number of scientific, mythological and esoteric spiritual wisdom and practices, like Medusa and whirling dervish. Her flow and the production has a style reminiscent of late 80s/early 90s grittier hip-hop; the type you can really nod your head to and get lost in. It’s a lot to absorb, but that is what I like (#nerdalert), and is much better than some of the rap I hear on the radio here, especially with its current lack of impactful female rappers. I hear the rising of a crone!

Standout tracks: “House of Ravens,” “Secrets of the Path,” “DarkStar,” “MedusaComplex,” “Neo.Vadar,” “Terra Tarantula” (the last three are my favorites because they are similar to what I am studying now), “SisterSlash” (love the beat on this one), and “Constellations.”

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