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The 19 Best South African Songs of the Month

SA songs that caught our attention this month featuring MarazA, Stiff Pap, Kabza De Small, Beat Sampras etc.

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 MarazA, Stiff Pap, Kabza De Small, Beat Sampras, among others.

The list is in no particular order.

Follow our MZANSI HEAT playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Distruction Boyz (ft. NaakMusiQ & DJ Tira) "Sinenkani"

The drums don't knock as hard as on their previous songs and most gqom songs. The adlibs are softer, too. The trade off is made up for by a bigger focus on vocals, that guarantee a wider appeal. NaakMusiQ's melodies and DJ Tira's chants are safe choices for a song that won't struggle to travel.

​​Nadia Nakai (ft. Khuli Chana) "On The Block"

Nadia shares a gnarly boom bap beat with veteran Khuli Chana in what is arguably the best song in her stellar debut album Nadia Naked.

​DJ Sandiso "Buya (Loxion Deep's Yanos Remix)" (featuring Leehleza and Allstarz Musiq)


An amapiano remix commissioned to Loxion Deep by DJ Sandiso for his single "Buya," the song makes the connection between the house subgenre and kwaito quite obvious.

​MarazA x M2Kan3 "Neww Neww"

"Neww Neww" displays chemistry from two dynamic emcees, and achieves the feat of being catchy, while still displaying great traits from the two artists. They maintain a uniform flow so effortlessly, they make it look easy. Their upcoming joint project promises to be a gem.

DJ Kaymoworld "The Come Up" (ft. 25K, Reason and Espiquet)

Newcomers 25K and Espiquet appear alongside Reason on DJ Kaymoworld's new single, which is fittingly titled "The Come Up." 25K delivers a catchy hook, while Reason and Espiquet rap laidback verses over a minimal trap instrumental.

​Tierra Whack, Beyonce, Moonchild Sanelly and Busiswa "MY POWER"

Four big personalities share a gqom-inspired beat in a song that's teeming with character and knocks really hard.

​Gigi Lamayne ft. Mickey M, Red Button, Siya Shezi, Duncan, F-Eezy "Full Clip"

Gigi Lamayne gathered kasi rap royalty for a song that's named after the legendary radio show The Full Clip, which aired on YFM in the early 2010s. All the rappers featured on the song used to be mainstays on the show, and are all from Soweto, where kasi rap is believed to have been born.

​Rouge ft. Emtee "Popular"

A collaboration no one saw coming, but it works perfectly fine. Rouge's high energy is the yin to the yang that's Emtee's laidback delivery.

Khuli Chana ft Cassper Nyovest "Ichu"

Khuli Chana has been in the game for years, but he makes sure to never rest on his laurels. "Ichu" is another song in which the motswako legend's innovative nature shines.

​Tshego ft. King Monada "No Ties"

South African R&B/hip-hop artist Tshego's new song features house sensation King Monada. Titled "No Ties," the single is a catchy R&B tune that that sees the two artists exchange vocals over a smooth instrumental consisting of breezy pads and rich instrumentation.

​DJ Maphorisa x Kabza De Small "Amantombazane" (ft. Samthing Soweto & Mfr Souls)

A soulful amapiano smoothy that features Samthing Soweto, an artist who can do no wrong and has one of the most impactful voices in the game.

DJ Double D "Yeah (Remix)" (ft. Da Les, AKA, YoungstaCPT)

A notable remix that features a standout verse from AKA, who lets us is on his bromance with Da Les.

Stiff Pap "Mkokotelo"

Stiff Pap is on to something. Their latest single, a further exploration of kwaito and modern electronic music, shows signs of masterfulness. Both rapper Ayema Problem and producer Jakinda merge perfectly, as a result of the time they've been making together.

​PHFAT "My Lady"

An electronic soul tune with dope raps (and they make a lot of sense this time around). With its bright synths and pads, "My Lady" is summoning the summer that we've been longing for, for the past few months.

​King Monada "One Day" (ft. Leon Lee)

King Monada is essentially a house artist known for his summer anthems such as "Ska Bhora Moreki" and "Malwedhe," but "New Day" doesn't intend to make you dance. The song focuses on vocals more than it does on instrumentation. The artist croons with the aid of autotune over a guitar riff sitting on 808s drums. The song features Leon Lee, who's known for his Sepedi vocals. He sings backing vocals and is also given a verse.

​Frank Casino (ft. Cassper Nyovest) "Sudden"

Frank Casino highlights one of the best songs from his 2018 EP with a blockbuster music video. The video kicks off with a skit that could pass for a movie scene. Learn more here.

​Beat Sampras "Stop & Go"

Guitarist and vocalist Dylan Fine and producer David Migwalla make up the Cape Town-based duo known as Beat Sampras. Their music is a mashup of genres including R&B, soul and trap. In their latest single "Stop and Go," Dylan strums and croons atop a trap bassline. The track is a soothing love song that reveals great writing, effortless singing and the chemistry the duo has displayed in their previous records and performances.

The Big Hash "Circles"

The Big Hash highlights "Circles," a standout song his mixtape Young, with a new video. In it, the rapper tells parts of the ordeal in which he lets us on the song visually. The woman in question is seen betraying Hash. The video was directed by Clout Cassette, a name you should be familiar with if you've been checking out A-Reece's recent music videos.

