Music

The 11 Best South African Trap Producers

Here are 11 of the architects behind South Africa's current hip-hop sound.

South African hip-hop is at its peak right now. And, love it or hate it, trap is the most prevalent sub-genre.

That's clear when you look at how the recent South African hip-hop hits have mostly been trap ­–“Roll Up" by Emtee, Sidl'ukotini" by Riky Rick, “Way It Go" by DJ Switch, “Couldn't" by A-Reece, “Sim Dope" by AKA, “Hell Naw" by Nasty C, and countless others.

But what's trap without the producers?

Aren't they the ones who create those bass lines that make your face contort when they hit your eardrum? Who places those 808s in the right places?

Below, we list some of the most potent and consistent trap producers from South Africa, who are behind some of the aforementioned hits, and many others.


Tweezy

Only a few trap producers can touch Tweezy in his studio. AKA is one of the few new school rappers who have reservations against trap, but Tweezy gave him an offer he couldn't refuse on the songs “Sim Dope" and “Run Jozi," from the rapper's album Levels (2014). Tweezy has given us some of the most impressive new trap productions including Emtee's “Five-O," Riky Rick's “Sidl' Ukotini (co-produced by Gemini Major)," L-Tido's “Dlala Kayona," Stogie T's “Big Dreams," among a whole lot of others. His production style goes beyond trap as illustrated on more sophisticated beats he's made such as Stogie T's “Diamond Walk," AKA's “Baddest" and “All Eyez On Me." There are also great examples on his beat tapes.

Follow Tweezy on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Lunatik

Lunatik's claim to fame was producing K.O's game-changing hit “CaraCara," but the man's proven that he has more tricks up his sleeve. Alongside Ruff and Bizboy, he co-produced another genre-shifting hit, “Vura" by DJ City Lyts. A moment of silence for that bass line. His other impressive productions include “Winning" by Emtee and Nasty C, “Bekezela" by Kid Tini, “Pray for Me" by Emtee, “What U in it 4" by A-Reece, and a lot of others. He recently provided some of the most impressive beats on Emtee's latest album Manando, on the songs “Platinum," “My OG," and “Bambelela." There's something about the way this man tunes his bass lines. He also produced a good portion of Ma-E's stellar 2016 album Township Counsellor.


Ruff

There's no Emtee as we know him without Ruff. He produced the rapper's breakout single “Roll Up," and went on to produce most of the his debut album Avery, including the hit singles “We Up" and “Pearl Thusi." He's also the main producer on Manando. Alongside MarazA, Ruff is also the man behind Mashayabhuqe's monumental breakout EP The Black Excellence Show. He also produced most of Sjava's debut album Isina Muva. Ruff is definitely one of SA trap's most valuable players.

Follow Ruff on Twitter.


Mash Beatz

Mash Beatz's most prominent project to date is A-Reece's debut album Paradise. Mash produced a good portion of the album, including the single “Zimbali." His latest prominent productions are Da L.E.S's “Popular Demand" and A-Reece's “Meanwhile in Honeydew." While Mash Beatz's sound has a certain uniformity, it's also an anomaly in that he uses different sounds for almost all his beats–the only thing they have in common is his bass line and his frequent use of keys.

Follow MashBeatz on Twitter.


Wichi 1080

Probably the most innovative trap producer to come out of South Africa, Wichi 1080 has created his own sound. He works with an equally innovative rapper, Priddy Ugly, whose debut EP, You Don't Know Me Yet, he entirely produced. Wichi 1080's bass lines are ice-cold and hit your eardrum where other producers' don't. The producer also crafted the beats for trap soul artist KLY's EP KLYMAX, which also bangs hard. Other notable Wichi 1080 productions include “Sheba Ngwano" by Rouge, “7even Days" by Refi Sings, “On My Own" by Shane Eagle and Priddy Ugly's latest single “Tshela." Wichi 1080 is working on Priddy Ugly's upcoming album EGYPT, and we bet our souls it will be one of the best albums of 2017.

Follow Wichi 1080 on Twitter and Instagram.

Revisit our in-studio interview with Priddy Ugly and Wichi 1080.


Anatii

Anatii changed the game more than he's given credit for. Even though his production goes beyond trap, straddling pop and other styles you can't box, his trap beats are highly-impressive (“The Saga" by him and AKA is the prime example). At 14, when South African hip-hop still sneered upon mainstream sounding rap music, Anatii produced the smash hit “When It Rains" by L-Tido, ushering a new direction for South African hip-hop alongside producers, such as Bongani Fassie, who dared go against the status quo. Anatii produced most of DJ Dimplez' album Zeal (2014), including the hit single “We Ain't Leaving." He's also behind “Bad One" by Cassper Nyovest, "Ghetto" by Cassper Nyovest, DJ Drama and himself, and contributed production to his joint album with AKA, Be Careful What You Wish For. Put some respek on this man's name.

