The Best South African Songs of 2022
Featuring K.O, AKA x Nasty C, Nomfundo Moh, Samthing Soweto and many more.
South African music had a remarkable year in 2022. As the world fully opened, after a devastating two years of restrictions due to COVID-19, the biggest artists also shared music they had been working on with the promise of pushing it through performances and extensive marketing strategies. Esteemed rappers like K.O and AKA scored chart-topping singles, last year’s breakout stars (Blxckie and Nomfundo Moh) maintained their streaks, and new acts emerged with their songs (“All In You” and “Crazy Vibes”) helping establish them in the mainstream.
Check out our picks for The Best South Africa Songs of 2022 below.
K.O "SETE" ft. Young Stunna and Blxckie
Veteran rapper K.O linked up with Young Stunna and Blxckie for his single "SETE," taken off his album SR3. The mellow afrobeats-tinged joint, co-produced by Nigerian producer Calliemajik Beats, sees the artists dovetail a love story. Since its release, the track has achieved significant milestones and become one of the best-performing tracks in the country this year. Sixteen years into his career, K.O is still at the top of his game and his latest album SR3 is proof.
AKA & Nasty C "Lemons (Lemonade)"
After a few underwhelming singles, rapper AKA returned to the scene with “Lemons (Lemonade).” On the track, the artist sticks to his usual groovy, dance music sampling proven formula, with the addition of a light-hearted, show-stealing verse from Nasty C. The song served as the lead single to AKA’s forthcoming album Mass Country, slated to drop next year. There are hints of nostalgia in the Nate Thomas-directed music video, which references the iconic dance competition show, Jika Majika.
Inkabi Nation "Voicemail"
Big Zulu and artists signed to his label Inkabi Records treated their fans to an afropop posse-cut titled “Voicemail.” The collaboration, which features Mduduzi Ncube, Lwah Ndlunkulu, Siya Ntuli, and Xowla, is the first time all the artists are on a song together. They sing about an estranged lover who is no longer picking up calls. “Voicemail” became the first official single from the label’s self-titled 12-track compilation.
Nomfundo Moh "Soft Life"
Fast-rising singer/songwriter Nomfundo Moh put out “Soft Life” as a single off her exceptional debut album Amagama. The music video brings to life the song’s message of coming from humble beginnings and working towards a comfortable, better life. The musician graduated from university and the manifestation-fueled song played as she walked across the stage, a well-deserved full circle for the musician whose career began shaping while at university—where she also met her producer, Naxion Cross.
Blaq Diamond "Qoma" ft. Big Zulu and Siya Ntuli
For their second single since leaving Ambitiouz Entertainment, Blaq Diamond linked up with Big Zulu and Siya Ntuli. The romantic ballad sees the artist pleading with their love interests to accept their proposal. On “Qoma” the talented duo returns to their maskandi-tinged Afropop roots after releasing the drill-leaning “Ilanga.” The song’s music video includes scenes shot at the infamous KwaMaiMai market and Enkomeni taxi rank, as a way of paying homage to the duo’s Zulu heritage.
MashBeatz "Never Ride" feat. Thato Saul & Maglera Doe Boy
Acclaimed hip-hop producer/DJ MashBeatz recruited lyricist Thato Saul for his bonafide hit single “Never Ride”—following their 2021 collaborative project, If You Know, You Know. The strings-laden track also features a highly impressive stellar verse from Maglera Doe Boy, which many have crowned as the ‘verse of the year.’ The song is undisputedly one of the best South African hip-hop releases of 2022, and like culture would have, it spawned a star-studded remix with guest verses from a host of wordsmiths like Sjava, Lucasraps, 25K, YoungstaCPT, Buzzi Lee, Wordz, and more.
Samthing Soweto "Amagents"
Talented singer/songwriter Samthing Soweto returned to the scene with “Amagents,” his first single in almost two years. On the hook of the heartfelt song, Samthing expresses sincerely that all men are the same and warns his daughter about them. “I wrote this song as an ode to being a father to a daughter in South Africa,” he said. After sharing the song, the musician went on a nationwide tour and reunited with his former group The Soil.
Q Twins "Alusafani" ft. Xowla,Mduduzi Ncube & Big Zulu
Idols SA alum and Afrotainment signees, Q Twins enlisted Inkabi Records’ Xowla, Mduduzi Ncube, and Big Zulu for their soured romance ballad “Alusafani.” The song’s wedding-themed music video, directed by Slowman, sees one of the twins reminiscing about the good times she used to have with her partner, bringing the song’s messaging into visual form. Xowla’s (aka Stallion) performance on “Alusafani” stands out as he provided the infectious hook and is responsible for the multi-layered production.
Wanitwa Mos, Master KG & Lowsheen "Sofa Silahlane" ft. Nkosazana Daughter
Following the astounding success of their track “Dali Nguwe,” Master KG, via his imprint Wanitwa Mos, tapped songstress Nkosazana Daughter again for “Sofa Silahlane.” Nkosazana’s rich velvety vocals carry the song, which employs Wanitwa Mos’ signature sound of honeyed progressions and poly-rhythmic beats. The Wanitwa Mos camp and Nkosazana Daughter have continued to work together for the most part of the year and their chemistry oozes through in each track.
Aubrey Qwana & Blaq Diamond 'Fireworks'
Aubrey Qwana teamed with longtime friends and collaborator Blaq Diamond on “Fireworks.” While Ndu (one-half of Blaq Diamond) has produced hits for Aubrey Qwana, this fiery collab becomes the first time the three afropop superstars have all joined forces on a song. For the past few years, the two acts have been the new vanguard of afropop in the country, blending the sound with influences from isicathamiya and maskandi.
