To say that the rate of South African hip-hop’s progression is nothing short of phenomenal would not be an exagerated statement. It wouldn’t be surprising either seeing as how the greater part of our local music trends tend to mirror those of the genre’s home country, USA. It was recently revealed through data compiled in study done by Buzzfeed that hip-hop is officially the most streamed genre on Spotify, and this was kind of an inevitable consequence considering the significant role it plays in pop culture these days. In short, it can no longer simply be shunned as “something those black people do”. This past year saw an astounding eruption of both the music and overall Hip Hop culture in Mzansi, with a cluster of rappers making invaluable contributions to its legacy through what will probably be considered seminal pieces of music in the coming years. Smash hits like Caracara were crafted by your KO’s and managed to have the whole country (yes our caucasian brethren too) mouthing nostalgic kwaito lyrics, beef ensued between two of the country’s biggest hip-hop juggernauts, and for the first time in a long time a multitude of rap artists were able to hang certified plaques in their abodes (these being Cassper Nyovest, KO, Khuli Chana).
2014 was undoubtedly the year our hip-hop hit its stride. Now I’m a 90’s baby so I’m not exactly sure what the predominate mood around hip-hop was before my time; primarily because I was singing along with a certain purple dinosaur on my television set when your Amu’s and Mr. Selwyns were penning rhymes in their studios, but I’m pretty confident in asserting that the country’s appreciation for this artform has never been on this scale. I mean when you have a rapper like Cassper Nyovest rallying his loyal fans to fill up a 20000 seater stadium, and attempting to achieve this feat without his name being printed next to some big international artist on a flyer, our industry is obviously doing something right. AND who could forget the momentous achievement of one of our very own artists going gold on the FIRST DAMN D…eish okay maybe we’re not there yet, but at least that’s a dream our rappers can look forward to attaining in the hopefully near future (maybe it will happen with I Believes In Me: 3rd Quadrant Ifani).
Last year saw a bulk of SA’s most influential dropping their albums and some of these included Cassper Nyovest’s Tsholofelo, AKA’s Levels, KO’s Skhanda Republic, Reason’s Audio HD, HHP’s Motswako High School, and a slew of major hits being dropped throughout the year. This high level of quality content kind of made me wonder, how the hell is 2014 going to be topped, and by who??? For this reason the following list has been compiled as a kind of prediction as to which rappers could potentially be the generators of this year’s excitement in hip-hop (List not in any particular order).
With a more than solid debut album under his belt that dropped earlier this year, and the support of a small army battalion in the form of an ever growing fan base, I would say Riky is probably a strong contender to rule 2015. I mean the guy coined a whole new word that no one even knew the meaning of, but still bellowed it out at all of his shows (wonder if Riky ever put in an application to have the phrase Nafukwa added to the South African dictionary). Anyway, we’re probably going to be seeing and hearing a whole lot more of Boss Zonke as he continues to promote his album throughout the year.
The Motswakoriginator hasn’t released a full length album since Lost In Time back in 2012 (yes, it’s really been that long), but thankfully it looks like the world will be gifted with yet another project from the rapper this year. That “Umahamba Yedawa/Mo Tsipe” (aka the new “friends with benefits anthem” for the youth) has me, and most likely the whole country eager to get know exactly how Khuli’s ChanaPower is manifesting itself in the studio. We can only hope good things.
Now we get to the rapper who went to the gym and signed a membership so he could fit into Balmain jeans! I’m talking about the very same rapper who dropped off an unnamed UJ student at her residence after a night of mischievous shenanigans around the city (and on a damn school night too). The reckless rebel I’m referring to is of course the young and talented rapper/producer Anatii. One could say that this artist has been blessed with Midas touch seeing as how everything he puts his hands on tends to the sweat glands of party-goers work overtime. He’s crafted hits for Dream Team, DJ Dimples, DJ Milkshake, Cassper Nyovest, and many more. Can’t wait to see how this saga continues…
What was “Caracara” going to be without your boy Kid X’s swag dripping all over it. Honestly, I don’t even want to venture thinking about it. With his now quintessential party line “Sdakiwe, sdakiwe, besenzani???” Kid X was somehow simultaneously able to speak for every youth who had ever regretted turning up a tad bit too much, AND also managed to echo the sentiments of alcoholics at the beginning of every AA meeting (there’s levels to these bars sbali!). With his first two singles being successful and delivering a range of memorable features between 2014 and early 2015, it’s safe to say that X has laid a proper foundation sturdy and strong enough to build a 15-story house on it. As we eagerly wait for the rapper’s next move, there is no doubt that it will be one that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Who could forget to mention Smiso Zwane aka Bhutyangchaza aka Jetset Zuper in this conversation? The 31 year old Boyz N Bucks representative has been at this for a while now, spreading his remarkably unique flavour into SA hip-hop with his collaborations with artists such as Cassper Nyovest, Reason, Riky Rick, Mashayabhuqe ka Mamba etc. Unfortunately the recognition he rightfully deserves has been streaming in ever so slowly, to the extent that your boy is getting more love abroad, even getting signed to label Affine Records which is based in Austria (we slept on our own local talent to the point where a Zulu rapper had to get signed by dudes who speak Bavarian…sdakiwe, sdakiwe besenzani?????). Anyhow it appears that we will be getting another offering from the Bonela rapper in the form of “re:code H0” later this year and that’s definitely something to look forward considering the original installment of “Holy Oxygen”.
