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.

Audio
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

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.


Keep reading... Show less
News Brief

Peep Nasty C’s Picks in His Exclusive Shazam Playlist, a First for an African Artist

Apple Music launches the very first Shazam Exclusive Playlist for an African artist with Nasty C.

Nasty C's Shazam Exclusive Playlist is the first in which Apple Music features picks from an African artist. The South African lyricist joins artists such as Lizzo, Kesha, Anne-Marie and others who've all shared their selections on Apple Music.

Nasty C's playlists features songs by Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Young Thug, Drake and of course some of his own songs among others.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio
Darkovibes

The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Sarkodie, Cassper Nyovest, Elaine, Darkovibes, Stogie T, Phyno, C Natty, and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Photo courtesy of CNOA

These Colombian Civil Rights Activists Are Fighting to Make Sure Afro-Colombians are Counted in the Census

When 30 percent of Colombia's Black citizens disappeared from the data overnight, a group of Afro-Colombian activists demanded an explanation.

It was the end of 2019 when various Black organizations protested in front of the census bureau—The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (DANE)—in Bogotá, Colombia to show their dissatisfaction about what they called a "statistical genocide" of the black population. The census data, published that year, showed 2.9 million people, only 6 percent of the total population of the country, was counted as "Afro-Colombian," "Raizal," and "Palenquero"—the various terms identifying black Colombians.

For many years, Afro-Colombians have been considered the second largest ethno-racial group in the country. Regionally, Colombia has long been considered the country with the second highest number of Afro-descendants after Brazil, according to a civil society report.

Why did the population of Afro-Colombians drop so drastically?

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists protesting erasure of Afro-descendants in front of the census bureau.

Last year, a crowd of activists gathered in Bogota to protest what they saw as erasure of Black communities in the Colombian census.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

In the latest national census report from 2018/2019, there appeared to be a 30.8 percent reduction of the overall group of people that identified as Black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal, and Palenquero, as compared to the 2005. After this controversial report, an Afro-Colombian civil rights organization known as the National Conference of Afro Colombian Organizations (CNOA), officially urged DANE to explain the big undercounting of the black population.

This wasn't a small fight. Representatives who hold the special seats of Afro-Colombians in Colombia's congress asked the census bureau to attend a political control debate at the House of Representatives in November 2019 to deliver an accountability report. "The main goal of doing a political debate was to demand DANE to give us a strong reason about the mistaken data in the last census in regard to the Afro population," said Ariel Palacios, an activist and a member of CNOA.

At the debate, the state released an updated census data report saying that, almost 10 percent of the Colombian population—4.6 million people out of 50.3 million—considers themselves Afro-Colombians or other ethnicities (like Raizal, and Palenquero). But despite DANE trying to confirm the accuracy and reliability on the latest census report it was clear that, for a variety of reasons, Black people were missed by the census. The state argued that their main obstacles with data collection were related to the difficulties of the self-recognition question, as well as security reasons that didn't allow them to access certain regions. They also admitted to a lack of training, logistics and an overall lack of success in the way the data collectors conducted the census.

How could they have counted Black populations better?

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists playing drums in front of the census bureau.

Drummers performing during a protest against the Colombian census bureau's erasure of Afro-Colombians from the 2018 census.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

These arguments were not reasonable for the civil rights activists, partially because the state failed to properly partner with Afro-organizations like CNOA to conduct or facilitate extensive informational campaigns about the self-identification questions.

"CNOA has worked on self-recognition and visibility campaigns among the Afro community and this census ignored our work," says priest Emigdio Cuesta-Pino, the executive secretary of CNOA. Palacios also thinks that the majority of Afro-Colombians are aware of their identity "we self-identify because we know there is a public political debate and we know that there is a lack of investment on public policies."

That's why it is not enough to leave the statistical data to the official census bureau to ensure that Afro-Colombian communities are fully counted in the country. And the civil rights activists knows that. They made a big splash in the national media and achieved visibility in the international community.

Thanks to The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights organization, Palacios traveled to D.C to meet with Race and Equality institution and a Democratic Congressman. "We called for a meeting with representative Hank Johnson to talk about the implementation of Colombia's peace accords from an Afro-Colombian perspective but also to address the gross undercounts of its black population," says Palacios.

For the activists at CNOA, the statistical visibility of the Black population is one of their battles. They have fought for Afro population recognition for almost two decades. "Since the very beginning CNOA has worked on the census issue as one of our main commitments within the statistical visibility of the Afro-Colombian people," says priest Cuesta-Pina. Behind this civil organization are 270 local associations, who work for their rights and collective interests.

The activists want to raise awareness on identity. Because according to Palacios, "In Colombia, there is missing an identity debate—we don't know what we are. They [the census bureau] ask if we are black, or if we are Afro-Colombians. But what are the others being asked? If they are white, mestizo or indigenous?" Palacios believes that for "CNOA this debate is pending, and also it is relevant to know which is the character of this nation."

Afro-Colombian Populations and the Coronavirus

Afro-Colombian, Black, Raizal, and Palenquero civil-rights activists use mock coffins and statistics to protest erasure of Afro-descendants

Colombian civil-rights activist insist that undercounting Afro-descendants can have a real impact on the health of Afro-Colombian communities, especially during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

Photo courtesy of CNOA

Even though the state recently "agreed with to give us a detailed census report" and make a different projection with the micro data, says Palacios, now with the Covid-19 emergency, CNOA and the government has suspended all meetings with them, including cancelling a second congressional debate and the expert round table meeting to analyze the data.

Unfortunately, it is exactly in situations like the Covid-19 emergency where data analysis and an accurate census report would have been useful. According to the professor and PhD in Sociology Edgar Benítez from Center for Afro Diasporic Studies—CEAF, "Now it is required to provide a reliable and timely information on how the contagion pattern will spread in those predominantly Afro regions in the country and what is the institutional capacity in those places to face it," says Benítez.

He adds that this information is "critical at the moment because the institutional capacity is not up to provide it at the current situation". That's why the Center for Afro Diasporic Studies plans to work with DANE information from the last census. According to Benítez, "We are thinking of making comparisons at the municipal level with the information reported in the 2018 Quality of Life Survey, in order to have a robust and extensive database as possible on the demographic, economic and social conditions of the black, afro, Raizal and Palenquera population in Colombia."









get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.