Flame "CandyMan"

The gems on Flame's debut album are plenty. The title track is one of many. It has been on repeat at the OkayAfrica office alongside many others on the project.

Follow our MZANSI HEAT playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.


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Collage by Ta'Ron Joyner

I Would Rather Breathe Than Think Outside the Box

South African artists were already working for little to no pay, but the pandemic has unleashed a flood of exploitative work requests right when we need money the most.

This essay is part of OkayAfrica's SA Reframed series, featuring personal writing from some of South Africa's best young writers edited by Verashni Pillay.

On the radio the other day, I heard a small business owner of a costume design company being interviewed and asked how they have managed to:

a. Reinvent themselves during this period, and

b. Think outside the box while doing so.

Their conversation made me think about how I have not managed to wrap my head around any sort of future, or reinvention outside any kind of box—beyond the one that wraps itself around my immediate reality. When the lockdown was announced, three friends and I withdrew to a remote area where internet access was dubious and, most times, simply not available. I would need to walk a bit of a distance to locate a spot under a tree or up a mountain to be connected for thirty minutes, or so.

Then I would do a basic comb through my emails and respond to work or requests that were already underway pre-lockdown. I only responded to new requests that either afforded me the opportunity to earn an income or those that allowed me to be productive on my own terms.

I was tired, lowkey grateful for the global pause, and no longer interested in the overly productive, overloaded nature of my previous normal. Something about the forced halt made me realise that I was on the edge of everything—myself included. I turned down anything that required me to join the endless online festivals, zoom panel discussions, Instagram takeovers and live readings. I refused all opportunities that needed me to grapple with any sort of forced normalcy. The ones that offered data or airtime or solidarity as compensation or assumed that I had gone pro bono. I needed a moment. I needed the space and time to re-bargain with the point of it all.

The pause was both useful and scary. It brought to the surface fears and revelations about the shortfalls of our industry and how creatives are positioned within the productivity machinery and economy of South Africa, or rather all the ways we fall outside of it.

As Minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi mentioned in a briefing two months ago, "On the issue of freelance workers—unfortunately with the current legislation they fall outside. Maybe what we are going to do is that after this we will have to re-look at it in terms of our legislative amendments and start a debate about that." Why are there laws that have gone unchallenged? Who should be challenging them? Why are artists hearing, out loud for the first time, of convenient loopholes that render us outside of an economy that taxes us like everyone else, and consumes us and our work. Yet, in times of crisis, this same economy engages with our art and our productivity and our products, but still deems us on the margin, outside, and non-essential. If we are not assisted financially, how can we be productive, how can we acquire the resources to produce? How can we apply our minds to anything else outside of survival and scrambling to stay afloat.

Pandemics do not mean that artists have gone pro bono

When you approach an artist with the assumption that they have gone pro bono during this time, when you draft an email to request a collaboration, a commission, a participation, a productivity of any kind, please bear in mind that artists are up against an unconcerned and corrupt government that has failed to provide aid and assistance to their sector during this time.

Theatre critic Sara Holdren says "Art is hard and most of it fails—either in small ways or catastrophic ones." In South Africa, the process of making art is hard, sure, but more than that, the conditions and the context in which we make work fails us in catastrophic ways that will require more than a debate and amended legislation. It will need, for starters, a minister who cares about the arts and understands its soul and mechanisms. This pause has brought about more questions and concerns for me than inspiration to reinvent or think outside the box. I have questions about the box itself and why I feel asphyxiated and trapped by its design.

I would rather breathe than think outside of the box

This pandemic has made me question what my career, livelihood and stability have been built on; what has been propping them up all this time, and what has been allowing me to appear valued and valuable in this economy? What does and will the spectrum of value look like in a normal that has been disrupted and now sits in a near distant future that may or may not be near?

Then I find myself vacillating between hope and concern. My hope is that when the pandemic is no longer with us, artists can have a come-to-jesus conversation about what has contributed and exacerbated this attitude and disrespect toward our practice and industry, I hope we can challenge the legislations that we have been dared to challenge, I hope we can be productive in ways that serve us and make sense for our well-being, that we will be paid our worth and that our society will realize that without the artist producing, there will be no art, or music, or films, or books and things that have kept people entertained and creatively nourished during this time.

My concern is that the "free"content artists are currently creating and the free access to art or performances, will not make this realisation possible, and that this kind of access, that was already undervalued and exploited, will be irreversible. The exploitation dialogue is tiring. Being treated as non-essential is tiring and terrifying too, and while most of the world can slowly start going back to work, most artists will probably have to hang tight until 2021, maybe even 2022.

While artists deal with a hoax of an arts and culture department that is dead to us and a minister who tweets more than he does his job, in an ideal world, I wish that artists could afford to indulge uncertainty, and fear, and pause, in ways that allow them to heed the call made by Nicholas Berger in his piece The Forgotten Art of Assembly [Or, Why Theatre Makers Should Stop Making] "We must lean into this pain. We must feel the grief. We must mourn. Mourn the loss of work, the loss of jobs, the loss of money, the loss of life. Mourn the temporary loss of an art form that demands assembly. Lean into the grief. Lean in. Lean in. Lean in. We must remind ourselves that mourning is a human act, not a digital one."

Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Her bestselling debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia is in its 10th print run and her play No Easter Sunday for Queers Sunday for Queers won several awards.

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