Music

The 20 Best South African Hip-Hop Songs of 2021 So Far

The best South African hip-hop songs of the year so far featuring Nasty C, Blxckie, Stino Le Thwenny, K.O, A-Reece and more.

Since experiencing somewhat of a renaissance circa 2014, South African hip-hop has once more found itself at a crossroads. With the advent of trap, drill and even amapiano, the genre has had to reimagine itself to capture the imagination of its primary audience.

While fusion still plays a huge role in SA hip-hop, like its iterations including skhanda rap, mzonkonko and new age kwaito prove, there remains a golden thread that runs through the genre. Rather than a sonic quality, that thread seems to be an attitude, lifestyle or aspirational outlook and that perhaps explains why there's such a broad church of sounds from the community.

South African hip-hop is as much indebted to its street corners and nightspots as it is to the idealistic environment it finds itself in. In a sense, as society experiences fluctuations so do the sounds we hear from South African rappers. When progress is made that creates a space for more conversations from more people, but stagnation also impacts the ability to have a monolithic product to offer.

In this context, expect to hear several iterations of hip-hop from several generations of rappers from different walks of life and imagine hip-hop as the soundtrack of the current moment.

Below, we round up our picks of the best South African hip-hop songs of 2021 so far, listed in no particular order.

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Music

Review: Maglera Doe Boy’s Latest Album Is An Engrossing Love Letter to South Africa's Street Corners

Maglera Doe Boy's Shakespearean spin on township rap shines on '2Player [The Digital Score]', his debut offering indebted to video games and long, lazy days at the arcade.

Following Champion Music, his 2020 collaborative EP with rapper 25K and DJ Sliqe, Maglera Doe Boy serves up his debut solo offering titled 2Player [The Digital Score]. Delivering an authentic slice of the South African experience with poise, the album rolls witty punchlines and melodic flows into anecdotes of a township upbringing.

Street Dreams

Sonically and thematically exploring the dichotomy between a grimey come-up and the pursuit of luxury, the 14-track project encapsulates Maglera's vibrant iteration of motswako – straata (the streets). Through the wordsmith's point of view, we see the duality of many a hustler's lifestyle — placing them between trap houses, bodegas and five-star establishments.

Making motswako the mouthpiece of the everyman, Maglera crafts the perfect concept album by chronicling his continued rise to stardom. Over production by Apu Sebekedi, BrianOHaze, Sliqe, Khalil Masia, SKinniez, Kay Couture, Emamkay and Subs, the Klerksdorp native creates a cinematic universe that pays homage to South Africa's street corners.

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The 20 Best South African Songs of 2019

Featuring DJ Zinhle, Tellaman, Sun-El Musician, Flame, Kabza De Small, The Big Hash, MFR Souls, Spaza, and many more

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The 20 Best South African Hip-Hop Songs of 2019

Featuring Solo, Yanga Chief, Hanna, A-Reece, Indigo Stella, Shane Eagle, Priddy Ugly, Flame and many more.