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Ascendant MC Yugen Blakrok releases sophomore album, Anima Mysterium,

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Iapetusrecords

South African MC Yugen Blakrok just debuted 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 hip-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.

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Common faces Fatherhood in ‘Show Me That You Love’ video featuring Jill Scott

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Twitter/@Common

Common’s resume is that of a 21st-century renaissance man: GRAMMY Award-winning rapper, renowned activist, recipient of an Academy Award for his song “Glory” from the 2014 film Selma and a key influence in the emergence of a movement of thoughtful black culture spanning from Dave Chappelle to Ta-Nehisi Coates. However, in spite of all of this success, one phone call from his daughter Omoye — in which she told him that he was falling short as a father — caused his world to crumble. He had to reevaluate fatherhood, love, faith — everything.

The emcee now debuts the video for “Show Me That You Love,” which depicts this big bang moment that sparked a period of therapy and self-examination that led to the writing of his New York Times best-seller Let Love Have The Last Word and the creation of his new album, Let Love (out August 30th on Loma Vista Recordings).

Let Love finds Common sounding as vital as ever, with a soul-forward sound that delves into issues of fatherhood, masculinity, self-care and more. With contributions from A-Trak, BJ The Chicago Kid, Leon Bridges, Daniel Caesar, Dwele, Leikeli47, Jill Scott and more, it’s a radical statement that is among hip-hop’s most incisive, insightful albums this year.

Watch the video for “Show Me That You Love,” directed by Sadé Clacken Joseph.

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BBC Documentary ‘A Fresh Guide to Florence with Fab 5 Freddy’ headed US this Fall

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Hip-hop pioneer Fred Brathwaite AKA Fab 5 Freddy has announced that his acclaimed BBC documentary — A Fresh Guide To Florence With Fab 5 Freddy, which debuted in the UK this past weekend — will be coming to the US this fall. The documentary follows Fab 5 Freddy as he embarks on a quest to uncover the hidden black figures of Italian Renaissance art.

“Not only were Renaissance artists making art that defined high aesthetic ideals but they were also groundbreaking in showing an ethnically diverse, racially mixed Italy in the 15th and 16th century. You just have to look at the art,” he said in a statement.”

A Fresh Guide to Florence with Fab 5 Freddy

"You need to see this, baby!" Hip hop legend and art lover Fab 5 Freddy explores 15th-century Italian renaissance art. 🎨

Posted by BBC Arts on Thursday, July 25, 2019

The documentary centers the hip hop legend and art lover as he examines the 15th and 16th century Italian Renaissance art in 15th-century style – on horseback. Amidst superstar artists such as Michelangelo and powerful patrons such as the Medicis, Fab discovers ground-breaking images of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society that have slipped through the cracks of art history. In a 5-star review, The Financial Times says Fab “visits Florence to insouciantly blow the dust off art history” and The Guardian says that he is “on terrific form.”

A Fresh Guide is just another chapter in the incredible year for Fab 5 Freddy. He released the highly praised 4/20 Netflix documentary Grass Is Greener, which traces the history of cannabis in America and its relationship to people of color. The film takes an unparalleled look at the history of cannabis usage in America through the lens of popular forms of music — jazz, reggae, and hip hop — while also examining the racial disparities and injustices within that world. The film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and just was named to the UK-based Grierson Awards shortlist for Best Single Documentary (International).

A Fresh Guide To Florence With Fab 5 Freddy will come to US homes this fall, date and other details to be announced later this year.

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Brightness’ New Music Video ‘Dallas’ will make your Soul Cry

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Credit: Josh Goleman

Alex Knight who launched his career under the moniker Brightness dropped a new tracked, dubbed “Dallas” via I OH U. The mellow song was recorded in upstate New York with producer Sam Griffin Owens (Cass McCombs, Chris Cohen, Sam Evian), the song is – per Knight’s description – “about being spiritually hungry…the volatility and fragility of being in that state.” A heady offering equipped with slanting melody, baritone guitars, and erratic squalls that dunk you in cloudy space for the bulk of its duration, then slowly lifts you out in its final phrases to the sound of rapturous falsetto and luminous French horn.

“I wrote ‘Dallas’ when I was living alone in my brother’s garage. It’s probably hard to tell, but I was listening to a lot of Springsteen at the time, he said. I was inspired especially by his ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ record…the themes etc. I’d pretty much razed my life to the ground, and was intent on looking upwards…looking outwards.”

Knight affirms “the location and pairing (with Owens) couldn’t have been more fitting.” The song was recorded in Spillway Sound, a freshly opened studio nestled in the Catskills, a spread of nature known to stir wonder in those who’ve beheld it, from the addled attendees of Woodstock Festival to 19th-century transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The accompanying visual for “Dallas” is similarly gripping. Directed by Charlotte Evans, the video finds Knight in a state of insomnia-induced disarray, the singer slowly spiraling out in his unkempt bedroom as he becomes increasingly mesmerized by a preacher on TV. The song is the first taste of new music from a forthcoming album following his critically-acclaimed 2017 debut, Teething, and marks a darker shift in sound characterized by deeper contour, contrast, and confidence.

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