Follow Anatii on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Revisit our coverage of AKA and Anatii's joint album here.


Nasty C

Because of his skills on the mic, Nasty C is hardly given credit for his production. But the Durbanite produces a large amount of his music. He's behind some of his hits such as “Hell Naw," “Squad Goals," “A Star Is Born," “Friendzone," and “Phases," among others. He also produced the smash hit “Way It Go" by DJ Switch, in which he's featured alongside YoungstaCPT and Stogie T (then Tumi Molekane). He may not necessarily produce for other artists but himself, but leaving him out of this list would be a dis-service.

Follow Nasty C on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Hear Nasty C's South African Hip-Hop Playlist

Revisit: Nasty C Understands South African Hip-Hop Better Than Anyone


Zoocci Coke Dope

Zoocci Coke Dope is a silent killer. His first major production credit was Blaklez's hit single “Freedom or Fame." Recently, Zoocci has been the go-to-guy for beats and hooks, working with the likes of A-Reece, Big Star, Ex Global, DJ Speedsta, Chad Da Don, Stogie T, among others. His sound is minimal—his beats aren't unnecessarily busy, yet effective. That's how geniuses do it.

Follow Zoocci Coke Dope on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Revisit our interview with Zooci Coke Dope about his debut EP Morning Star here.


Cokayn Beats

Cokayn Beats is another silent killer. His recent high-profile production is “My Crown" by Emtee on Manando. Last year, he contributed some bangers to Stogie T's self-tiled album in the form of the hit single “By Any Means," as well as album cuts “Chairman of the Board," “Pray For Us" and “Clean Stuff." It's one thing to produce one song for Stogie T, who's known for being a perfectionist, but for him to allow you to produce a handful of songs on an album in which he's changing his sonic direction means you're definitely up to something. Cokayn also co-produced “Sidl' ukotini" by Ricky Rick, “Gawd Level" by Stilo Magolide and “Janga" by B3nchMarQ, among others, of course. Don't sleep.

Follow Cokay Beats on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Revisit our coverage of Stogie T's self-titled album here.


Gemini Major

Gemini Major is the true definition of a beast. He raps, sings and most of all, makes magic behind the boards. He produced Nasty C's breakout hit “Juice Back," which went on to feature Davido and Cassper Nyovest on the remix. The first time Khuli Chana was heard rapping on a trap beat was on the hit “Walking and Dabbing," which, as you guessed, was produced by Gemini Major. The man's hit-list is extensive – “Switched Up" by Nasty C, “Thixo" by L-Tido, “Tito Mboweni" by Cassper Nyovest, “NDA" by Nasty C, “Skelm" by Cassper Nyovest, “Day Off" by Stilo Magolide and Nasty C, and we've barely scratched the surface. Gemini Major also contributed to the compilation F2D Presents: Hall of Fame by him, Da L.E.S and Yanga. Major was briefly signed to Cassper Nyovest's label Family Tree, which he left to join Da L.E.S' Fresh 2 Def. He's currently not signed to either label, but all we know is we want more music from him.

Follow Gemini Major on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Sabelo Mkhabela is a hip-hop head and OkayAfrica's South Africa staff writer. He doesn't mind you telling him who he left out of this list on Twitter: @sabzamk

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Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their county had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years, under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive the musical Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs

The 'Stolen Moments" project began in 2010 in an effort to champion Namibia's unsung musical innovators. For the collection, Moongo and Assistant Curator, Siegrun Salmanian—along with a group of international scholars, artists, photographers and filmmakers—curated a large-scale photo exhibit that also features a 120-minute video projection, focusing on the dance styles of the era, along with listening stations, a sound installation that features "100-hours of interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses," and displays of record covers and memorabilia from the period between 1950-1980.

The musicians highlighted, produced work that spanned a number of genres—a marker of the country's vast and eclectic underground scene. Artists like the saxophonist Leyden Naftali who led a band inspired by the sounds of ragtime, and the psychedelic rock and funk of the Ugly Creatures are explored through the exhibition, which also centers bands and artists such as The Dead Wood, The Rocking Kwela Boys, Children of Pluto and more.

