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Sho Madjozi. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

20 South African Artists Who Could Fuck Up The Game In 2018

It's going to be a good year.

The year 2017 brought us breakout acts of different genres such as Sjava, Shekhinah, Shane Eagle, Distruction Boyz, Zoe Modiga, YoungstaCPT, and A-Reece among others. Through the release of full-length albums and their presence all over traditional and digital media, those new names showed us they weren't just momentary fads and became fully-fledged artists with promising futures.

We saw acts bend genres, showing us that music is headed to a place where genre will be a thing of the past. What's also impressive is that a reasonable number of these artists have gotten rid of the middleman–the label, and are doing shit on their own, which allows for more creative freedom, and we are so here for that!

2018 is still young and pregnant with possibilities. Below is a list of artists who we feel will be as big as the aforementioned artists as the year progresses. The list is in no particular order.

1. Langa Mavuso

Langa Mavuso's voice is lush, luxurious, and carries emotion with ease. His 2017 EP, Home, is a beautiful tearjerker that ironically has healing power. Now that he's signed to Black Coffee's Soulistic Music label, excuse the cliché, but the sky is the limit for the soul singer, and 2018 is the year he will truly get to shine.


2. Sho Madjozi

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Sho Madjozi has worked with PH, OkMalumKoolKat, PS DJz, Ms Cosmo, among other notable names. Her hit song "Dumi Hi Phone" received the visual treatment last year, giving it an extended life. Sho Madjozi's combination of hip-hop and gqom has proven a working formula, and makes her appeal to two of the biggest youth music markets in South Africa. Hopefully in 2018 she'll release a full body of work. It would be the last nail on the game's coffin.


3. Zoocci Coke Dope

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Zoocci Coke Dope is a well-rounded artist—he sings, raps and produces. His debut EP, Morning Star, shows all those three talents. The hooks he has lent to other artists' songs have also given us hits. Try imagining "Flavours" and "Pablo" by Big Star, Ex Global's "So What?" and "I Don't Know" by DJ Speedsta, without his vocals. Unlike most of his counterparts, Zoocci is sincere and tells his story like the world won't get to hear it. With the release of his first music video for "All Night Long," and the collaborations he has in the pipeline, 2018 will be a great year for the Pretoria-based talent.


4. Robin ThirdFloor

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Durban's Robin ThirdFloor is making this whole independence thing work for him. He managed to perform at SXSW, and tour some parts of South Africa after the release of his EP Bhotela. On the project, the artist combines the house and kwaito influences of his city with his hip-hop roots and his producer's electronic sensibilities to build on what artists like OkMalumKoolKat are already known for. With more videos and performances, which are highly likely on his bucket list for the year, Bhotela could travel further than it has, and the artist can only grow bigger.


5. Saudi

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Saudi is a silent killer. His contributions to hits such as "Vura" by DJ Citi Lyts, "Ameni" by Miss Pru, among others, are nothing short of remarkable. Towards the end of 2017, he released his debut album D.R.U.G.S Inc, which was stellar. Just like his Ambitiouz Ent label mate Emtee, Saudi is an all-arounder—his songwriting skills are mind-blowing, and he can rap and sing well. D.R.U.G.S Inc is replete with single prospects, and given the pushing power of his label, in 2018, he will only get bigger.


6. Darkie Fiction

Photo by Sabelo MKhabela.

Darkie Fiction released their debut single "Selula" last year, and it caught fire. The Internet hit was produced by Jakinda, one half of the duo Stiff Pap. "Selula" refuses to be boxed into one genre—it's a conflation of hip-hop, kwaito, electro and other genres, yet it doesn't sound like a scattered mess. Darkie Fiction are doing what a lot of artists fail to do, and that is gathering their influences to create music that's unique to them. 2018 should be interesting for the duo.


7. Priddy Ugly

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

With the release of E.G.Y.P.T, his debut album under the label Ambitouz Ent, the East Rand rapper Priddy Ugly is poised to get bigger. There are countless potential singles on E.G.Y.P.T—"Look Alike," "Smogolo," "Truth Be Told," "Karrots," among others. He already got the raps figured out, and is rolling with one of the meanest producers in South Africa. With the muscle of Ambitiouz Ent, the rapper will be able to achieve the star status that he's been deserving for the past few years.


8. Una Rams

Una Rams got next. Last year, his independently released single "Nobody" caught on after he dropped the visual for it and his collaborations with artists such as Muzi and 80 Script kept his name on our lips throughout 2017. Una Rams own label, Airborne Entertainment is in partnership with Black Coffee's Soulistic. His soulful music obviously caught Black Coffee's ear. Una Rams has the sauce and potential for being a pop sensation. Don't say we didn't warn you.


