The Cape Town rapper Youngsta (or YoungstaCPT) is one of the most prolific emcees in South Africa. Earlier this month he released his 26th mixtape, The Cape And Good Dope, which is produced entirely by the trio Ganja Beatz. The man has collaborated with the likes of Tumi Molekane, DJ Ready D, DJ Switch, Stilo Magolide, Arsenic and a whole lot more.
He’s achieved a lot. And he’s only just turned 25. Below are the ten best songs out of Youngsta’s already enormous discography.
Tumi, Youngsta and Reason “What Have You Done My Brother?” (2012)
Four years ago, Youngsta was already that dude in Cape Town. Tumi and Reason noticed his work ethic and talent, and jumped over this analog bass-heavy beat by Instro with him. All three dudes brought their A-game, and it was a proud moment for Cape Town to see their own rapping alongside two of the country’s best lyricists and matching the standard. “What Have You Done, My Brother” is heartfelt but not whiney—with Youngsta and Reason expressing their plights and triumphs in the music industry.
“Top Ten List” (2015)
“Cape Town got emcees, why you act like we don’t have any?” asked Youngsta rhetorically on the vicious “Top Ten List.” He released the song last year after the infamous MTV Base Hottest MCs List. “Fuck a Top 10 list, my numbers is 0-2-1,” he sings in the hook (“021” is the Cape Town area code). Youngsta’s response to the list was more a matter of show than tell, as he rapped better than many of the emcees on that list. If only it was just about bars, he would be on the top five no doubt.
“Flowing Through My DNA” (2013)
DNA was a duo consisting of Youngsta and the Cape Town hip-hop producer Arsenic. “Flowing Through My DNA” was a single to their album Deurie Naai Alliance. The song, just like the album, was unapologetically boom bap. Arsenic’s kicks are good for your soul, but might wreck your eardrums. Youngsta with his authoritative delivery owned the beat with the slickest wordplay you can hear on wax.
“Sleep Is For The Rich” (2016)
The bassline buzzes atop ominous pads drenched in reverb creating a raw backdrop for Youngsta to lace it with some bars for the hustlers. “Sleep Is For The Rich” is a fitting song from a rapper like Youngsta who clearly doesn’t sleep much. Stilo Magolide also delivers a stellar verse switching flows like it’s no thing. “Sleep Is For The Rich” is street-centric from feel to the video, which was shot mostly in the Cape Flats with cameos from the community.
From Loopsta, the same guy who produced “Sleep Is For The Rich,” came another dark trap beat. On “Takkies,” Youngsta talks about how sneaker culture in the hoods of Cape Town goes beyond the glitz and glamor. He expresses his love for sneakers, and also adds how you can get killed for your fresh kicks. On this track Youngsta is exercising his storytelling skills and his ability to stay on concept while still managing to deliver well-structured rhymes. Easier said than done.
“Bump The Cheese Up” Kaapstad Remix (2015)
Last year Youngsta released his version of Reason’s hit “Bump The Cheese Up.” It’s another one replete with slang that’s likely to fly over your head. But the flows should keep you captivated. His rhyme pattern and delivery on the second verse is what makes it one of the best verses the man has ever rapped. Rap remixes don’t always work, as they either try hard to be original and fail or just sound odd because your ear is used to the original. Youngsta, however, owned this Hopemasta instrumental like it was originally made for him.
DJ Hamma “Special Request” feat. Youngsta & Jitsvinger (2013)
Youngsta and Jitsvinger ride this breezy piece of music by DJ Hamma with some smooth flows. “Special Request” is one of those chilled summer party jams. Jits and Youngsta made it an actual collaboration by going back and forth on some verses, completing the song’s lovely feel.
DJ Switch feat. Youngsta “Dope” (2014)
“I dropped my first mixtape during the World Cup/ So while you and Shakira was doing the waka waka/ I was packing thugs in front of a CaraCara,” raps Youngsta over subtle bassline, 808s and a selection of lightly reverbed pads by Ganja Beatz. On “Dope,” Youngsta ticks all the boxes—the verses are proper and the hook is catchy without being corny.
“Break The Radio” (2013)
Youngsta was starting to feel the pinch of being overlooked by mainstream radio. DJ Hamma sped up the Three Dog Night 1975 classic and added a healthy bassline and some keys. Youngsta was lamenting but he didn’t sound needy. His delivery has always been rock solid. “Break The Radio” is a perfect marriage of lyrics and a beat—he conceptualized around the sample.
Youngsta & Maloon TheBoom “Music 1st” (2015)
The rapper is versatile. If you caught on in the past two years, you might be familiar with him rapping on trap beats. But he can ride boom bap like he’s in New York in the 90s. On “Music 1st,” a collaboration between him and the Swiss producer Maloon TheBoom, Youngsta talks about more than his love for music, particularly rap. He talks briefly about the mishaps of the ruling party: “Middle finger to government ‘cause they hate me/ So much kak going on here that they ain’t see/ ANC did a lot but they also broke laws/ So Y? Gen is the party that I will vote for.” The song is one verse long, but it’s still one of the best he’s ever put out.
Sabelo Mkhabela is a writer from Swaziland, currently based in Cape Town. He also drops award-winning tweets as @SabzaMK.