Best of the Decade: The Greatest South African Hip-Hop Songs of the 2010s

"Caracara" is easily the South African hip-hop song of the decade.

We asked several South African hip-hop heads, artists, writers and DJs to share their top five SA hip-hop songs of the decade. A majority of them included K.O's 2014 smash hit "Caracara," which features KiD X and is produced by the extremely talented Lunatik.


"Caracara" came out in 2014, a year that many will consider the greatest for hip-hop in the country. That year saw a majority of hip-hop artists and producers craft mega-hits by fusing hip-hop with kwaito, a trend that was by no means new. Artists like OkMalumKoolKat and Spoek Mathambo had been championing that style for years prior to it catching onto the mainstream.

Read: Hip-Hop & Kwaito's Long Love-Hate Relationship

At the height of "Caracara" and his classic debut album Skhanda Republic (2014), K.O told Red Bull Music Academy, "When we finally made the decision to use our own cultural influences to create what is now South African hip-hop identity, we found that was more appealing, not only to fellow South Africans but also beyond our own borders."

K.O (Feat. KiD X) - Caracara (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com


The general notion of why "Caracara" worked the way it did has always been how it was able to merge a quintessential South African genre (kwaito) with the incumbent sound in hip-hop, which was a mix of trap and the Bay Are sound that was popularized by DJ Mustard.

Prolific producer Speeka mentions that "Caracara," which made his list, "sort of reminded everyone in SA hip-hop where they are. It's South African to the core."

Slikour On Life staff writer Nokulunga Maqubela says that KiD X and K.O "literally gave birth to a whole new sound and era" with the song.

OkayAfrica contributor Mayuyuka Kaunda adds, "'Caracara' was birthed at a time South African hip-hop was desperate for a re-invention and poised to embrace its own authentic sound again. Alongside Kid X and riding over LunatikBeatz production, K.O was there to deliver skhanda rap, a kwaito-infused iteration of hip-hop steeped in local culture."

Khuli Chana-Tswa Daar Ft. Notshi www.youtube.com


The years 2014 through to 2016 dominate our subjects' choices, with songs like Cassper Nyovest's "Doc Shebeleza," AKA's "All Eyes On Me," and Emtee's "Roll Up," AKA's "Composure"—all of which were released in that period—appearing on most of the individual's lists. Khuli Chana and Notshi 2012 hit 's "Tswa Daar" is also one of the most popular entries on the lists.

Below are selections of the best South African hip-hop songs of the decade as handpicked by the likes of Stogie T, ByLwansta, DJ Vigilante, Helen Herimbi, Tseliso Monaheng, and a lot more trusted voices in SA hip-hop culture. And because music writers, artists and industry insiders aren't the only important voices, we also include some fans whose timelines are always littered with commentary centered on South African hip-hop.

Note that these lists are in no particular order. This article was inspired by a similar one ran by the BBC last month ranking the best hip-hop songs of all time.

Listen to our Best SA Hip-Hop Songs of the Decade playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

Spoken Priestess (writer, activist, deejay)

HHP "Bosso" (2011)

K.O "Caracara" (2014)

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

Emtee "Roll Up" (2015)

Nasty C "Juice Back" (2015)

These songs are part of those that cemented the arrival of hip-hop and, most importantly, signified a crossover appeal for hip-hop for the first time in SA after the foundations laid by the likes of Pro(Kid), Teargas, Morafe and the likes of Zuluboy.

Particularly where the younger generation is involved, we saw a surge in interest when Cassper Nyovest, Emtee and Nasty C dropped these songs. You would not go anywhere in the country—including being in the taxi or ekasi—without heating these songs. To date, even in African countries Emtee's "Roll Up" is still playing.

Rudzani Netshiheni (editor of HYPE)

Kwesta (ft. Wale) "Spirit" (2017)

This song is, according to me, the best collaboration between our own and the States. It was Wale jumping on Kwesta's song and not the other way around which the whole country felt.

AKA "Composure" (2015)

This song is the best representation of what a good solid beef can produce. It was three versus one here, and AKA held it down.

