Tag: Jeru the Damaja

Live Footage: Rising South African Rapper Yugen Blakrok Performing “Ochre (Emerald Mix)” and “Picture Box” for La Bouclette TV

La Bouclette TV is a new French-based music media outlet founded by and carried by the efforts of a team of passionate people — cameramen, editors, sound engineers and journalists, who aim to produce authentic live footage with a polished aesthetic that highlight both emerging and established artists. Last year, the La Bouclette team invited rising Johannesburg, South Africa-based rapper Yugen Blakrok to perform some material off her most recent effort, the critically applauded Anima Mysterium, an effort that named one of the best hip-hop albums of 2019 by a number of media outlets. 

Over the past decade, the rising South African emcee has been a vital and hardworking member of the South African hip-hop scene for the past decade, gaining recognition through a number of features and live shows, and for a sound that mixed sci-fi  and trip hop inspired soundscapes with boom-bap beats and melodic melodies paired with Blakrok’s Lauryn Hill-like flow. She caught the attention of indie label Iapetus Records, home of artists like Robo, Hymphatic Thabs and Fifi the Raiblaster, who signed her in 2009. And as soon as she signed to the label, she teamed up with Sampletologists Kanif the Jhatmaster, starting a successful collaboration that began with a number of attention-grabbing singles and her full-length debut, 2013’s Return of Astro-Goth, an effort that was released to critical applause internationally and was championed by Chuck D and Sage Francis. 

Building upon a growing profile, Return of Astro-Goth received helped Blakrok receive three SA Hip-Hop Award nominations in 2014 — Best Lyricist, Best Newcomer and Best Female Artist categories. Since then she has toured across the European Union several times, opening for MC Lyte during her German and Swiss tour dates; Pete Rock and CL Smooth during their Denmark tour; Edo G during his Austrian tour; and Kemp (a.k.a. Little Ugly Mane) during his Czech Republic tour. In her native South Africa, she’s shared stages with Public Enemy, Sage Francis and Jeru the Damaja. She’s also been featured on several international collaborations, most notably on Kendrick Lamar’s curated Black Panther soundtrack, in which she contributed an attention-grabbing verse alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar. 

Filmed while the rising South African emcee was in Paris for last year’s MAMA Festival, the Bouclette TV session features the emcee performing the atmospheric, Portishead-like album tracks “Ochre (Emerald Mix) and “Picture Box” in a warm and intimate setting. And throughout the session, Blakrok firmly cements her reparation for dexterous and sensual flows within mesmerizing and moody soundscapes. 

 

Planit Hank is a mysterious but up-and-coming, underground producer whose latest effort, the Night Before Purgatory EP is slated for release next month — and the EP finds Planit Hank collaborating with a who’s who of gritty, New York street shit hip hop, including M.O.P., AZ, Canibus, Chris Rivers, Styles P, Kool G. Rap, DJ Evil Dee and a few others. “Life in Crooklyn,” the EP’s latest single is centered by a production that’s equally soulful and mournful as it features an atmospheric and looped horn sample, tweeter and woofer rock boom bap beats and scratching by the incredible DJ Evil Dee. Jeru The Damaja, Buckshot and AZ all wax both nostalgically and heartbreakingly about their rough and tumble childhoods — Jeru The Damaja talks about all the people he knew and loved, who were tragically murdered, with the recognition that without music, he may have ended up much like those he remembered; AZ proudly rhymes about repping Brooklyn all day; Buckshot, arguably one of the best emcees ever manages to pay tribute to BIG, make a brief point about gentrification but while pointing out that gangster shit is still there — and always will be there. But along with that the song focuses on the lack of older heads giving guidance to young cats in the way that happened for these legendary emcees. What makes the track intriguing to me is that it manages to view things from an older perspective but without sounding like crotchety old men, screaming at the clouds and the young cats about how everything fucking sucks, and how the music the kids listen to these days is awful; nor is the nostalgia within the song maudlin. If anything, it speaks to how powerful music can be — that it save the lives of people in desperate circumstances.

 

 

 

 

Nigerian-born, Montreal-based producer Teck-Zilla emerged as an up-and-coming producer with the release of Son of Sade: An Ode, an 18 minute instrumental mixtape that was intended as a tribute to both the renowned British-Nigerian vocalist Sade and the producer’s mother, who coincidentally is also named Sade. Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past two years or so, you might remember that I wrote about the Nigerian-Canadian producer’s Afro Bootleg EP, an EP that had the producer revisiting his birthplace, as he remixed some of Nigeria’s biggest hits with a populist, globe-spanning, crowd-rocking sound that would get asses moving in clubs across New York, Montreal, LagosLondonIbiza an others.

Although it’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Teck-Zilla, the Nigerian-born and Montreal, QC-based producer has been prolific, as he’s released a number of mixtapes, including the aforementioned Son of Sade and Afro Bootleg EP, as well as Souled Off: A Dedication to Molly Molls. His third and latest instrumental mixtape Joe Jackson Kids has the producer paying homage to Michael Jackson — mostly Jackson 5-era Michael Jackson as the mixtape features snippets of interviews with Michael Jackson and his family, as he was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and uncertain about his fame, and a variety of chopped up samples of Jackson 5 songs and Michael’s solo work. While reminding the listener that Michael Jackson’s ghost looms large in contemporary pop — hell, contemporary music in general — the mixtape also manages to create nuanced and empathetic portrait and interpretation of the young Michael Jackson. But ironically, the EP’s title comes from a playful, inside joke that the Nigerian-born, Montreal-based producer had with his brother. As Teck-Zilla explains in press notes “I got the title from one of my favourite Jeru the Damaja records, ‘Whatever,’ off his Wrath of the Math LP. That line always cracked me and my brother up every time, so it was kinda like an inside joke for both of us. Just remember to say ‘check it out’ after the title.”

Probably the biggest highlight on the mixtape is “Human Nature (Jackson Jones Flip)” which not only turns the original song on its head, but also reminds the listener of how influential the song has been to hip-hop and to R&B as Teck-Zilla weaves bits of Nas‘ classic Illmatic including “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” “The World Is Yours” and others songs while subtly nodding at Off the Wall.  “Letter to Michael” is a headbanging take on Michael’s work that sounds as though it were indebted to J. Dilla while “Goodbye (Last Call)” is a sensual closer that features twinkling percussion, handclaps and chopped up bits of Michael singing in a way that creates an entirely different song. “JJ Kids” features the sample that inspired the title before quickly turning into the warm, twinkling soul instrumental that’s nods to J. Dilla and Pete Rock. But perhaps most important, the entire mixtape reveals Teck-Zilla to be a remarkably playful yet thoughtful producer, whose sound has become increasingly warm and soulful.