The 20 Best South African Hip-Hop Songs of 2018 So Far

South African hip-hop songs we love so far in 2018.

We are halfway through the year, and South African hip-hop artists have already gifted us with tones of great tunes.

Below we pick 20 of those that fell on our radar and impressed us—from songs by newbies like The Big Hash, Kid Tini, J Molley, to established acts like AKA, Reason, Khuli Chana and Nadia Nakai, among others.

The list, which is in no particular order, contains only songs that were released in 2018. Songs from 2017 projects that were made singles this year don't count.

Solo ft Maggz "Top 5"

A song in which Solo raps about his love and respect for Maggz, hailing him as top 5 dead or alive. Maggz, in his verse, proves Solo's point. It's a song with heartfelt rhymes and a beat that uses bass and synths to evoke emotion.

Da L.E.S ft. A-Reece & TellaMan "Ballers Freestyle"

Da L.E.S and his collaborators made one of the happiest songs of 2018 on "Ballers Freestyle." The song boasts a catchy chorus and convincing verses from all there artists.

Dee Xclsv "Jiggy Shit"

From his EP Two Hours From G-Park, comes Dee Xclsv's "Jiggy Shit," a song that doesn't take itself too seriously, but still displays the rapper's ability to interpret an instrumental and turn into a coherent song.

Nasty C ft. A$AP Ferg "King"

"King" is a catchy single in which Nasty C affirms the throne is his, and with bars like the ones he spits on here, he has a solid argument. A$AP Ferg's verse is nothing special, but his flow is always impressive.

Ginger Trill "Money"

Your favorite rapper's favorite rapper is always mean with the pen. On "Money," his vicious verses collide with an equally menacing instrumental, and the joint is… well, money!

AKA ft. Stogie T "StarSigns"

On "StarSings," AKA drops facts about his longevity, how he paved the way for a lot of rappers poppin' at the moment, and his ability to reinvent himself and remain at the forefront. Stogie T does the same, paying homage to DJ Bionic, a fellow pioneer and business partner, and he takes jabs at Cassper Nyovest and Riky Rick, on some rap shit. So here for it.

Kid X ft. Shwi Nomntekhala & Makwa

Kid X refurbishes the maskandi duo Shwi Nomntekhala's mega hit "Ngafa" on what is one of the most refreshing joints of the year. The rapper's versatility allows him to flow over any kind of drum pattern, and on "Mntano Muntu," he sounds sharp over a slow but bouncy rhythm.

K.O. ft. Cassper Nyovest "Waya Waya"

"Waya Waya" is K.O. and Cassper Nyovest in their element—choosing a beat that blends kwaito and trap, allowing them to flow like the new age pantsulas they are. And can we talk about that Nyovest verse, though?

Read: K.O. Just Released A 2-Track EP Featuring AKA and Cassper Nyovest

Reason "Azania" ft. Swizz Beatz & S'bongile Khumalo

Lyrically "Azania" is intense, which is what we've grown to expect from the lyricist. Reason talks about poverty, unemployment and all ills, and how rappers choose to ignore all that. A fitting beat from Swizz Beatz with a lot of space for Reason's bars and S'bongile Khumalo's somber vocals.

Read: In Conversation with Reason on His Collaboration With Swizz Beatz & Sibongile Khumalo

J Molley "Seven Bottles"

J Molley's life done changed. He's the youngest in club, sipping seven bottles. "Holy shit, think I just took a picture with your bitch/ New money, who this?/ New money 5 digits," he sings on the hook. "Seven Bottles" proves that less is more—the artist is succinct in giving an update of his life, using auto-tune in his own unique way.

Kid Tini "Movie"

Kid Tini is one of the best rappers out right now. On "Movie," he handles his feud with A-Reece the best way he knows how; with raps. Just like any great diss track, "Movie" comes with countless quotables spat with a sneer and contempt for his opponent.