K.O (ft. Kid X) "Caracara" (2014)

This song made me and my friends flipping buy bucket hats just because how its energy/vibe swept the whole nation. It made the dust lifestyle so cool and made you appreciate Caracaras more, if that means anything.

Frank Casino "Whole Thing" (2016)

I first heard this song months before it became what it is today and it's just a perfect example of how sometimes the game sleeps on talent until it is given a chance. Frank's life changed through this song and is today still one hell of a hit record.

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

I just had to swallow my pride on this one and truly admit that Cassper Nyovest inspire millions of young kids with this song. No hip-hop critic can dismiss the impact that it has even today.

Tumi Molekane (aka Stogie T) (rapper)

When you say best, I wouldn't necessarily go with biggest, even though that has to factor in a song's importance.

AKA "Composure" (2015)

Best diss track in SA ever!

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) "Tswa Daar" (2012)

Simple raps on a beat, and charted. Made Khuli A-list.

Die Antwoord "Enter the Ninja" (2010)

The biggest African rap group in the world, this song launched them.

Emtee "We Up" (2016)

Easily my favorite hip hop song from a non-spitter.

Nasty C "Juice Back" (2015)

Illmatic moment, when you discover a once in a generational talent.

​Azizzar 'Pristine Queen' Mosupi (radio host)

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) "Tswa Daar" (2012)

Reason "Do It Like I Can" (2012)

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

AKA "Composure" (2015)

DJ Switch "Now or Never Remix" (2016)

​Helen Herimbi (writer)

Kwesta featuring Cassper Nyovest "Ngud" (2016)

Yugen Blakrok "House of Ravens" (2013)

AKA "Sim Dope" (2014)

Rouge "Underrated" (2017)

Nasty C (ft. Riky Rick) "A Star is Born" (2016)

Nokulunga Maqubela (writer)

K.O (ft. Kid X) "Caracara" (2014)

Just when we thought it was the end of Teargas and Cashtime Fam, K.O drops a smash hit. On it, he brings in Kid X (1/3 of Cashtime Fam) where they literally give birth to a whole new sound and era.

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

If we're to talk about impact, Doc Shebeleza sits on the top of the list. This is the song everybody knew. From your grandmother to the four-year-old kid, you saw what happened at the Global Citizen Festival when Cassper performed the track. Even brands started tapping into Hip-Hop to see what we're actually about, remember the DSTV ad with Doc Shebeleza as the soundtrack? Career wise, Cassper Nyovest was amplified by this very same song.

Kwesta "Ngud'" (ft. Cassper Nyovest) (2016)

Standard! "Ngud'" is a South African soundtrack.

AKA "All Eyes On Me" (ft. Burna Boy, Da L.e.s & JR) (2014)

A crossover track; South Africa and Nigeria in one song. Yes, it had been done before, but not to this level. Also, any best Hip-Hop song list for this decade without AKA is invalid.

Emtee "Roll Up" (2015)

Roll Up gave birth to South African trap music. One of the biggest breakouts into the music scene was from Emtee. The track further solidified him as the ambassador of trap.

​Siphiwe Zwane (writer)

Tumi (aka Stogie T) (ft. Reason & Ziyon) "In Defence of my Art" (2015)

This song is the epitome of supreme upper echelon rapping, exceptional geotagging with lyrics, immense pride in top tier lyricism and undoubted pride on being of African descent packed in a high energy production and inexplicably show that Stogie is a treasure to South African hip-hop.

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) "Tswa Daar" (2012)

This side of the era of the new poppy club raiding sound that has swept SA by storm in the past two decades, this is a reminder of where hip hop came from. The raw, unadulterated, chest out, murk anything that walks confidence hip hop is famed for was exhibited in full effect on a grimy as bare knuckles fighting beat by one the GOATs.

K.O "No Fear (Freestyle)" (2014)

"Caracara" is an obvious choice of game changer but this follow up was a stamp of surety that a new dawn has come. This showed that KO is not a one hit wonder and was unafraid to lead the game to a new direction.

