Audio

The Rise Of Swaziland’s Hip-Hop Scene: 13 Notable Swazi Hip-Hop Artists

In "The Rise Of Swaziland’s Hip-Hop Scene," Sabelo Mkhabela highlights 13 notable Swazi hip-hop acts.


Over the past five years Swaziland’s hip-hop scene has been steadily shaping up and finding its own voice. A gust of Swazi artists are demanding to be taken seriously. A decade ago the kingdom had essentially no hip-hop scene. At the time, there were just a few artists – the pioneers of Swazi hip-hop – who had their songs played on radio and their videos on TV. Their music though, wasn’t fully formed — the beats and delivery were weak and their concepts recycled.

Swaziland is not the most technologically advanced country. Bandwidth is still a luxury. Soaring data costs have stalled the Swazi music industry’s growth in the digital sphere. The average citizen cannot afford to access streaming sites on a daily basis. The majority of artists are unable to use sites like SoundCloud, Bandcamp and YouTube to promote their music.

Instead, artists in Swaziland rely on radio for their music to be heard. Though a few radio show hosts have been working to spread the artform, like MTN Top 20 co-hosts Bongani “Bobo” Dlamini and Bongani “DJ Tizalami” Dube, and The Swazi Rhythm’s Lindelwa “Lindz” Mafa, by and large the nation has been reluctant to give local hip-hop a chance.

The country has one major radio station, Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS ) that’s split into two channels – one that broadcasts in Swati (SBIS1) and another that broadcasts in English (SBIS2). The latter, a youth-orientated station, is the more likely of the two to play rap. But because radio hosts make their own playlists, they’ll only play songs that they personally know and like. And even if an artist’s song does get played, they won’t see any royalties. In Swaziland, airplay is entirely about exposure.

Hip-hop as a culture never truly flourished in Swaziland either. Djing, B-boying, graffiti, ciphers and park jams are essentially unheard of in the small kingdom. Recently though, some strides have been made. The general public now seems willing to pay attention to local rappers. Swazis have begun headlining well-attended shows and sharing stages with South Africa’s most revered acts. The annual Hipnotik Festival – a mid-year youth music festival that hosts the biggest names in South African and Swazi hip-hop – offers perhaps the greatest opportunity for hip-hop to shine in Swaziland.

A few Swazi rappers have even seen their faces on corporate billboards, and their songs used for big brand ad campaigns. Though working within a sloppy music industry, in a country that itself has much to deal with, a handful of Swazi rappers are ready for the world stage.

In the following pages, Sabelo Mkhabela highlights 13 notable Swazi hip-hop acts.

Next Page
Popular

How Technology Is Playing a Crucial Role in the #EndSARS Protests

Young people in Nigeria have successfully managed to use technological innovations to organize and make the #EndSARS protests run incredibly efficiently and easily. This moment will go down in history as a revolution that was birthed via technology.

It has been more than a week since young people in Nigeria took to the streets to demand that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, infamously known as SARS, be scrapped for good. Created in 1992, this police unit was originally set up to beat back armed robbery, the use of firearms and rising cases of kidnappings that grew in the late eighties. However, the unit went rogue, becoming more notorious for its savagery than actual crime-fighting. With a rap sheet ranging from profiling, harassment and assault to, in more extreme cases, slaughtering innocent citizens, these quasi-officers have unleashed terror on the nation for more than two decades.

Their victims are predominantly young Nigerians profiled on appearance—whether they drive exotic vehicles, use the latest gadgets, have their hair dyed or locked, or have piercings. In some cases, working in tech often gets conflated with financial fraud. For people who don't meet the absurd criteria, the mood of the officer can often become the difference between life and death.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Emile YX? Wants to 'Reconnect The String'

The father of South African hip-hop's latest book release is here to teach you about the culture.