9. Frank Casino

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Frank Casino's Riky Rick-assisted "Whole Thing Remix" won Best Collaboration at the South African Hip Hop Awards in December. The East Rand rapper's latest hit, "Low," features A$AP Ferg, and packs serious heat. Casino has been consistent for the past three years. In 2016, Frank Casino released the impressive Something From Me EP. 2018 should be the year he really becomes a breakout star. The video for "Low" is underway, and should blow up when it finally drops.


10. Stiff Pap

Stiff Pap came from nowhere and made a huge dent in just one year. After releasing their single "Dlala," an amalgamation of gqom, kwaito, hip-hop and electronic, they followed up with an equally potent EP, Based on a Qho Story. The project was recorded at Red Bull Studios, and "Dlala" went on to become the official theme song for Red Bull Culture Clash. They performed at Afropunk in December after winning the battle of the bands competition prior to the event.


11. J Molley

Photo by Sabelo.

J Molley raked in thousands of plays on SoundCloud, a rare feat for an up-and-coming rapper in South Africa. The artist's brand of hip-hop is melodic and emo. He has managed to work with the likes of DJ Capital, Zoocci Coke Dope, PH, and Riky Rick, in just a short period of his career. He is highly likely to follow-up his EP Dreams Money Can Buy with an album in 2018, and, of course, do more features.


12. KLY

The trapsoul artist signed to Ambitiouz Ent last year, and is currently working on his debut album, which will follow-up his impressive EP KLYmax released in 2016. KLY has sung hooks on songs by Priddy Ugly, Rouge, Maggz, Shane Eagle, among others, and he always steals the show. R&B; is making a huge comeback worldwide, and KLY couldn't have emerged at a better time.


13. Rouge

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Rouge released one of the best albums of 2017 with The New Era Sessions, a criminally overlooked body of work that featured Big Star, KLY and Moozlie. Rouge can rap circles around your favorite, and she's been featured by Shekhinah, DJ Switch, Reason, Al Da 3rd, Solo, and a few more. She won Best Female at the South African Hip Hop Awards and, while that was great, it's still not clear why The New Era Sessions wasn't up for Album for the Year. She's currently working on a mixtape that will further solidify her place in the game.


14. Wandile Mbambeni

The Cape Town singer released a great EP last year titled Maturation. He went on to sign a deal with Gallo, and released the visual for his single "I Know." There's always space for a singer with soul in the South African music scene, and Wandile Mbambeni's upcoming album should be a spectacular release that should make a reasonable impact in 2018.


15. Bonj

Since her days as the front lady of the band The City, Bonj has always been a gem. The multiple features she has done, with artists such as Shane Cooper, Maramza and Jackie Queens, prove her vocal prowess as a force of nature. She recently signed to Universal Music Group, and we are curious to hear what she has been working on. One thing we are sure about is it will be one of the strongest releases of the year. Let's have this conversation again in a few months' time.


16. Morena Leraba

Morena Leraba, from Lesotho is currently between the hilly kingdom and Johannesburg, where he is working on music with artists such as Spoek Mathambo and the BLKS JKS. He recently performed with the latter at their collaborative set with Thandiswa Mazwai at Afropunk in December. Leraba's modern take on the traditional Lesotho genre famo, blended with hip-hop and electronic influences, is an exciting sound that is yet to be named. "Impepho," his collaboration with Mankind is a great place to start, and the song's music video will give you life.


17. Rowlene

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Rowlene fell onto our radar when she appeared on Nasty C's debut album Bad Hair in 2016. "Phases," the song she was featured in by the rapper, was one of the standout tracks on the album. She owned the second half of the song, flexing her vocal abilities over mellow keys. She also recently impressed on A-Reece's sophomore album From Me To You and Only You on a song called "Between Me and You." Rowlene does more than just sing on rappers' songs, though. Her solo efforts are equally impressive. Peep "Won't' Get Better" for instance, a pop dance floor packer that has R&B; sensibilities. Whether it's through features or her solo songs, Rowlene deserves to shine in 2018.


18. Flame

Flame's 2017 EP, Clouds, was one of the best hip-hop releases last year. The project boasted appearances from Zoocci Coke Dope, A-Reece, and Da L.E.S, among others. If you are into music with a great vibe—where vocals and beats marry perfectly, then Flame is your dude. The artist combines singing and rapping effortlessly, and has a great ear for beats. He made impressive appearances on fellow Wrecking Crew member A-Reece's From Me To You and Only You.