Lwah Ndlunkulu "Ithuba"ft. Siya Ntuli
On the reflective Afropop thumper “Ithuba,” Lwah Ndlunkulu and Siya Ntuli show gratitude for the opportunities they’ve been granted in their respective lives. The two artists are thankful to the Lord and their ancestors for keeping them alive and well, despite the turbulences that come along the journey of life. The song was a perfect addition to the ascending streak that Inkabi Records has been on this year.
Intaba Yase Dubai "Nguye" ft. Malome Vector & Wave Rhyder
Before the controversy about him not receiving royalties from his feature on the smash hit “Mali Eningi” ensued, Intaba Yase Dubai gifted his fans with a new single “Nguye.” The song, as narrated by Dubai, Malome Vector, and Wave Rhyder, chronicles a story about a former romantic partner who didn’t appreciate the love given to them. This year, the talented musician released his first full body of work, under Ambitiouz Entertainment, titled Amagama—which he went on to denounce as his relationship with the controversial label went on.
Venom x Shishiliza "Sondela" ft. Yumbs, Raspy, Blxckie, Riky Rick & Tshego
In February, Venom and Shishiliza unleashed the follow-up to their star-studded debut “Sho Boy.” Their second single, “Sondela,” is yet another fiery collaboration from the duo and a love song that dropped just in time for Valentine's Day. The Yumbs-produced track features mesmerizing vocals from Blxckie, Raspy, Tshego, and the late rap icon and visionary Riky Rick. A crowd favorite, the song achieved platinum-selling status within a few months of release, and following the song’s success, the duo went on to release a full LP, Love Is Pain.
After being on hip-hop’s totem pole for most of 2021, breakout star Blxckie showed no signs of slowing down this year. In February, the versatile artist released a 6-track R&B-tinged EP titled 4LUV, just months after his critically acclaimed debut album B4Now. “Umoya” shares a similar sonic approach to songs like “Sika” and “Kwenzekile” where Blxckie showcases his knack for melodies against a backdrop of a mellow, slowed-down Amapiano instrumental produced by Herc Cut The Lights.
Makhadzi "Kulakwe" ft. Master KG
Open Mic Productions signee and Limpopo dance music heavyweight Makhadzi linked up with fellow label mate Master KG for her hit “Kulakwe.” The song seamlessly blends bolobedu house with elements of amapiano with and sees the pair continue to prove their hit-making synergy, which goes back many years back. The energetic Makhadzi has thrilled her fans on world stages with the song as she toured the UK, Canada and Australia this year.
DJ Sliqe "Sta Soft" ft. 25K, Flow Jones Jr. & Emtee
DJ/Producer Sliqe dropped his first single of the year “Sta Soft.” The trumpet-drenched, anthemic song features rap stars 25K and Emtee, who deliver stellar verses while rising act Flow Jones Jr. comes through with the standout, catchy chorus. “Sta Soft” was nominated as the song of the year in this year’s edition of the South African Hip Hop Awards (SAHHAs) and served as the first single to Sliqe’s Champion Music 2 collaborative tape with 25K and Maglera Doe Boy.
Senior Oat "All In You" ft. Kemy Chienda
Deep and soulful house remains a mainstay in South Africa’s highly competitive dance music scene amid the popularity of genres such as amapiano, gqom, and Afro-house/tech. Senior Oat’s gospel-tinged “All In You” broke boundaries beyond the sub-genre’s niche audience and become a mainstream chart-topper.
Russell Zuma "Angikaze"
After being a featured artist on a couple of hits including Gaba Cannal’s “Healer Ntliziyo Yami,” singer/songwriter Russel Zuma had his own standout moment as the main artist with "Angikaze." After trying to break into the the industry for many years, it finally happened for him in 2022. The vocalist’s debut EP Next Level seamlessly marries the sounds of deep house and amapiano, with his soulful voice and harmonies acting as a bridge between the two beloved genres.
Luxury SA "Crazy Vibez"
In today’s age, a trendy moment or song can change the trajectory of an aspiring talent. Relatively unknown producer/DJ Luxury SA creeped into the scene with his single “Crazy Vibes" and, almost out of nowhere, the song became viral and was the soundtrack to many social media posts. “The song’s performance has inspired me to work on a full album that will drop next year,” Luxury SA told a local newspaper.
Big Nuz "Ngeke" ft. DJ Yamza
The legendary Durban kwaito duo Big Nuz made a comeback in the last lap of the year. The Cape Town gqom-influenced “Ngeke” was the first single from their commemorative album R Mashesha (named after a former member of the group). In the album, the group maintains their signature sound without sounding dated.
Kususa x Argento Dust x Zakes Bantwini "Asanda"
The success of Zakes Bantwini and Kasango’s 2021 global hit “Osama” (and Karyendasoul’s “Imali”) was testament that songs from different genres can be prominent at the same time within South Africa’s dynamic dance music landscape. Though it only dropped recently, Afrotech spearheaders Kususa and Argento Dusto, alongside Zakes, have a strong 2022 song contender with “Asanda."
In April, Republic Records signee Lloyiso released the first of his many singles this year. “Speak” is an emotive, piano-laden ballad that, like most of his songs, highlights his soothing voice. “This song was about a bad patch in a relationship I was in. We forgot how to speak to each other,” the talented singer/songwriter shared in an Instagram post.
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