Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

South African hip-hop producers, Nyambz (left)and Battlekat (right) A battle between Nyambz and Battlekat would be one for the books.

8 South African Hip-Hop Battles We’d Love to Watch

After Tweezy and Gemini Major's battle, we'd like to see these ones next.

Last week, Gemini Major and Tweezy, two of South African hip-hop's super producers hopped on the trend of the Instagram Live beat battle started by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, amidst the lockdown enforced to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much to the delight of fans and industry mates alike, Tweezy and Gemini Major showcased their best productions, with many realizing and marveling at the fact that they're the two foremost producers responsible for multiple hits in the South African hip-hop industry for the past 10 years.

South Africa's hip-hop scene has a wide range of producers who have shaped the sound of the country's scene over the years since the 90s and 2000s, to the current crop. Taking that into account, we bring you eight pairs of producers we would like to see go against each other in an IG Live beat battle.



​Nyambz vs. Battlekat

The SA hip-hop golden-age started around 2003 all through to 2006. During that period, Nyambz and Battlekat helmed and were involved with multiple projects which are today seen as staples in the SA hip-hop classics conversation. They produced releases for the likes ProVerb, Tumi, H2O, Zubz and Optical Illusion, so there's a wealth of incredible work from both camps. A beat-battle between them would knock the earth off its axis.

Anatii vs. Buks

Anatii and Buks are some of the most innovative and progressive producers in SA hip-hop. Buks as part of the trio IV League, crafted synth-heavy beats that appealed to both hip-hop fans and pop market. A teenage Anatii was at the forefront of the crunk wave in South Africa in the mid-2000s, crafting hits for the likes of L-Tido and Morale.

Whether it's sampling or making beats from scratch, both Anatii and Buks got it down to a science. They are still go-to-producers and between the two of them, they have hits with artists such as AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Reason, and Solo Ntsizwa Ka Mthimkhulu, just to mention a few. Other similarities between them is that they can both rap and have release hits of their own, especially Anatii.

Bongani Fassie vs. 37 MPH

This match-up is enticing because you have two music virtuosos who were immersed in music from an early age. Both producers have impressive catalogues, having worked with a wide array of artists and stars. Both Bongz and 37 MPH were responsible for some hits from the mid-2000s as their styles reference crunk, which South African hip-hop fans took time to warm up to. Across the two of them, they have crafted hits for Jozi, Da L.E.S, Maggz, JR and many others. This battle would highlight how far South African hip-hop has come in the mainstream scene.

IV League vs. Octave Couplet

IV League.

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

These two collectives are responsible for watershed moments in SA hip-hop. IV League revitalized PRO's career and helped re-introduce AKA as a solo act, while Octave Couplet ushered in a new sound with fresh production for acts such as The Glitz Gang, HHP, Zeus and aKhuli Chana. Would IV League's gritty, horn-infused, hard-hitting production eclipse Octave Couplet's soulful, sample-based production? Any victory would be a close call.

Instro vs pH

Instro and pH are veterans who both have impressive catalogues. They're both known for working closely behind the scenes with artists, mostly recording, producing and engineering whole albums for them. Instro has done a lot of work with Motif Records, whereas pH has had a heavy hand in Khuli Chana's catalogue. Both are very technical producers who are meticulous in their craft, and also have huge hits and classics that are major entries in the SA hip-hop story. They would make for an interesting battle.

​Dome vs. D'Mongs

Another pair that belongs in the pantheon of golden age greats is Dome and D'Mongs. Between them, they are responsible for production for Zuluboy, ProVerb, Miss Nthabi and MaWe2 among others. This would be a showcase of some of the best boom bap beats to ever come out of South Africa.

​Semitone vs. Thaso

Semitone and Thaso are both responsible for some of the biggest, culture-defining projects in SA hip-hop. The former handled most of the production on Skwatta Kamp's projects, while the latter is arguably responsible for architecting the entire sound of the motswako subgenre (HHP, Khuli Chana, Cassper Nyovest etc.), which involved meshing genres such as kwaito, jazz and house with hip-hop. Thaso also produced for kwaito artists such as Zola and Bravo. Semitone and Thaso are both legends who have an arsenal of potent hits, their battle would be a clash of the titans.

​Lunatik vs. Ruff

Both Lunatik and Ruff each produced era-defining hits for the 2010s, from K.O's "Caracara" to Emtee's "Roll Up." They are each responsible for crafting South African hip-hop sounds that became movements. Lunatik produced most songs that are considered skhanda for the likes of K.O., Ma-E and Kid X. Ruff has produced most ATM (African Trap Movement) songs for rappers such as Emtee, Sjava, Saudi and others. Having been resident producers for the labels Ambitiouz Entertainment and the now-defunct Cashtime Life (Lunatik), they each have gems to pick from, some of which fans weren't even aware they produced.

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