Kwesta (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Ngud'" (2016)

The biggest hit in SA hip hop history. The song that crossed genres, infiltrated cultures and repped hip hop on territory reserved for other genres. The beauty of this record is in its simplicity. The almost lazy loop of the house sample in the best by DJ Maphorisa, the infamous sound like drunk speech slurring intro by Kwesta, "Yabona la ngizomosha kakhulu", the storytelling by Cassper; all place you slouched on to a camp chair during a summer outing with your friends while nursing favorite 750ml of choice in hand.

BETR Gang "Van Gogh" (2015)

Concept offerings are not easy. Planning, stretching, strategising and execution of a concept is not for the faint hearted. Details, no matter how minute, are scrutinized at the highest level of degree. One piece of the puzzle missing, it all goes to shambles. BETR Gang achieved impeccable perfection by carving and refining a lane and in " We Need a Title" presented an offering that not only is unique but its DNA can't be replicated for bulk production and instead, offers inspiration to aspiring to be themselves crowd.

​Mayuyuka Kaunda (writer)

Khuli Chana (ft. KayGizm and Fifi Cooper) "Mnatebawen (2012)

"Mnatebawen" flips the typical narrative of self-celebration in hip hop. Though a celebratory song - in hip hop's rags to riches tradition - it cleverly centered the listener for a change. This was Khuli Chana at the height of his success, embodying a relatability he's infused in his brand of Motswako. "Mnatebawen" is everything you want in a song with its catchy hook, infectious beat and uplifting message. This track felt like an event - it's timeless.

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

"Caracara" was birthed at a time South African hip hop was desperate for a re-invention - and poised to embrace its own authentic sound again. Alongside Kid X and riding over LunatikBeatz production K.O was there to deliver Skhanda Rap, a Kwaito-infused iteration of hip hop steeped in local culture. With references to famed iconography, a slick usage of slang and an alluring aura, "Cara Cara" remains a snapshot of South African Hip Hop's rejuvenation. This track and Skhanda Rap by extension are the epitome of impactful; representing the preservation of heritage.

Kanyi Mavi "Ingoma" (2012)

Taken off her aptly titled debut album Iintombi-Zifikile, the thought-provoking, multisyllabic masterpiece that is "Ingoma" displays Kanyi Mavi's sheer lyrical talent. Equally contributing to this dose of consciousness is the militant production provided by Mananz. Primarily employing isiXhosa in her music, Kanyi uses her lyrical dexterity to highlight societal issues and challenge our moral stances. Causing waves back in '12, "Ingoma" was a reminder of the oft overlooked hip hop talent in Cape Town.

AKA (ft. Burna Boy, Da L.E.S, JR) "All Eyes On Me" (2014)

"All Eyes On Me" has a timelessness that can't be denied - the sample is both nostalgic and progressive. Its fusion of house, bubblegum and hip hop was a masterstroke - as was the rest of AKA's multi-generic exploration on his album Levels. The track is as memorable as DA L.E.S' famous closing monologue and served the dual purpose of re-imagining a legendary South African song at that stage of the game. For all its sonic properties, "All Eyes On Me" proved the effectiveness of inter-regional collaboration with Burna Boy being introduced to a large majority of South African music fans.

Kwesta (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Ngud'" (2016)

Kwesta and Cassper Nyovest effortlessly capture the sound of a party in the township on "Ngud". Over DJ Maphorisa's interpolation of Antena's "Camino Del Sol (Joakim Remix)," the two rappers flow in reverie. A lot of tracks remind us of the perfect summer in the midst of the flutes, bone-tickling bassline and all the libation, this was the summer. Unadulterated fun, catchy lyrics and an amazing beat, 10/10.

​Tseliso Monaheng (writer)

KO (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

Kwesta (ft. Wale) "Spirit" (2017)

AKA (ft. K.O) "Run Jozi"

Cassper Nyovest (ft. Okmalumkoolkat) "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

This is when Cassper found and settled on a winning formula. He became unstoppable from this time onwards. Additionally, the placement of Okmalum's verse towards the end gave him just enough time to convince the listener that he's worthy of attention.

Khuli Chana "Tswa Daar" (2012)

He realized that he was at a point in his career when he could do just about anything. He could've done an R&B joint, and people would've eaten it up. He chose to go the grimy rap route instead, and came out the better for it. A bet gone right.

