Op-Ed

It Will Take More Than an ‘Authentic African Sound’ for South African Artists to Blow Up Globally

It will take more than that.

Last week, in a move that got various interpretations, South Africans were scratching their heads on Twitter trying to figure out why the country's musicians fail to break in markets like the United States and abroad.

This came after Burna Boy released his latest album African Giant. A fittingly titled album, it trended in different corners of the world upon release, shooting straight to number 1 in various countries. Pitchfork, The FADER and The Atlantic are some of the reputable publications that wrote in-depth reviews of the album, which boasts features from US and UK stars such as Future, YG, Jeremih and Jorja Smith alongside fellow African giants M.anifest and Angelique Kidjo.

Burna Boy is having his moment right now. But he's only just one of many Nigerian artists who are enjoying attention from the U.S. at the moment. The likes of Wizkid, Davido and Tiwa Savage are slowly gaining notable traction in the US and UK.

South Africa has refused to miss out on the current scramble for Africa by the west, which is looking at the continent for "inspiration" and, more recently, collaboration. South African artists such as Black Coffee, Nasty C, Sjava, Petite Noir, Sho Madjozi, AKA, Cassper Nyovest have all been on major international platforms, scooped some awards and collaborated with major US artists. But none of them, except for Black Coffee, have come close to making their mark in the States the way Nigerian artists have.

South Africans, in their analysis, have cited different reasons for South African musicians' failure to break internationally—lack of unity and lack of originality were two of the most cited.

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Nasty C at Cotton Fest. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Why Nasty C is The Greatest South African Rapper of This Generation

In the generation of South African rappers who rose to prominence after 2010, no one can touch Nasty C.

Stogie T's monthly vlog "Verse of the Month" sees the veteran lyricist pick outstanding verses every month from songs provided to him by the Slikour On Life staff.

The vlog culminates in the Verse of the Year awards, in which 10 verses from the previous year earn rappers trophies, which are presented in an award ceremony, the second installment took place last night at The Wits Club in Joburg.

This year, Nasty C was the winner of the ultimate verse.

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Da L.E.S. Photo by Mkhabela.

There’s No One Way To Be An “Authentic” South African Artist

Rappers with American accents tell authentic South African stories.

(South) African rappers sounding American. Rapping in American accents, dressing like Americans, and making American references in their music—these are not new topics.

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Op-Ed
AKA. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

‘Touch My Blood’ Is AKA’s Most Layered Album

Thematically and sonically, this is AKA's most diverse album. One which sees him shouting out legends and mentioning his coloured identity.

Two days before the release of his third studio album, AKA makes a grand entrance at one of the many enclaves of Moyo Restaurant in Melrose Arch at Johannesburg's posh north. This particular enclave, which is filled to the brim with journalists, family and friends of AKA's, media personalities and artists, boasts decoration that doesn't tell you there's a listening session for a hip-hop album being held here—it looks upmarket with helium balloons floating all over.

"I didn't want it to be some small event with a bunch of journalists in some studio somewhere," says AKA when he eventually gets to speak. This is after he has sent salutations to those close to him present at the event—he hugs his mother, dances with her for a few seconds, hugs and shouts out some of his goons. Later, he will recognize Tibz, his first ever manager, in the audience and pay respect to him.

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