"There are many reasons why you've never heard this music before," Moongo continues. "It was censored, suppressed, prohibited and made almost impossible to listen to. Its creators are either long gone or have given up on music making, by reasons of adversity, death and despair. And yet this beautiful music exists with a liveliness, as if it had never stopped playing. It is still in the minds of the few who can remember, with the ones who played it, and on those rare recordings that have survived in archives and record collections scattered around the globe. Allow me to share these stolen moments with you."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs


Photo (c) John Liebenberg

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"Stolen Moments" is now showing at the Brunei Gallery in London and runs through Sept 21.

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Foul Language and Depictions of Rape Spur a Book Recall Campaign in Kenya

Kenya's Top Book seller pulls a South African book for youth due to foul language.

A main book supplier in Kenya, Text Book Centre, has announced that they would not stock a book due to its "vulgar and foul language." The book, Blood Ties, was written by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli. The banning comes just after a video went viral in Kenya of a school child having a verbal outburst peppered with strong language. As reported by BBC, the removal was sparked by parents showing outrage after excerpts from the book were shared on twitter. These excerpts contained use of the f-word as well as a description of a rape scene.

As per their statement, the Text Book Centre claims they believe in "upholding high moral standards and raising generations of responsible citizens who are not only educated but ethical." The Kenyan publisher, StoryMoja, has defended the book in a statement of their own. They argue that the book is part of a new series showcasing books that deal with "contemporary societal issues" and that this particular book is a fictional story that grapples with the negative repercussions of peer pressure. "In actual fact, the book guides readers on the steps to take should they find themselves in a similar situation and underscores the sensitivity with which victims of sexual abuse should be treated." The statement also highlights the fact that the publishers had listed Blood Ties for readers in high school or above.


The discrepancy is that some schools have recommended the book as a reader – meaning for younger children aged 12 or 13 – though it has not been approved by the Kenyan Institute of Curricular Development (KICD), the entity in charge of managing texts used in schools. In a tweet, the KICD claimed that the book was not approved and that some teachers may be recommending texts without ensuring they were endorsed by the KICD. The dispute is sparking debate as to what should be taught in Kenyan schools.

As of late this morning, StoryMoja is in the process of recalling all copies of the book from stores and schools across Kenya. In a tweet they claim that it is because they have determined the language used in the book is the issue and not the subject matter.

Censorship is always a contested topic, just last month we reported on Nigerian authorities censoring a music video for "threatening security." Also, Kenya's censorship tactics have been in the global eye since a refusal to screen the film Rafiki for its homosexual heroines despite being lauded at international film festivals.

Here are some reactions from Kenyans on Twitter:





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mage courtesy of TIFF

Senegalese Filmmaker Mati Diop Tells a Haunted Story of Migration

We caught up with the celebrated director at the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about her new film, Atlantics

It's been a good year for French-Senegalese director Mati Diop and her film Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story.

The movie got its North American premier at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this month after wowing critics and audiences at Cannes, where it won the prestigious Grand Prix. Diop was the first Black woman to successfully submit a film in the Cannes competition, and naturally the first to win any award at the iconic festival.

In Toronto, the Paris-born director was also honored with the inaugural Mary Pickford Award for Outstanding Female Talent, presented at the TIFF Tribute Gala on September 9. The award is named after Mary Pickford, a Toronto native who went on to conquer Hollywood in the early days of the industry as an actor and producer. Co-founder of United Artists, she was the highest paid woman in Hollywood in her day.

Mati Diop, actor and director, was born in Paris into a prominent Senegalese family, the daughter of noted musician Wasis Diop, and niece of well known filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty. As a director, she has several short films under her belt, including Atlantiques in 2009. Her short films Big in Vietnam and A Thousand Suns screened at TIFF in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story is Diop's first feature, which she directed as well as co-writing the screenplay with Olivier Demangel.

It's in the story of the first Atlantiques – the short – that the new film came to be. "The two films are both connected and not connected," Diop tells OkayAfrica. The short Atlantiques was self produced, and shot on video on a shoestring budget, she explains. Diop was moved by the constant stream of reports, between 2000 and 2010, of young Senegalese taking to small wooden boats and braving the ocean waters in a bid to reach Spain and better opportunities. As she notes, the media tended to treat the phenomenon as largely an abstract issue, one that had to do with economic forces. Diop wanted to tell the story of the real people in that situation.

"I felt that my cinema should be put at the service of their voices," she says. "I wanted to understand." It's part of what motivated Diop to get into film in the first place. While the short was shot documentary-style, she worked the story as fiction. The actor featured in the short had actually made an Atlantic crossing, but was subsequently turned back by Spanish authorities. The way he spoke about the experience connected with Diop; in particular, his determination to try the perilous journey once more. "I am here, but not here," he told her. "Serigne felt it was here [in Senegal] he would lose his life," Diop says. She wanted to understand what drove so many young men to risk their lives. "He felt that his life was vulnerable in Senegal." The actor's words took on even more resonance when he died, while still in Senegal, before he could try again. Diop says he had gone to a hospital after falling ill, but the staff were on strike. After his death, it left her with mixed feelings. "I wondered if I had the right to continue."