Honorary mentions

YoungstaCPT "Salutas" (2015)

Riky Rick "Sidlukotini" (2016)

Nasty C "Hell Naw" (2016)

Yanga Chief "Utatakho" (2018)

DJ Speedsta (ft. Yung Swiss, Tellaman, Shane Eagle, Frank Casino) "Mayo" (2016)

DJ Switch (ft. Reason) "Switch" (2013)

Sekese Rasephei (writer, emcee)

HHP (ft. Mo' Molemi) "Two Witnesses (Modidi le Morongwa)" (2009)

A song that would eventually be delivered as a eulogy at HHP's untimely passing, proving that hip-hop can transcend just being music. It captured the essence of a life lived in wonderment and a search for purpose.

Zubz ( ft. M.anifest) "Liberatum" (2013)

This song sees two Pan-African emcees collaborate, resulting in an earnest look at technology and how it alters the human experience, for better and/or for worse. Given the times we're in today, technology is in full grasp of our existence, this song is very important in illustrating the frustrations that come with that reality.

AKA "Composure" (2015)

Hip-hop has always been competitive. It has always been about expression. It has always been about having fun and showing how one's lyrical prowess is superior over anyone else. It's very rare to get a song that embodies all of these elements simultaneously. This song does that perfectly.

Cassper Nyovest "Refiloe" (2015)

Throughout his career, the jury's always out on whether Cassper is a competent lyricist. Is he really a rapper's rapper? With this song, he captures all of the necessary elements that prove he is a top tier lyricist. The cadence, the rhyme structure, the inflections, and intonations. He gets it all correct. The beat and the theme of the song, all perfect. Earnest, honest and self-introspecting. At his best.

A-Reece "Paradise" (2016)

There's no song that captures the newer and latest generation of SA hip-hop like this song does. From the thumping beat to the melodic raps that melt into a hook ever so effortlessly, A-Reece manages to paint the picture of every hopeful getting into the SA hip-hop industry, the supposed paradise that it is. The haunting beauty of the song is augmented by the trajectory A-Reece's career has eventually taken.

Honorable mentions

K.O "No Fear (Freestyle)" (2014)

Maraza "Black Skin (Pick and Pay the Price)" (2017)

Stogie T "Sway Freestyle" (2018)

​Mx Blouse (rapper, writer)

1. Kanyi Mavi "Ngqangqa" (2017)

2. Anatii "Thixonofefe" (2018)

3. Kwesta (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Ngud'" (2016)

4. YoungstaCPT "Takkies" (2016)

5. K.O ft. KiD X "Caracara" (2014)

I'm not one of those people who like accusing rappers of being American wannabes because of their accent, but I cannot help that I am particularly drawn to local rap that carries a flavor that is unmistakably South African, whether this be in terms of the use of language or in terms of beat production and/or delivery.

I think all my picks have that, combined with great storytelling, which I would say the case is with "Ngqangqa," "Thixonofefe" and "Takkies" in particular. On all five tracks I find production to be of a very high standard and, on delivery, the artists were really just not playing around.

Before "Ngqangqa" I had never heard anyone flip verses so dexterously in any of our languages. I say this fully aware that many have come before, doing it really well, I'm just saying I personally specifically appreciate Kanyi's delivery. Her cadence and flow on the song are quite simply sensational.

"Takkies" was my introduction to YoungstaCPT. It was at first jarring hearing someone rap so unapologetically in a Cape Coloured accent, but I think that's the reason it caught my attention.

​DJ Vigilante (deejay)

Emtee "Roll Up" (2015)

DJ Vigilante (ft. AKA and K.O) "God's Will" (2013)

DJ Speedsta (ft. Yung Swiss, Tellaman, Shane Eagle, Frank Casino) "Mayo" (2016)

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

Stogie T ft. Emtee & Yanga "By Any Means" (2016)

​ByLwansta (rapper)

CashTime Fam "Shut It Down (Stundee)" (2011)

I feel like the electrical charge SFX at the beginning of this song really sets you up for what I believe is one of the most electrifying and most dynamic SA Hip Hop songs of the decade, like, if the Avengers decided to get on some anti-hero shit, they'd change their name to Cashtime Fam, or well, Dark Avengers in the comics. This song too was a moment, an incredibly triumphant one. It's so fucking good, I forgive Smashis (Zingah) for that "pedophile flow" line. Also, Ma-E grootman'd the game the day this song dropped.