I wouldn’t exactly characterise the next rapper on this list as being the luckiest when it comes to things working out for them. There have a been close to a million bumps in the road for Ma-Double over the course of his very turbulent career (court cases, stalled sophomore album release etc,), nevertheless he’s managed to remain a relevant figure in the SA hip-hop scene and that should definitely be acknowledged. My heart certainly goes out to those Maggz fans who actually held their breath waiting for another album after Break Out as chances are they died of brain damage from not enough oxygen entering the body. One can only hope that his new affiliation with the country’s most prominent clique (Cash Time tsotsi for LIFE!!!) will warrant the significant breakthrough Maggz deserves.
Last year this young rapper who originally made his mark on the local hip-hop scene through his music video directorial skills, decided to showcase that not only was he nice behind a lense, but also pretty damn good on a mic too. His vocals, even though uncreditted (shame on you Kiernan), definitely helped in anchoring “Run Jozi” as being one of the most memorable moments in SA hip-hop in 2014. After this appearance he dropped 3 more solo singles, one of these being “Awuthi Yam'” which even garnered a remix featuring Kid X and previous collaborator AKA. And let’s not even forget his impressive showing on the banger “Sorry Makhe” along with DJ Vigilante, Kid X, Maggz, and L-Tido. Hopefully the rapper/director’s momentum doesn’t slow up as the year progresses.
Yet another member of the Boyz N Bucks crew makes an appearance on the list in the form of very eccentric rappper Stilo Magolide. Mr. Party, as he has dubbed himself, made a number of attempts to grab the attention of listeners for a while now, but I guess the game truly took notice last year. His song “All On Me” featuring Jay Claude undoubtedly had people’s antennas going up, plus his verse on Mswenkofontein had us turning up (THE WHOOOOLE TIME!). With his latest single “Mr. Party” gaining more traction among listeners, it certainly looks like Stilo could be a force to be reckoned with this year.
The general of Motif Records, Tumi Molekane (or T From The V if you prefer that) is also set to make some noise in 2015. We haven’t received a solo effort from the emcee since that masterpiece Whole Worlds back in 2009, but the word on the street is that the Poet MC Tumi’s new album “Return Of The King” is near completion. The LP is set to feature artists Reason and Ziyon just to name a few. Hopefully he’ll be able to school these younger folks on how true emcees put it down properly.
Pro, real name Linda Mkhize has been a staple artist in the South African rap game for a minute now so it would be wrong to refer to him as anything other than a highly revered veteran. I remember listening to Wozuzobabona for the first time in grade 7 and thinking to myself, “I really don’t have enough fingers on my hands to count all of the priceless quotables being dropped by this dude!” His momentum from 2005 to 2010 was certainly unwavering and these years saw him unleashing classic cuts such as Bumpa, Uthini NgoPro, and Sekele just to name a few. His last album Continua was released back in 2012 and aside from the single Makasana, this LP didn’t truly get the acknowledgement it deserved. Nearly 3 years after its release, Pro’s presence in the game is necessary and covetted more than ever and a new album from the seasoned vet could irrefutably be something fans gravitate towards if produced adequately.
So there you have it. These are some of the artist who could potentially be the ones to dominate your 2015. Guess all that’s left now is to just wait and see how the year unfurls. Oh, and if you feel like this list was misguided in anyway or that a certain rapper was criminally omitted from it, I’ll be sure to consider your feedback and put it into my suggestion box (FYI, this suggestion box conveniently doubles up as my recycle bin).
Written by Nhlosenhle Mpontshane (follow @SoberAylaan)