Read: Kid Tini Explains How His Beef With A-Reece Started: "I'm Competitive by Nature"

Big Star "Time Of My Life"

Big Star proves he can do more than just rap. On "Time Of My Life," he rap-croons over a jazz instrumental with 808 drums to give it a new school feel. "Time Of My Life" is a sophisticated soundtrack to the good times.

B3nchMarQ "Wifey"

Say what you want about B3nchMarQ, but one thing you can't fault them on, is making great songs that resonate and have massive replay value. "Wifey" is another of those, with melodies, raps and dynamic production that is rich in texture and doesn't bore.

Anatii "Thixo Onofefe"

Continuing the theme of spirituality, which was rife on his joint album with AKA, Be Careful What You Wish For, Anatii literally prays over bass squelches and screeching synthesizers. Aesthetically, the song is guaranteed to wake up some spirits inside you, with chants and screams that are drenched in reverb for effect. He speaks of people from the rural areas encouraging him to use muti, but he believes in prayer.

Khuli Chana "Maje"

Over a droning bass line, Khuli Chana flows without any evident effort—nothing new there—on "Maje," an unreleased song that was shelved years ago. Ig proves that Chana was, years ago, what your fave is still trying to be. And Khuli Chana and Beat Mochini make such a formidable rapper-producer combo.

Maphorisa x A-Reece "They Love Me"

A-Reece lays some lofty bars over a simple piano melody and bass squelches on his collaboration Maphorisa. Reece sounds comfortable over the beat he's given and bends his flow to fit its twists and turns.

Blaklez ft YoungstaCPT "Jungle Justice"

Blaklez lowkey does new age kwaito better than everyone. Think "Don't Be Scared" and "Saka Nyuka." His collaboration with YoungstaCPT is the latest addition to that list. Over a droning synth and mid tempo rhythm, the two MCs tell their stories and make it look so easy.

Maglera Doe Boy "Bodega"

Motswako hasn't given us a superstar since Cassper Nyovest blew up. Maglera Doe Boy, who's signed to Khuli Chana's imprint My Throne Records, is the latest motswako superstar prospect. On "Bodega," he owns the song with a natural confidence and a solid delivery.

The Big Hash "Dark Horse" (ft. Riky Rick)

Riky Rick joints the young rapper on his latest single, "Dark Horse." Just like most of The Big Hash's song, the bass and kicks thump hard while he devours the instrumental with high-precision flows and an unmatched conviction.

Read: You Need To Hear This 17-Year-Old South African Rapper

Nadia Nakai & Frank Casino "Money Calling"

Nadia Nakai and Frank Casino only answer when the money's calling. On "Money Calling," the two MCs ride a beat that leads with an eerie low-creeping pad. Nothing new is being said on "Money Calling," but it's still an addictive song that deserves a spot on your playlist.

Assessa "Izangoma"

Assessa's breath control is impeccable on "Izangoma." She goes on and on without pausing for air. She owns the beat and adjusts her flow accordingly to its rapid bends, and she also lays a catchy one-liner vocal hook.


Watch the First Episode of Flame’s Documentary Series ‘Welcome To My Life’

Flame takes fans behind the scenes in his new documentary series.

From interviews to smoking sessions, performances, studio sessions and a visit to the hair salon, Flame gives fans a glimpse into his life and adventures.

The South African hip-hop artist and producer shared the first episode of an ongoing documentary series titled Welcome To My Life. The first episode, which he shared today, shows Flame and his affiliates—the likes of Ecco, Mellow and others—going about their business.

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uSanele Releases a New Project ‘uMvelase’ Featuring ASAP Shembe, Windows 2000, Manelisi and Others

Listen to uSanele's new project 'uMvelase.'

South African hip-hop artist uSanele's recently released project is titled uMvelase. "This project," says the artist, "is in honor of my father and family, abakwa Mthembu; all my siblings, extended family and my roots in the heart of KZN, kwaNongoma. It is a calling—if you will—a completion of my journey and all things coming full circle."

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Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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