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Publication: The cosmic submarine—Yugen Blakrok’s sonar echoes
This article by Pius Jonas Vögele explores South African hip-hop artist Yugen Blakrok, applying Afrofuturism as a conceptual framework.
Yugen Blakrok received considerable attention with her appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack for the blockbuster feature Black Panther (2018), which brought Afrofuturism into the international mainstream. While Afrofuturism is a concept mainly developed in the African diaspora, as for instance with Sun Ra’s MythScience, Yugen Blakrok’s South African perspective yields a distinct approach to the aesthetic levels of the lyrical, sonic and visual. The article primarily focuses on Blakrok’s lyrics, as they afford the most thorough basis for an analysis of the features that, despite Afrofuturism’s inherent interplanetary consciousness, distinguish Blakrok’s unique take on Afrofuturism, which will be exemplified with a close reading of the song “Opps” from the Black Panther soundtrack. Even though Yugen Blakrok creates a highly eclectic, holistic approach, “Opps” reveals its contextual embeddedness in the Afrofuturist discourse with its echoings of the Drexciyan myth. The article further delves into the otherworld of the artist’s most recent album Anima Mysterium to highlight her aquatic tropes that build on the conceptual metaphor “space is an ocean” in her exploration of both the outer and the inner cosmos.