Nasty C "Strings And Bling" (2018)

Cassper Nyovest "Tsibip" (2014)

I think the fact that he's commonly referred to by this song's title, and not any of his songs with actual names in them (Doc Shebeleza or Tito Mboweni) says a lot about how sinisterly great this record was, and that raging synthesizer has a lot to do with it. But don't get me started on what happens at 2:35, he was right, I wasn't ready. This song's production and composition make me so happy.

AKA "Composure" (2015)

Outside of just being a really great song all 'round, COMPOSURE was such a special moment. I feel like dude found perfect balance with those autotuned raps over such pulsing and progressively minimal production. I was really happy to hear him rap with so much purpose and determination. That's my OG madoda.

AKA (feat. Khuli Chana) "Bang" (2011)

​Sihle Mthembu (writer)

Kwesta (feat. Wale) "Spirit" (2017)

A lot of hip-hop songs over the last decade have tried to sample or interpolate kwaito and ultimately most of them rely on the familiarity of an older song to carry them through. With Spirit Kwesta did something different, channeled the spirit (pun intended) of kwaito in an original song. His interpretation of township life in this free-form anthem is clear, affective and affectionate. To stick so much to his roots on a song with a big international act is no small task. Also the way Wale comes in and glides on this beat is pure butter.

Tumi and the Volume "Through my Sunroof" (2010)

The truly great songs make you feel like you've heard them before. This is what happened with this particular record. I'd made an event of listening to Pick a dream and the album was coasting along nicely when this number came on. A miniature film of interlocking dramas told in first and second person and lifted by a musicianship

AKA "Congratulate" (2014)

Solo "Kinda sorted" (2014)

Nasty C "Switched Up" (2016)

Honorable mention: Reason (ft. Tumi, Moneoa and L-Tido) "No sleep Remix" (2014)

DJ Ready D (deejay, emcee)

Remy E "Tanne innie lug" (2010)

The BeatBangaz (ft. YoungstaCPT) "Bo-Kaap" (2017)

Flow Motion "Kry Vir Jou" (2011)

Early B "Ben10" (2018)

YOMA "Wille Kat" (2018)

​Al Da 3rd (producer)

AKA (ft. Burna Boy, Da L.e.s and JR) "All Eyes on Me" (2014)

this was the first time most South Africans were introduced to Burna Boy, It had my favorite Da LES verse and it was one of the songs where the "Levels" concept of sampling old school house music came together nicely and it changed how local producers would now dig for samples.

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

Both Caracara and Ngud are songs that were competing against the biggest house songs at that moment. Which is rare in SA to have a hip hop song going against a house song for song of the year.

Cassper Nyovest (ft. OkMalumKoolKat) "Gusheshe" (2014)

Even though it was a slow burn. This song made us take both Cassper and OkMalums seriously as rappers. The video had the 'taxi driver' dance which became a signature move for Cassper even though it was OkMalums' move.

Kwesta (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Ngud'" (2016)

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) "Tswa Daar" (2012)

I think this was the first and only boom bap song to get this much AirPlay in SA. I've never heard a local boom bap song being played at a club with people losing their minds until this song.

​Kyeezi (radio host )

AKA (ft. Burna Boy, Da L.e.s and JR) "All Eyes on Me" / AKA (ft. Burna Boy and Khuli Chana) "Baddest (2015)

Nasty C "Hell Naw" (2016)

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

Kwesta (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Ngud'" (2016)

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

​Rashid Kay (rapper, activist, writer)

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

Kwesta (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Ngud'" (2016)

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

AKA (ft. Kiddominant) "Fela In Versace" (2018)

Emtee "Roll Up" (2016)

​The_Aards (South African editor/mediator at Genius)

Pro Kid "Makasana" (2012)

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

In the last decade, we saw rap music slowly integrate into South African radio playlists. And for the first time, streaming services became almost as important as radio airplay. This meant that rappers had to repackage their singles to satisfy pop radio and also feed into the new internet meme culture of virality. "Doc Shebeleza" easily checks the boxes as a song of the decade in this sense due to its upbeat nature and catchy, easily imitable hook. Cassper Nyovest on The Breakfast Club interview told the story of how he got to feature Talib Kweli on the remix:

"Talib Kweli came to South Africa and I was just supposed to be a tour guide and show him my country, and then we went to the hood and the kids saw me and lost they minds, I played him the song ("Doc Shebeleza") the kids were singing and then he jumped on the remix."

