Audio

12 South African Artists to Look Out For In 2020

Featuring Sha Sha, Die Mondez, Focalistic, Indigo Stella, Lurah, Elaine and more.

South Africa's music scene is a gift that keeps giving. Every year, a crop of new artists emerges seemingly from nowhere. Just like all other years, 2020 is promising to be a great one for music in the country. Below, we highlight some artists who had a promising run in 2019 and could potentially fuck up the game this year.

Read ahead for our 12 South African Artists to Watch in 2020. This list is in no particular order.


Sha Sha

If you keep an ear to the streets, you've known Sha Sha for a few years now. The artist, who was born in Zimbabwe and spent a lot of time in South Africa, has been releasing music since around 2015 when she dropped the single "Miss Independent." In 2019, however, Sha Sha was impossible to miss. She was all over some of the biggest amapiano hits such as MFR Souls' "Love You Tonight" and Samthing Soweto's "Akulaleki." Her solo EP, Blossom, released in November, showcased more tricks up her sleeve. The project contains traces of amapiano, R&B, pop, soul and EDM. Sha Sha recently told Zkhiphani, "I make music. Don't box me in a certain genre, I make music." Currently signed to Blaqboy Music, a label headed by DJ Maphorisa (who she says she met through her cab driver), Sha Sha's star can only shine brighter in 2020.

Follow Sha Sha on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Die Mondez

Die Mondez and Zoocci Coke Dope have been close friends and have been making music together for years. Die Mondez appeared on Zoocci's 2017 EP Morning Star. Last year, the two released a joint project titled Die Dope. A gem of note, the project helped introduced Die Mondez to thousands of new fans. Die Mondez released his solo project Die Mondez Are Forever towards the end of 2019, and, take it from us, it's one of the best projects that came out last year. In 2020, Die Mondez can only grow bigger as a solo artist and further establish himself as one of the most talented lyricists of his generation.

Follow Die Mondez on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Focalistic

Focalistic was on a roll in 2019. From releasing a joint EP with Major League DJz to scoring collaborations with the likes of Emtee and Cassper Nyovest, he was impossible to ignore. The rapper from Pretoria prefers to spit over amapiano instrumentals and uses Pitori vernacular in his lyrics. His solo EP 18 Area was a node to his history as a soccer player both from the title and the references in his rhymes. Focalistic has proven himself a flexible artist who can rap and sing over different kinds of production. South African hip-hop hasn't had a breakout star in a minute, but with artists like Focalistic whose music ticks all the boxes of what makes a rap superstar in SA, things just might change in 2020.

Follow Focalistic on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Lurah

The streets of Cape Town have known about Lurah for a few years from the release of his EPs New Drug (2016) and Auto Truth (2017). In 2019, however, Lurah's name spread across the country after the drop of the EP New Drug 2 and a string of multiple music videos. Lurah earned cosigns from the likes of Stogie T and Priddy Ugly for his proficiency as a lyricist and his world-class music. Cape Town has long been underrepresented in the country's mainstream hip-hop scene, but with rappers like Lurah and his peers, we might be having a different conversation in 2020.

Follow Lurah on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Elaine

Pretoria R&B sensation Elaine worked with a team of up-and-coming producers in her life-changing EP Elements. Elements was one of the most talked about projects of 2019 in South Africa. "Elements is about love," Elaine told Hype in an interview last year. "All types of love. All the different elements and emotions that it comes with. I wanted to highlight the fact that love comes in all forms, and there's no formula to it. It's not all roses. It gets tough sometimes. And not all types of love are romantic. Love is universal." Apple Music highlighted Elaine as their favorite artist for the month of November after a groundbreaking year. R&B has never had its moment in South Africa, but with the resurgence the genre's going through across the globe, SA is not getting left behind. Elaine is the frontrunner of a budding R&B scene in South Africa, which will hopefully grow in 2020.

Ka$hCPT

Ka$hCPT is gradually becoming the poster boy for Cape Town's new wave of hip-hop. After years of refusing to conform to the mainstream, Cape Town, the birth place of hip-hop in SA, is finally coming around. It's rappers like Ka$hCPT and some of his peers who are ensuring the city has some form of representation countrywide by making music that resonates with the zeitgeist. Ka$hCPT appeared on Flame's debut album CandyMan on the strongest song on the project, "Late Nights." His sing-songy raps carry the whole song. Ka$hCPT is a mainstay in Cape Town's hip-hop scene, and is a regular performer at Nightshow, a show that's devoted to new age hip-hop. He performs at a lot of pop-up events in collaboration with brands such as Grade Africa and Ohk Ohk. In 2020, it's only natural that he expands to other regions like Joburg and Pretoria and become a national artist.