19. Tipcee

Tipcee's solo career is finally blossoming after years of bubbling under. Last year, she appeared on Distruction Boyz' gold-certified album Gqom is the Future, on the song "Madness." Her solo single "iScathulo," which features Busiswa, DJ Tira and Distruction Boyz was a hit. The gqom artist is currently signed to DJ Tira's Afrotainment label, and looking at the label's track record, it's not hard to predict that Tipcee can only get bigger in 2018.


20. Ryki

Electropop artist Ryki released her self-titled debut EP in March last year. On the project, the singer showcases her vocal ability over a varied selection of synth and bass-heavy beats, with a few sprinkles of house, courtesy of producers Sketchy Bongo, Ameen and Kyle Watson. Rappers Aewon Wolf and Manu WorldStar also made appearances. Ryki's music has been a staple on stations like 5FM and East Coast Radio. Her sound is festival-ready, and she and her band should be on more stages this year.

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This Afro-Feminist Marching Band Is Challenging Negative Stereotypes of Black Women In Paris

30 Nuances de Noires is fighting the erasure of black women in public spaces one march at a time.

If you stroll through the streets of Paris and its suburbs and stumble across a parade of black women wearing shiny outfits, singing and dancing, consider yourself lucky: you've just come across the Afro-feminist marching band '30 Nuances de Noires' (30 Shades of Black).

The band was created by dancer and choreographer Sandra Rose Fanchine. Tired of the erasure of black women in the public space and of the negative stereotypes associated with them, Fanchine has brought women (and a few men) together in this project. Professional and amateur singers, dancers and musicians, they have all accepted to embark on this journey and use their talents to launch this much-needed conversation in France.

Sandra Rose FanchinePhoto by SEKA photography

The band's musical coordinator, Célia Wa, is a flautist, singer and composer. When Fanchine invited her to take part in the project, she was very enthusiastic to have the opportunity to play alongside other black female musicians and take part in something that portrays black women in a positive light and in a flamboyant way. She was also keen to play alongside other black female musicians and coordinate them, outside, in the public space, where music is accessible to everyone. But it wasn't easy going. "It's hard to find women who play wind instruments" she explains. "But especially black women. So, we decided to incorporate a few black men musicians—men who understand the meaning of the project and support us. They don't try to dominate the space, they wear dresses and headwraps, they really blend into the group."

Célia WaPhoto by SEKA photography

Wa hopes the project will encourage many young girls to become professional musicians by showing them that being a fulfilled woman, having a music career and a family life, is possible.

Awori is the singer of the band Kamiawori, and a singer and dancer in the parade. She accepted Fanchine's invitation to join the band because she realized a brass band made of women—especially black women—was something unique that she wanted to be part of. "Throughout history, women had been forbidden to play wind instruments because blowing into those instruments was assimilated to a sexual act", says Kamiawori. "As a result, nowadays, the majority of people playing these instruments are men, so the fact that Sandra was looking for black women only was really appealing to me".

Earlier this year the band had the chance to travel to French Guiana to do a performance with black Guyanese women. This is the kind of future she wants for the project. "I want us to go to places in France where there aren't many black people, as well as to the former French colonies and the French overseas territories," she says. She hopes the project will start conversations everywhere, and empower black women to talk about their issues in their own words and organize their own emancipation.

AworiPhoto by SEKA photography

***

Read on for our conversation with Sandra Rose Fanchine. This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I'm 51 years old, I was born in Martinique and grew up in Côte d'Ivoire. I'm a hip-hop dancer and choreographer. I first came to France 22 years ago to study graphic design but along the way, I found hip hop and started dancing out of passion. With my background in graphic design, I knew I was going to be a choreographer eventually, I was convinced I could use hip hop beyond its performance aspect, bringing my visual artist's knowledge to it and using it to promote a narrative. So, when the age of maturity came, I became a choreographer. My first work considered the social construction of femininity, and I then created a piece which dealt with the memory of the black body. 30 Nuances de Noires is my third choreographic work.

Where did the idea of "30 Nuances de Noires" come from?

It came from my professional frustration as a black woman. When I was looking for a job after my studies, my graphic design work was very culturally influenced by my life in Martinique and Côte d'Ivoire. I was proud to show the aesthetics and the colors, to me it was beautiful but it wasn't seen as such, it was seen as something unworthy and my work was always devalued.

I also had to face that devaluation in my personal life. I wanted to partner up with a black man, but I could see that black men didn't value me, didn't give me space and in general chose to have solid relationships with white women. I am light-skinned so I used to pass black men's colorist filters, but this privilege stopped as soon as commitment was mentioned. I looked around me and saw a pattern in the way black men treated black women, in the way people in general treated black women, how we were looked down upon. I wanted to create something about that topic.

