The Best South African Songs of 2023 So Far
Featuring Loatinover Pounds, Inkabi Zezwe, AKA, Point1, Nomfundo Moh, Lwah Ndlunkulu and many more.
Year in, year out, South African artists continue to fight for their rightful place within the global music landscape—and 2023 hasn’t been an exception. In February, Wouter Kellerman, Nomcebo Zikode and Zakes Bantwini walked away with Grammy trophies, and the globe-trotting Black Coffee, a long with large list of other Afro-tech DJs, are regularly touring abroad. Artists constantly find creative ways to express themselves and push boundaries by fusing elements of different genres, resulting in captivating styles and songs.
Check out our picks for The Best South African Songs of 2023 So Far below and stay updated on the latest South African music with our monthly Best South African Right Now column.
Inkabi Zezwe "Umbayimbayi"
This year, two musical heavyweights, Sjava and Big Zulu joined their powers to form Inkabi Zezwe. Their debut single as a duo, “Umbayimbayi,” became an instant hit and chart-topper. Within a few months after release, the thumper has achieved multi-platinum status. In May, Inkabi Zezwe also put out their collaborative album Ukhamba.
AKA & KDDO "Company"
Legendary musician AKA tragically passed away earlier this year while preparing to release his LP, Mass Country. The KDDO-assisted “Company,” dropped a few days after his untimely loss as the album’s lead single. The song has been well received by his fans, known as The Megacy, and the general public, proving that the artist may no longer be with us physically but his music will live forever.
2Point1 "Stimela" ft, Ntate Stunna & Nthabi Sings
When producer duo 2Point1 released their track “Stimela" late last year, it quickly started gaining traction on TikTok. To capitalize on the hype, the duo put out a disco-era-inspired music video in January , shot and directed by Toolz Films, and a reworked version of the song.
Sjava, Q Twins & Mzukulu "Isoka"
In late January, esteemed musician Sjava shared his third full-length project, Isibuko, his most introspective work yet. The album’s lead single, “Isoka” is an Afropop record, which features the duo Q Twins and Maskandi artist Mzulukulu and has the artists take turns to express how a lady loves whoever she loves. The enchanting track got nominated for Best Collaboration and Song Of The Year at this year’s Metro FM Music Awards.
Loatinover Pounds "Sosh Plata (Remix)" ft. 25K & Thapelo Ghutra
Rap newcomer Loatinover Pounds is having a moment. The MC has struck gold with his breakout single “Sosh Plata” and its accompanying remix. The 25K and Thapelo Ghutra-assisted re-up of the viral track is a contender for this year’s best hip-hop song of the year.
Lwah Ndlunkulu "Ngiyeza"
Inkabi Records’ Lwah Ndlunkulu ushered the year with the heart-warming ballad “Ngiyeza.” On the track, the rising singer-songwriter expresses her undying love for her romantic partner and her relentless wish for them to stay together. Much like her previous single, “iThuba,” the song is produced by and has additional vocals from her label mates Xowla (Stallion) and Siya Ntuli.
Nomfundo Moh "Amalobolo" ft. Big Zulu
Prolific songstress Nomfuno Moh geared up for the release of her sophomore album, Ugcobo, with a lead single titled “Amalobolo.” The Big Zulu-assisted song sees Nomfundo express her dissatisfaction with a romantic partner who has been stalling to pay lobola (dowry) and take her hand in marriage. The accompanying music video, directed by Slowman, further conveys this message with 80s-era-inspired visuals.
Flow Jones Jr. "Pramis, Swuh" ft. Blxckie, Maglera Doe Boy
Burgeoning rapper Flow Jones Jr. linked up with Blxckie and Maglera Doe Boy on his single “Pramis, Swuh.” Flow Jones and Blxckie trade trap-inspired bars throughout the song while setting the pace for Maglera to deliver yet another standout verse. Flow Jones Jr. caught the mass’ attention through a string of singles and a show-stopping performance on DJ Sliqe’s 2022 banger “Sta Soft.”
Tyla "Been Thinking"
Through the release of Beyoncé’s Renaissance and Drake’s Honestly, Never Mind albums, house music had somewhat resurgent within the global pop arena in 2022. Breakout pop star Tyla follows in the same terrain and seamlessly blends R&B melodies and amapiano embellishments on her latest single, “Been Thinking.” The house-inflected tune expands on the fast-rising signature and showcases her as a versatile artist that can dabble in different styles.
Senior Oat "It Is Well" ft. Oliphant Gold & Romeo ThaGreatwhite
After a successful breakout in 2022, Senior Oat returned this year with a new single aptly titled “It Is Well.” The track follows his proven hit-making signature of blending deep house instrumentals with spiritual-themed vocals and messaging, as shown previously on the widely popular “All In You” and “Give Me Jesus.”
Artwork Sounds x Bee Bar “Awesome God” ft. Kabza De Small
This year, house duo Artwork Sounds released the second edition of their album series, The Gospel According To Artwork Sounds II. The project’s lead single, “Awesome God,” featuring Bee Bar and Kabza De Small, melds deep house and amapiano elements and varnishes the soulful instrumental with a sample of Michael W Smith’s gospel classic “Awesome God” — a recurring style that reverberates on most of the first disc of the two-part LP.
Casswell P & Master KG "Mangihlale" ft. Lwami
Master KG’s Wanitwa Mos imprint is a gift that keeps giving. Casswell P, an artist signed to the label, caught a slow burner with “Mangihlale” alongside vocalist Lwami and his stable boss. Stylistically, the song lies within the hit-proven signature sound of Wanitwa Mos.
Sykes "Sisekakeni Babies" ft. Skillz Musiq & RudeBoyz
After being a guest feature on a handful of house tracks since 2020, Sykes is finally having a breakthrough as a lead artist. The burgeoning vocalist’s debut official single, “Sisekakeni Babies,” produced by Skillz and Rude Boyz put him on the map when its snippet went viral on social media.
Atmos Blaq "Kwa Mama"
In April, rising producer/DJ Atmos Blaq released his long-awaited thumping single “KwaMama” on Stay True Sounds. The record blends elements of Afrotech and amapiano and pioneers a style dubbed ‘3 step’, which Atmos Blaq is spearheading with Thakzin. The song has already gained significant support from some big names within the Afro House scene, like Kitty Amor, DJ Kent, and Canadian record producer Kaytranada.
Lloyiso "Give A Little Kindness" ft. Edenglen High School
On March 31st., talented singer/songwriter Lloyiso shared his debut EP, Seasons. “ Give A Little Kindness” is just about giving empathy to yourself, and not always beating yourself down for things that you cannot control, and appreciating that you're going to get through things,” the vocalist shared on the project liner notes. The Republic Records signee displays this vulnerability throughout the 9-track project as he sings his lungs out.