Follow Ka$hCPT on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Vigro Deep 

Amapiano keeps gifting the country with new and exciting producers. Vigro Deep is one of the subgenre's innovators with a boundless approach to production and song construction. His 2019 album Baby Boi III consisted of 18 songs, some of which were instrumentals and others vocal. The project was released through one of the country's longest running and most respected labels Kalawa Jazmee alongside Universal Music. Vigro Deep was born and raised in the Pretoria township Atteridgeville, one of the places cited as the birthplace of amapiano. He learned to produce in 2017 and released his debut album Baby Boy in 2018. The release of Baby Boi III came after a successful concert called Vigro Deep One Man Show whose lineup included the likes of Busiswa, A-Reece, Njelic and many others. He also appeared on two of the biggest amapiano albums of 2019, Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa's Scorpion Kings and JazziDisciples' Disciples of Piano.

Follow Vigro Deep on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Costa Titch

Costa Titch's breakout single "Nkalakatha" is an embellishment of late kwaito star Mandoza's mega hit of the same name, released in 2000. The viral hit's remix came with verses from SA hip-hop royalty on Riky Rick and AKA. Costa Titch is a trapper who doesn't mind exploring other sounds, as his catchy rhymes can sometimes be heard over gqom production. The rapper from Mpumalanga has a dance background and has collaborated with the likes of PatricKxxLee, Vegasxcesar, Boskasie and others, and is fast becoming a prominent name in the country's new wave of hip-hop artists. In 2020, he will highly likely build upon the momentum he already has from 2019.

Follow on Instagram and Facebook.

Willy Cardiac

"My sound is very loud and witty. If I was to explain how it feels I'd say it feels like a nosebleed. That's basically what it is. The difference is this one doesn't stop," Willy Cardiac told Red Bull Music last year in an interview. The rapper, who's still in his teens, makes trap music that inspires mosh pits, whether it's in small venues or festivals like Capsule and Cotton Fest. Willy Cardiac's songs have amassed hundreds of thousands of plays on SoundCloud, and skimming through his uploads, it's not hard to understand why. He's a convincing rapper with an ear for beats that accommodate his big personality and charismatic rhymes.

Follow Willy Cardiac on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Indigo Stella

Indigo Stella's a complete artist—in the unlikely event that her raps don't convince you, her melodies will win you over. Her 2019 10-track project Indigo showcased her abilities and her versatility in production choice. Currently signed to Mi-Stro Records, Indigo Stella is bubbling under and is just a few moves away from dominating the game. Hopefully it's in 2020.

Follow Indigo Stella on Twitter and Instagram.

Sun Xa Experiment 

Sun Xa Experiment is a South African group from Soweto. The septet describes themselves as a band that "caters a spiritual ancestral sound that tells of stories of who we are as the global community without race, color or nation." The band's music is characterized by spiritual vocals punctuated by ululation that exist in a psychedelic atmosphere of electric guitars and heavy percussion. Sun Xa Experiment has released an EP, and their debut album Umculo Umuthi is coming in March. The band recently headlined the festivals Endless Daze and Smoking Dragon. If you love bands such as BCUC who make music that will hypnotize you and speak to your spiritual side, then Sun Xa Experiment will be your faves this year.

Follow Sun Xa Experiment on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Laliboi

Laliboi, a member of the duo Radio123, released a rap album in 2019. The project, which is titled Siyangaphi, is exactly what you'd expect from a musician with a range as wide as Laliboi's. Siyangaphi contains traces of jazz, kwaito, rock and other genres. It's entertaining hearing him use different flows for different tempos and drum patterns. Songs from Siyangaphi may not work for mosh pits or appear on the country's top 40 charts, but the album is a compelling listen and a perfect gift for lovers of alternative music that's not bound by any form of limitations or concessions.

Follow Laliboi on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Interview
Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Screenshot from YouTube.

Elaine Finally Releases a Music Video for her Hit ‘You’re the One’

Watch South African R&B artist Elaine's music video for 'You're the One.'

South African R&B sensation Elaine recently shared visuals to her hit single "You're the One." In the song, Elaine is telling the love of her life she has made up her mind about him being "the one."

Keep reading... Show less
Interview
Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.