Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

The 15 Best South African Summer Songs of 2018

These are the hits South Africans will be losing their morals to this December.

In summer, especially the month of December, South Africa becomes something else.

December (or should we say Dezemba) is a lifestyle of some sort, where people forget about their troubles, work… pretty much everything and become shamelessly hedonistic—and we are totally here for that.

But there's nothing that makes Dezemba more memorable than the songs of the summer. It's those songs that are a permanent fixture on every South African's playlist as they take a break from a long and stressful year (2018 has been a lot!).

Below, we list some songs that have potential to be the soundtrack to December in South Africa. Some have already picked up in the past few months, while others are teeming with potential.

Note: This list is in no particular order.

Follow our SA Songs of the Summer playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

King Monada "Malwedhe"

King Monada Malwedhe [New Hit 2018] www.youtube.com

"Malwedhe" came from nowhere and staged a coup on the game. It comes with a dance that has travelled across the continent, without any formal promotion. King Monada has clearly cracked it—last year he did the same with "Ska Bhora Moreki," which was the soundtrack for the summer. Love or hate "Malwedhe," you will be forced to hear it everywhere you go, and chances are those close to you are fake-fainting and posting videos on social media. And you just might get on with the program, too.

Prince Kaybee "Banomoya" (ft. Busiswa & TNS)

Prince Kaybee ft Busiswa & TNS - Banomoya (Official Video) www.youtube.com

If you are living in South Africa, chances are you hear this song more than once in a day. "Banomoya" has the gqom hit secret weapon, singer Busiswa doing what she does best—vocal acrobatics and intentionally crass lyrics.

Dladla Mshunqisi ft. Tipcee "Ses'fikile"

Dladla Mshunqisi Feat Tipcee- Ses'fikile (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Afrotainment's latest signee Dladla Mshunqisi has one of the hottest house albums out, Umshunqo. "Ses'fikile" is the fan-favorite, and it's not hard to tell why—it has all the makings of a gqom hit: big drums, a looped synth and a chant on the hook.

DJ Maphorisa & DJ Raybel "iWalk Ye Phara" (feat. Moonchild Sanelly, K.O. & Zulu Mkhathini)

DJ Maphorisa, DJ Raybel - iWalk Ye Phara ft. Moonchild Sanelly, K.O, Zulu Mkhathini www.youtube.com

Another gqom firestarter, "iWalk Yephara" features diverse guests from the rapper K.O to singer Moonchild Sanelly. The artists share a pleasant beat that leads with a hollow synth creeping under those big drums you hear on your favorite gqom hits.

Moozlie ft. Kid X "Vatel"

Moozlie - Vatel (Official Music Video) ft. Kid X www.youtube.com

"Vatel" has an overt old school kwaito influence, so much that it's more hip-hop than kwaito. Producer Lunatik emulated kwaito veteran producer Mdu's production style—keys and a clean bass line—and Moozlie and Kid X laced it with catchy verses and a hook that are easy on the ear. A serious vibe.

Bigstar Johnson ft. Kwesta "Sgubu"

BigStar Johnson - Sgubu Feat. Kwesta [Official Video] www.youtube.com

Another hip-hop song that flirts with hip-hop, "Sgubu" sees Bigstar Johnson and Kwesta celebrate pantsula culture. They recycle lines from TKZee and use the hood slang that Kwesta is fluent in. "Sgubu" is mid tempo and resonates with those who experienced kwaito in the 90s and early 2000s.

L-Tido (ft. AKA) "No Favors"

L-tido - No Favors ft. AKA (Official Video) www.youtube.com

AKA gave Tido one of his catchy vocal hooks on "No Favors," which sits perfectly over Tweezy's minimalist yet rich instrumental. "No Favors" uses the tried and tested formula of making mega hip-hop hits in SA, and that's adulterating the genre with kwaito.

AKA ft. Kiddominant "Fela In Versace"

AKA - Fela In Versace ft. Kiddominant www.youtube.com

One of the biggest songs on SA radio this year, "Fela In Versace" has been topping the charts since it dropped a few months ago. "Fela In Versace" is a hybrid of pop, afrobeats and hip-hop, and unlike many crossover hits, it satisfies all those markets. The track caught fire towards the end of the winter, and we are still jamming to it in the summer.

Manu WorldStar "Nalingi"

Manu Worldstar - NaLingi www.youtube.com

Manu WorldStar's pop crossover hit is a smash hit, and will sure pack dance floors this December. "Nalingi" has all the makings of a hit—a catchy one-liner hook and a beat that's as smooth as it is catchy.

Cassper Nyovest "Gets Getsa 2.0"

Cassper Nyovest - Gets Getsa 2.0 (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Sampling kwaito legend Doc Shebeleza's "Gets Gets," "Gets Getsa 2.0" by Cassper Nyovest is one of the most ratchet songs that came out this year. Again, a mixture of kwaito and hip-hop yields a song that works in shebeens and clubs alike.

Mobi Dixon ft Samthing Soweto "Abantu"

Mobi dixon - Abantu www.youtube.com

Probably the most direct song of the year, "Abantu" is way up Dr Malinga's early output—it's a song about spending your money on booze and achieving happiness, in that order. That's exactly how December goes. Samthing Soweto's smooth vocals always sit perfectly over deep house beats, and "Abantu" is no different.

Black Coffee & David Guetta ft. Delilah Montagu "Drive"

Black Coffee & David Guetta - Drive feat. Delilah Montagu [Ultra Music] www.youtube.com

"Drive" is the perfect song to bump during a road trip (try it). Just like most deep house songs, "Drive" is an oxymoron as it's both laidback and catchy. "Drive" is already a staple on radio and people's playlists.

Kwesta "Vur Vai"

Kwesta - Vur Vai www.youtube.com

When December hits, hip-hop usually takes the backseat as house takes over. But Kwesta always holds down the fort—he's been doing it for the past two years with "Ngud'" and "Spirit." With "Vur Vai" having hit a million views already, he has clearly cracked it, and has one of the biggest songs of the year that people are already losing their morals to.

Manqonqo "Eyadini" (feat. Dason & Saviour Gee)

Manqonqo - Eyadini (ft Dason & Saviour Gee) www.youtube.com

"Eyadini" features a catchy vocal hook, which make the song. It also comes with some raps from Saviour Gee. Dason's singing is reminiscent of maskandi, but it sounds at home over a gqom beat.

Master KG "Skeleton Move" (ft. Zanda Zakuza)

Master KG - Skeleton Move [Feat. Zanda Zakuza] (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

"Skeleton Move" is a melodic house banger that has been growing in popularity since it dropped earlier in the year. It's the type of song that your neighbor is highly likely to have on repeat throughout the festive season, and as a result forcing you to fall in love with it. The beat didn't even need vocals—it could stand alone as an instrumental house jam and still become a hit. But the vocals don't sound out of place either.

Follow our SA Songs of the Summer playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

More hits...

Donald "Sanctuary Love" (feat. Zanda Zakuza, DJ Tira & Prince Bulo)

SANCTUARY LOVE - Donald ft Tira, Zanda Zakuza & Prince Bulo www.youtube.com

DJ Sbu ft. Portia Monique "Beautiful"

DJ Sbu feat. Portia Monique - Beautiful www.youtube.com

Ishmael "Ever Since (Takalani)"


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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