AKA (ft. K.O) "Run Jozi (Godly)"

Stogie T "By Any Means (feat. Emtee, Yanga)"

"By Any Means" perfectly illustrates the story of SA rap in the last decade. The last decade has been a period of a new crop and new styles in South African rap, a time when the usual suspects in the game faced the challenge to vary their skills, twist and turn on new terrain and face new competition. Stogie T does that impressively while still sparring a few braggadocious lines just to let the listener know who's the OG in the game: "They playing a role, I paved the road/ That lane you own is owed to me"

Tumi might have struggled a bit with the younger hip-hop generation, but not under his current moniker and refurbished image. The legendary emcee, sometimes referred to as a poet, demonstrates efforts to close the gap between the old and new generation. This song serves as an epitome of the OG's acknowledging, and in a sense, passing the baton to the new generation in South African rap. As Yanga puts it: "Stogies allowed in my room/ iVolume siyithatha ku Tumi"

DJ Capital (feat. Kwesta, Reason and KiD X) "Skebe Dep Dep"

​Sipho Fako (writer, rapper)

ProVerb (ft. Kabomo) "My Day Will Come" (2013)

The title of the song is self-explanatory and is one that should be uttered by anyone going through hardships. Proverb takes us through his journey and details how he overcame the challenges in his life. He expands on how he failed at many things but eventually excelled when he relentlessly followed his dreams and how we too, can do the same.

The musicality of the song backed with Kabomo's soothing vocals has an overall feel-good ambience and instantly inspires hope. This four-minute autobiography achieved its goal to "mobilize a movement of self-driven and highly motivated individuals who also believe that their day will come." Definitely, still a song to get you back to high spirits whenever you're feeling down or doubtful.

Ndlulamthi (ft. FiveSIx) "Andivoti" (2014)

Released in 2014, before the national elections, Ndlulamthi gave us this gem of a song that reflected voter apathy. The frustration of having political parties who over-promise(d) and under deliver(ed), was (and still is) evident, especially among the youth. Instead of taking the typical route of saying "F! this party" or "screw that party," Ndlulamthi dishes out valid points and exposes the flaws of the prominent political parties.

In a conversational, passive-aggressive tone, he details some of the promises made by the political parties and how they have failed to keep them. An example is how the ANC has sold us, while their soldiers are dying in shacks and the DA ruling in Khayelitsha but "uZille akapotapottie" (Zille doesn't use the porta potty toilets), yet the DA advocated for this. Even in 2019, the song still slaps as not much has changed, and it still highlights the harsh realities of ordinary voters.

Blaklez "Ooohhh Child" (2015)

In between all the turning up and flexing at the time, the Rap Steve Biko helped reignite social conscious rap with this single. What particularly set this tune apart from many others at the time, is its production. It instantly set the mood, while Blaklez poured his heart out, and followed with a hook that reassured the listener that though you f'd up, it's okay.

The verses show his vulnerability in various situations, like cheating and being broke after a night of heavy spending. Instead of playing victim or expecting sympathy, the song shows that we need to think and overcome our tribulations, as we all face them. If not in the hook, you can pick this up in lines like, "See, I can feel the judgment from my late grand mama, I'm childish, but I'm still a man, mama."

Driemanskap (ft. Kanyi and Macho) "Sphum' eGugs" (2010)

DJ Azhul & Early B "Lyn Kyk" (2018)

Madododwa Miya (fan)

AKA "Victory Lap" (2010)

This song sparked the beginning of an era in SA hip-hop. AKA was a breath of fresh air at the time and he was known for being a producer, one third of the trio IV League. The quality of the song has stood the test of time and AKA's cadence, flow and delivery on the song is something to treasure to this day. He was a newcomer at the time, but he was already saying he was on his victory lap, showcasing a confidence and ego we have seen grow bigger through the years. I still remember the first day I heard the song for the first time, and I was completely in awe. AKA received co-signs from the likes Tumi, HHP and Amu in the form of a remix, which was sort of passing the baton and also an unofficial remix from K.O.