TIFF Tribute Gala Mati Diop | TIFF 2019 www.youtube.com

Diop was left with the poignant memory, and a haunting impression. "When you leave, it means you are already dead," she says. After filming the short, she attended Serigne's funeral, and filmed his mother and sister—the women left behind who would become the focus of the feature film treatment. Diop says that the character of Ada, the protagonist of the new movie, is based in large part on the sister, who, in the short film, does not speak any lines.

In Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story, Ada is 17 years old, in love with Souleiman, but her parents have already arranged a very practical marriage with another—and much wealthier—man. On the eve of her wedding, odd things begin to happen, and Ada learn that Souleiman and his friends have left Dakar in a boat, hoping to reach Spain. Ada and her BFFs anxiously await any word from them, as the mysterious happenings keep piling up.

"The beauty of women comes through marriage," a cleric tells one mother. Ada's story embodies the life of a young West African woman—torn between traditional forces in both her family and society, and the friends who wear Western dress and don't bother with the old ways. The wealthy family she has married into owns a large construction company, the one that didn't pay its workers for months, leading the young workers to try their luck in Spain. She loves Souleiman, but she also needs to find her own path.

Mama Sané plays Ada, the solid heart of the film, as a tangle of emotions and repressed desires. She veers from defiant when dealing with the police detective sent to investigate the strange occurrences, to a wordless expression of longing with the kind of intensity only a teenager can muster.

Diop's directorial vision turns Dakar into a place of both surreal magic and harsh reality. The film immerses the audience in the city's sounds, from the goats bleating outside a window while Ada and her friends talk, to voices in the next room, with the eternal heaving of waves against the shore as a recurring refrain. The original music by Fatima Al Qadiri adds to the effect.

Cinematographer Claire Mathon has shot the film with a poetic eye. There are many images of the shifting surface of the sea, with the open sky and sun above it, each different from the last. The streets of Dakar at night take on an otherworldly edge, framed in palm trees against the artificial lights. The building the young men have been working on is futuristic in design, all glass and steel, and the company owner's neutral modern mansion contrasts with the broken rubble on the streets, from slick sports cars to horse drawn carts. It adds to the sense of the surreal.

Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story was acquired by Netflix after Cannes, and is intended for worldwide release by the streaming service, (with the exception of China, Russia, Benelux, Switzerland, and France.) As part of its new policy, Netflix, which became an official member of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America,) earlier this year, will be giving the flick a "theater-first" release, opening in selected theaters on November 15, with streaming available from November 29 in North America.

The film also stars Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou, Amina Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene. Dialog in the France-Senegal-Belgium co-production is in Wolof with subtitles.

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(Photo by Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images )

Exiled Tunisian President Ben Ali Has Died

The former president had been living in Saudi exile since 2011.

Tunisia's former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, 83, has been declared dead while in exile in Saudi Arabia. Ben Ali became interim Prime Minister in 1987. He ran unopposed and was elected Prime Minister in 1998 and served for 23 years – from 1988 to 2011. He was known for using autocratic techniques, eradicating presidential term limits and altering age caps in order to stay in power. In the beginning, Ben Ali was considered a "people's head of state" and garnered the nickname "Benavie" which loosely translates to "Ben Ali for life." By the 2000s, however, he had become deeply unpopular and prompted protests and unrest against his oppressive rule.

His reign ended when he fled Tunisia on January 14, 2011 amid protests that ultimately led to a string of revolutions dubbed the Arab Spring. He had been living in exile in Saudi Arabia ever since. As France 24 reports, in 2018 Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia by Tunisian courts to "more than 200 years in prison on charges including murder, corruption and torture."

Though there is no cause of death just yet, Ben Ali had been in intensive hospital care for lung cancer for three months. According to Al Jazeera, lawyer Mounir Ben Salha announced Ben Ali's death to news agencies via phone and the claim was confirmed by Tunisia's foreign minister.

There is footage of a Tunisian lawyer taking to the street at dawn celebrating the news of Ben Ali's death.


This past Sunday, Tunisia held free elections advancing Kas Saied and Nabil Karoui (who is currently jailed) as presidential candidates with neither receiving a majority vote. A run-off election between the two will be held September 29.

Tunisians and others are sharing their reactions to the news across social media. Here are some reactions:





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