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Sjava. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

The 14 Best South African Songs of the Month

Heaters from Sjava, Nonku Phiri, Nasty C, J Smash, and Umaah, among others.

Our list of the best South African songs of the month includes new singles that dropped in July alongside those that were highlighted by getting the visual treatment.

Check out our selections below, which feature Nasty C, Nonku Phiri, PH, J Smash and more.

The list is in no particular order.


Nonku Phiri "Sîfó"

On her new single, Nonku Phiri's still singing over electronic production effortlessly. In "Sîfó," she stacks her vocals when she harmonized to make them sound like synthesizers, thus using her voice as an instrument which blends with the beat.

Nasty C "SMA" (ft Rowlene)

Nasty C and Rowlene have great chemistry. "SMA" from Nasty C's stellar sophomore album Strings and Bling, is as emotionally intense as "Phases" from the rapper's debut album Bad Hair.

AKA ft. Kiddominant "Fela In Versace"

AKA highlighted "Fela In Versace," one of the strongest songs from his latest album, Touch My Blood, as a single. What do you get when you mix Naija's afrobeats with South African hip-hop and pop? A massive banger.

Read: 'Touch My Blood' Is AKA's Most Layered Album

Manu WorldStar "Nalingi"

Manu WorldStar, the up-and-coming South African-born Congolese hip-hop artist's latest single is an Afropop smoothie that's currently melting everyone's hearts (hash tags don't lie). The song sees Manu taking a break from the bars he's known for, and opting to serenade a lady who stole his heart, over smooth keys and cloudy pads, surrounded by layers of percussion.

Amilca Mezerati "Milly Rock" (ft. TRP, Dee Koala and DJ Fabo)

Amilca Mezerati and his collaborators have rich personalities, and on "Milly Rock," they showcase it by way of black Cape Town slang and convincing delivery over a trap beat. Get the bag, dab and milly rock. In that order. "Milly Rock" is from a scorcher of an EP, Road to Ringz, which you can check out here.

Priddy Ugly "Reminder II"

In his firsts song this year, Priddy Ugly does what we fell in love with him for, and that's rapping like his life depends on it. The song is a sequel to "Reminder To Myself," which Priddy dropped three years ago. The sequel is as introspective as its predecessor. Priddy gives himself a pep talk, reminding himself (and us) how great he is, and how much he still has to achieve.

Umaah "Baptist"

"Baptist" is the opening song of Umaah's Sheila EP. She sings convincingly without even trying over a spacious boom bap instrumental by Micr. Pluto. Don't sleep on the EP and Umaah.

J Smash (ft. Emtee) "Never Fall"

"Never Fall" is classic Emtee—he reminds you that he's the head honcho of this shit, (he shows you the receipts, too), and he will never fall. His rapping and singing are impressive as usual, and he appropriates the hook of "Many Men" by 50 Cent. Trap king in full force.

LaSauce "Ncese"

LaSauce recently highlighted "Ncese," a 2017 song from her debut album Broken Lipstick, with a music video. The video plays out like a short film, and just like the song, tells the story of endurance, mistakes and forgiveness.

PH "Fire" (ft. Bongani Radebe)

The latest from PH is a catchy hybrid of jazz and hip-hop. He croons with the aid of auto tune, while a saxophone solo by Bongani Radebe creeps in the background.

Sjava "Confession"

The opening song of Sjava's EP Umphako is one of the strongest on the project, and all four songs go in. On "Confession," Sjava sings about fearing giving his love to a woman because he feels she might not reciprocate. The music on here is reminiscent of the artist's debut album Isina Muva.

Stilo Magolide "Boo'd Up" Remix

Rapper and member of Boyzn Bucks, Stilo Magolide recently released his take of Ella Mai's viral hit. He spits some lovey-dovey sing-songy raps and gives the hook a South African flavor by incorporating some IsiZulu. Stilo is smooth as usual, and sounds comfortable.

Zakwe "Roots" (ft. Stogie T and Jay Claude)

Zakwe enlisted the rap skills of Stogie T and the vocal skills of Jay Claude for "Roots" from his third album Cebisa. T's verse steals the show with a verse that tells the story of how far he's come with impressive penmanship (nothing new there). "Roots" is emotional and personal, and has soul, and stands out on Cebisa, which is a potent album.

Muzi "Zulu Skywalker"

"Zulu Skywalker," the latest single from Muzi's debut album Afrovision, got the visual treatment. On the song's animated video, a 4-year-old black princess takes off to space.

Read: Muzi's 'Afrovision' Album is the Soundtrack to "Real-Life Wakanda"
Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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