K.O "Son of a Gun" (2014)

This song was dropped in what I regard as one of the best eras in SA hip-hop. Cashtime Life was running the game and this song was a follow-up single to what a lot of people consider a classic SA hip-hop song, "Caracara." However, I feel like K.O delivered more on "Son of a Gun." The way he rode the beat from the first bar and how street and dusty his persona sounded. The second verse of the song is one of the most complex K.O verses I've heard. There are plenty K.O verses that I thought were dope at the time they dropped but didn't age gracefully. "Son of a Gun" had a memorable dance and it interpolated a popular church hymn.

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) "Tswa Daar" (2012)

This song dropped at a time when Khuli was at the peak of his career, as a follow-up to some radio friendly singles that he release prior. The song showcased Khuli's impeccable flow on a simple boom bapy beat which he rode effortlessly. Non-Tswana speaking people rapped along to this song and it was the cause of many debates between fans about "who killed who?" which many say it's Notshi who was a relatively unknown newcomer at the time. Regardless of who you think killed it the most, there is definitely no doubt that we still going to celebrate and listen to this song years to come.

iFani "Iingoma Ezimnandi" (2013)

Ma-E "King Pin" (Rau Rau) (2015)

​Muzi Zwane (fan)

K.O "Askies I'm Sorry" (2014)

I personally think it's the most perfect song on Skhanda Republic; the slow place, production and lyrics, I loved it.

Duncan "Mi Thatha" (2014)

I first heard the song on YFM YTKO mix on a Thursday by DJ ZanD. I was in awe on first listen. I'm not sure if it was single or not, but it doesn't have a video. [The song] is the reason I fux with [Duncan's album] Street Government.

DJ Dimplez "Criminal" (2014)

Mean production, Anatii and Stogie T lacing that first verse, Buffalo with the beautiful chorus, and Reason with the shortest verse; I couldn't ask for more. Perfect.

BETR Gang "Van Gogh" (2015)

I was so excited to hear about the collaboration between Buks and Solo after [Solo's debut album] .Dreams.A.Plenty. I was keen to hear more of those mean lyrics, and I was never disappointed.

Stogie T "God's Eye" (2018)

"God's Eye" is perfect in every way.

​Nav Albers (artist manager)

Proverb (ft. Tebogo Moloto) "Writers Club" (2012)

• If not the best word play I've ever heard on a track.

• I enjoyed the content .

• Always a song & moment I'll remember for us. Inspired me at a young age to write.

• To a certain extent, even poetic.

Stogie T / Tumi "God's Eye" (2018)

• Lyrically excellent.

• Content also excellent.

• Just a masterpiece as a whole, in my opinion. For the real

rap heads.

A-Reece "Meanwhile In HoneyDew" (2017)

• Lyrically very impressive.

• Became a hit single of his

• Aggressive. Real rap stuff.

• Flows, pockets and Content all very impressive for me. Content I resonate with.

AKA "Composure" (2015)

• A moment in SA rap history. Very direct and aggressive.

• World play and pen quite good.

• Diss song yet can be played in the club. Became a hit.


Frank Casino "Pablo" (2016)

• Word play very dope.

• Content very raw and direct.

• Flows and pockets he chose were fun

• Lyrically very good too.

• I feel like it's a very slept on song, but the hip-hop heads should know.

​Kitso Moremi (podcast host)

KO (ft. KiD X) "Caracara"

This song was an SA hip-hop phenom. It was as though kwaito and hip-hop made a baby and that baby was raised on township culture. It also started the reign of "dust" in SA hip-hop and K.O with his Cash Time Life family run the game for a season.

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) Tswaar Daar" (2012)

Just a banger of a song. A boom bap texture and feel smothered with Tswana raps that reflect North West lingo. The combination worked excellently.