Photo by SEKA Photography

Why did you choose that name?

I chose that name to criticize the movie 50 shades of Grey, which from a feminist point of view is a sexist and misogynist movie, that glamorizes violence against women. Moreover, black women, in the global conception related to sexuality and sentiments, are continually eroticized in a very specific way: animalization, exotification and fetishization. I chose to reclaim these stigmas, just as Audre Lorde writes about in the chapter of her book Sister Outsider named "the use of eroticism, and the use of anger: the response of women to racism."

How did the people around you react to this project?

At first, I wanted to do a piece about sexuality, love and the neocolonial aspects of interracial unions but I faced a backlash from people in the cultural institutions and people in the hip hop industry. Whenever I talked about my project I was completely shut down and called a racist.

After all that rejection and denigration, I went back to university and studied gender studies for two years, and around the same time I became an Afro-feminist activist. In the meantime, the project evolved. I used to work at festivals where there were many brass brands and I already wanted to create a marching band with hip hop dancers so I just mixed the two ideas: highlighting black women's issues and creating a marching band.

After equipping myself with the relevant intellectual tools, surrounding myself with other black women and realizing we were all going through the same things, I was capable of demonstrating the systemic nature of what I was talking about and the barriers fell. I was finally in the right place at the right time. I found the artists very easily, the first musicians I met brought other musicians, the first dancers brought other dancers, it all happened very organically.

Photo by SEKA Photography

What type of women were you looking for?

I was looking for women who were strong enough to embody and address those issues unapologetically. They had to be capable of dancing on the streets with an attitude that says "I am standing up straight, I am black, I am glowing, I am shining and you will look at me and ask yourself how you really see me because I am not all those stereotypes you believe I am." Naturally, it first attracted feminists, women who were already aware of those issues. The women who later joined us and weren't aware of those issues are now more conscious and politicized.

What are the musical and aesthetic inspirations behind the project?

I really wanted visuals inspired by the aesthetics of the 70s and 80s because the dances present in the parade—locking and waacking—emerged at that time. For the musical aspect, I looked for songs that talked about black women and their issues: sorority, colorism, equality and resilience.

Photo by SEKA Photography

How do you see the project evolving in the future?

I want to do a world tour, I want us to dance with Beyoncé and Solange, I want to take this message of empowerment everywhere there are black women who need to exist, shine, go outside and assert their presence in the public space. Because of harassment, sexism and prejudice, it's still pretty complicated for women to simply exist. I consider myself lucky because I can see that the band does what I wanted it to do: it really empowers black women and seeing that happening gives me a lot of strength to take it further.

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Seyi Shay. Image provided by the artist.

Seyi Shay's 'Electric Package' EP Is All About Love & Positive Vibes

We talk to Seyi Shay about her new EP, an intimate mix of different afrobeats blends topped off by Gqom.

Talented Nigerian singer and songwriter Seyi Shay recently dropped her brand new music project, the Electric Package EP Vol. 1.

It's her first project in three years, since the release of her debut album, Seyi or Shay, in 2015. The EP, an intimate mix of different blends of afrobeats, contains six tracks, topped off at the end by the Gqom brand of South African house music.

The project features artists from different corners of Africa, including rising singer King Promise from Ghana, Afropop songstress Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania, and rapper and producer Anatii from South Africa, giving it a pan-African outlook.

However, she didn't forget her fellow Nigerian acts, as seasoned highlife singer Flavour, young Afropop superstar Kiss Daniel, and fresh act Slimcase are also on the bill.

Several DJs were also involved in the project, hosting different songs in mixtape fashion; DJ Spinall, DJ Consequence, DJ Neptune, and DJ Cuppy from Nigeria, Vision DJ from Ghana, and DJ Tira from South Africa. The songs were produced by Killertunes, DJ Coublon, Krizz Beat, Lush Beat, Anatii, and Chopstix.

We caught up with the singer to discuss Electric Package. Read our conversation below.

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Photo courtesy of Nike.

OkayAfrica & Nike Present: Naija Worldwide

We're linking up with Nike to celebrate Nike's fire Nigeria kits and to send Team Nigeria off to the 2018 World Cup with style.

Partner content from Nike

We've teamed up with Nike to bring the Naija spirit to the world with "Naija Worldwide," an epic bash to celebrate Nike's triumphant Nigeria kits as we send Team Nigeria off to the 2018 World Cup with style!

Join us on Saturday, June 2, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The Well in Brooklyn as we mark the occasion with music by DJ Tunez, DJ Moma and DJ Moniki. The vibe also includes art by Laolu Senbanjo, Nigerian cuisine, and a surprise performance by one of Afrobeats' finest.

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