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When art and spirituality intertwine

cover kensshi maslo chernogo tmina

Debut album of the Kazakh rapper maslo chernogo tmina (meaning ‘’black cumin oil’’ in the Russian language), kensshi invites the listeners to travel between cinema, surrealism, spirituality, and traditional Kazakh music. Innovative album, kensshi paints the portrait of an artist who grew up with eclectic influences and who will definitely mark the future of Central Asian rap.

Debut album and already an artistic turning point

Nowadays considered as a new face of Central Asian rap, Maslo chernogo tmina has in fact nearly ten years of career. If the talent is here for all this time, one thing kept the Kazakh rapper from reaching the notoriety he deserves : the ephemeral style of his music. During six years, under the stage name Dokka Rise, he made songs with references to football and famous political figures. After that, he decides to change his stage name for zulkar.9 then for itch.yes. And this is the moment where his work became very interesting. Gradually, he abandons his ‘’street rap’’ for a more singular style which is the one we know today.

A lot of trials and errors, a search for identity have helped make Maslo chernogo tmina the complex artist he turns out to be in his debut album, kensshi.


If mumble rap can be considered as a fashion weapon today, especially with trap music, maslo chernogo tmina offers with his debut album a new vision of this kind of rap. Like in the tracks ‘’sagyndym’’ and ‘’Iam’’, the kazakh rapper uses mumble rap as a way to make a self-examination and asks the question of his relationship to the universe and his place within it.

A spirituality which we saw during the promotion of kensshi. Before its release, maslo chernogo tmina published on his social networks a reference to the 30th sura ‘’Ar-Rum’’and its 49th verse. A second reference at this same sura was made a few hours before kensshi’s release. Multiple references to Muslim religion that we find in this debut album, a first time in the Russian-speaking rap.

Symbol of the importance of the religion into the creative process of maslo chernogo tmina, the video clip of ‘’kensshi’’ in which we can see a representation of the religious ritual, the Tawaf, moment when Muslims go around the Kaaba during the pilgrimage to Mecca.
A video clip directed by Aisultan Seitov and which relates to another artistic domain which fascinates the rapper : cinema

…Cinema & Surrealism…

Inspired by Hitchcock’s filmmaking (as shown by the album cover), maslo chernogo tmina wants to reproduce the same dark and cold atmospheres in his video clips. In honor of his idol, he even recorded a tribute song, called “SAJH” (Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock), in which he declares « Dad, you are the mother of my hip-hop ».
One other movie director adulated by maslo chernogo tmina, is David Lynch, to whom he pays homage on ‘’bez nazvaniïa’’ (‘’Untitled’’) which samples the song ‘’Freshly Squeezed’’ from the TV show Twin Peaks.

This love for cinema is also revealed by the choices the artist made for his video clips, by selecting different directors. For ‘’kensshi’’ he chose Aisultan Seitov, 24 years old, who works with differents rappers like Offset (for ‘’Red Room’’) and 21 Savage (who directed the wonderful video ‘’a lot’’ (ft J.Cole) ).

For ‘’bez nazvanïïa’’, maslo chernogo tmina has worked with Lado Kvataniya, a film director specializing in surrealism and also inspired by David Lynch.
But if maslo stands out with his bold choices (religion, surrealism, mumble rap…) he neither forgets where he comes from nor his roots embedded in Kazakhstan.

… And traditional Kazakh music.

Third element of kensshi, the traditional music which rocked maslo chernogo tmina during his childhood. If he loves jazz, trip-hop, mumble rap and trap music, which are omnipresent in his debut album, the rapper treats traditional Kazakh music with care and integrates it subtly into this same album. Besides, what is the significance of ‘’kensshi’’ ? The term means ‘’miner’’ in reference to the city Karaganda, where the artist was born, and which is known for its coal deposits.

Artist : maslo chernogo tmina
Album : kensshi
Released : July 12th, 2019
Country : Kazakhstan
Length : 30’ 48’’
Label : OOO universal Music

Origins, childhood, memory… all these words have an important place in kensshi. ‘’ Sagyndym Seni’’ (‘’I miss you’’) contains a sample of the kazakh music band Dos-Mukasan and ends with the dombra, a traditional music instrument from Kazakhstan.

With kensshi, maslo chernogo tmina offers to us an album which reveals the complexity of the artist. At the crossroads of multiple influences (surrealism, trap music, mumble rap, trip-hop, traditional kazakh music…), the kensshi is a contemporary work based in Kazakhstan, that proposes a new vision of rap music. With his debut album, maslo chernogo tmina became recognized by listeners from Kazakhstan and CIS countries due to the experimental sound and the fusion of music genres he creates. An artist to follow.

written by Thibaut Lamadelaine aka Nomulian 5633