AKA "Sim Dope" (2014)

Just a dope song yo. Triumphant song at that. I just love it. That synth in the beginning and that sample of MXO.

Emtee "Roll Up" (2015)

This is the genesis of African trap in the mainstream's eyes. The language was undeniably South African, but the texture was so unapologetically trap.

Nasty C "Strings and Bling" (2018)

Such a well-written song that weirdly enough describes good and bad without judgement or preference. I love it.

Honorary mention: AKA "Congratulate" (2014)

A nice way to sell hip-hop to a dance loving nation.

Kabelo Moremi (aka Lil Frat) (podcast host)

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara" (2014)

It was at the peak of SA hip-hop, Cash Time was becoming a movement, and this song solidified them, also becoming the biggest song in the country at the time, which was rare for SA hip-hop.

Khuli Chana (ft. Notshi) "Tswaar Daar" (2012)

I mean dude made a boom bap banger. That's hard, but he pulled it off.

AKA (ft. Burna Boy, Da L.e.s and JR) "All Eyes on Me" (2014)

A perfect song with a futuristic nostalgia beat. The sample was gorgeous, the features complemented everything and it slaps harder than E-Honda.

Emtee "Roll Up" (2015)

This is the perfect African trap song, and it introduced the G.O.A.T to the mainstream.

Nasty C (ft. Rowlene) "SMA" (2018)

Basically, this is the best rap sung collab in SA until further notice. It's perfect and its love is enormous. Check any show of Nasty and this song makes everyone a member of Nasty's choir.

Honorable mention:

Riky Rick (ft. Okmalumkoolkat, Maggz, Gingerbread Man, Nadia Nakai, DJ Dimplez, Kwesta & KiD X) "Amantombazane Remix" (2014)

Riky represented every flavor of SA hip-hop on this song and everyone was on god level. A beautiful moment for SA hip-hop

​Mokgethwa (podcast host)

DJ Slique (ft. Kwesta, Flabba, Reason, Riky Rick & Nadia Nakai) "Do Like I Do Remix"

In an age where we don't get a lot of mega-remixes, DJ Slique gave us something that we all thought we'd never see after Riky's "Amantombazane" remix. This remix is a very important fixture from this decade, mainly because it was the biggest verse song Flabba was before his untimely passing and also just because it bangs.

Riky Rick (ft. Kwesta, KiD X, Ginger Trill, Nadia Nakai, OkMalumKoolKat & DJ Dimplez) "Amantombazane Remix" (2014)

This is best mega remix in SA hip-hop history. Even when having to debate who came out tops lyrically, there's no mention of anyone being below par. Everyone showed up on this song, this is how you give a song legs and longevity.

AKA "The World Is Yours" (2016)

'Who went plat' without a vernac record?, let's give him some damn credit' that's how you cement your run in the game. This is not just one of AKA's best songs ever, but one of the best we've heard in SA Hp Hop, it came at a time where his lyrical ability was being heavily questioned and he spazzed.

AKA "Composure" (2015)

Yeah, sure he's since went back and said composure is not a diss song, but we all knew what time it was when this dropped. Also, if you've never been at an event at waited for the 'Hey, hey, hey' with bated breath, you've missed out on an integral part of the past decade nightlife.

Cassper Nyovest "Doc Shebeleza" (2014)

Cassper played a huge role in this decade, I'm not even going to get into his accolades and achievements, but with this song SA Hip Hop almost got that New Years Eve midnight slot, very big tune.

Therson (fan)

AKA ft. K.O "Run Jozi" (2014)

K.O (ft. KiD X) "Caracara (2014)

Proverb (ft. Tebogo Moloto) "Writers Club" (2012)

Reason "Do It Like I Can" (both 2012)

Emtee "We Up" / Tumi (ft. Samthing Soweto) "Broke People" (both 2015)

The Virtuoso (fan)

A-Reece "Insecurities" (2013)

Riky Rick "Makaveli" (2015)

Shabzi Madallion "Real Life (freestyle)" (2015)

Tuks Senganga "Kganya" (2016)

Cassper Nyovest "I Hope You Bought It" (2014)

Listen to our Best SA Hip-Hop Songs of the Decade playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.


Audio
Samthing Soweto. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

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