The 10 best South African hip-hop verses of 2016
by: Mayuyuka Kaunda - 13 December 2016
1. Emtee on Stogie T’s “By Any Means”
On Stogie T’s “By Any Means”, Emtee delivers another one of his catchy hooks. He also proceeds to drop a fire verse alongside stellar names in Yanga and Stogie T fka Tumi Molekane. The well-structured verse shows an appreciation for schemes, and the switch-up of flow is insane in the second half of the verse. Emtee rides the beat amazingly when he reminds us how he’s “been banging in them streets/ I been slanging to these fiends”. If he keeps spitting this way we foresee more “snackin’ on weak rappers” in future. He’s got to be crowned leader of the new school after this.
2. Yanga on AKA’s “Dreamwork”
Yanga’s contribution to this joint is as memorable his appearances on AKA’s “Run Jozi” and “Baddest”. Yanga always seems to have a quotable on deck. “I keep a hunna for the cop car/ Chuck it in the corner” is so relatable and delivered with a cadence so nonchalant you can’t help but feel his confidence oozing. He really did “put the work in like a grown up” on this one.
3. Riky Rick on Nasty C’s “A Star is Born”
Ricky Rick has largely made headlines for his fashion sense this year, and has built his brand into more than just being a musician. I’ll never forgive him for his “boyzin, toyzin, noyzin” line on Major League’s “Zulu Girls” in 2015, but he more than makes up for it on Nasty C’s “A Star is Born”. On the heartfelt verse, Riky reminds us of his early days struggling. He raps, “I turned savage/ I’m scraping like every cent/ A couple years ago, baby mama covered the rent/ Then she covered the gas to get my car to the studio.”
4. Rouge on the first verse of her “Sheba Ngwan O'”
Rouge’s inclusion in the MTV Base Cyphers ahead of the MTV Hottest MCs List is proof of her growing reputation as a raw emcee. This track signals her intent to be a notable name in the SA hip-hop industry. Her flow is incredible and fits snuggly with the producer Wichi 1080’s bassline. With lines like “I’m too put together/ The haters and gossip can miss me/ Wannabes all tryna diss me but I’m too busy”, she’s definitely focused, and you should keep a lookout for her if you haven’t been.
5. Cassper Nyovest on Tshego’s “Hennessy”
Cassper’s verse on “Hennessy” is the culmination of a huge couple of years for him with both his albums having gone platinum. On this track, he’s laid back and just lays in the cut. The standout line has to be “Me and my niggas call it Tupac’s tears, you call it Henessy/ You want some I got two cups here”. And oh, honestly Cassper, you can stop being an underdog with lines like “Everybody loves you until you’re loved by everybody.” Great verse, but stop complaining.
6. K.O on Pro’s “Pholas”
It felt like K.O had gotten rather too comfortable with his flow and delivery for a while, but he pushes himself on this one, starting his verse off with the line, “Earthquake when I move, I spark a new wave”. Shuu. This whole verse is the classic multi-syllabic Papa Action we’ve come to love. Peep this: “Baby Jake on the mic, my punches are so lethal/ Spectacular, miraculous flow uthelawayeka la/ WeGanja Beatz awenze lapho”.
7. Blaklez second verse on his “Spoko” (ft. Khuli Chana)
There’s never mistaking Blaklez for anyone else. He’s in his own lane in terms of flow and delivery. His cadence on this track is amazing. With such a comfortable tempo, he sneaks in smart lines like, “I’m not a jailbird but baby mceli number”. What makes this track memorable isn’t just the Lebo Mathosa sample, but how delectable Si Pitori sounds against the backdrop of this beat. And for any lyricists tryna pose a challenge, Blaklez provides a warning at the beginning of his second verse: “Ek se fida my authi, ska re chanceetsa. Ha re claime ha re o chaela hore re dikwankwetla.” Smooth.
8. AKA on DJ Sliqe’s “Bay’ 2″
AKA has struck the perfect balance between spitting hardcore bars and flowing rhythmically over feel-good tracks. DJ Sliqe’s “Bay’ 2” sees the dream team of him, JR and Yanga combine to great effect. The standout verse has to be AKA’s, though, with sprinklings of vernac lines. The flow is incredible, while the now-trademark pauses mid-bar make this effort shine as bright as the 22 carats on his neck.
9. Kid Tini on the second verse of “No Drama”
Kid Tini is one of the pretenders to the throne, and his sharp, witty punchlines are on full display on his debut mixtape Coming of Age. Try deciphering this line off his track “No Drama”: “Same dude with flow colder than Mayweather/ Bob, weave, jab, even the hook is a haymaker”. At the risk of sounding corny, he’d TKO a lot of rappers bar for bar. Keep a lookout for more crazy lines in 2017.
10. Youngsta’s first verse on his “Top Ten List”
Youngsta delivers a well-constructed song with name-dropping as the basis of his content. Everyone from Nasty C to ProVerb gets a mention here. This is a bold statement from the Cape Town rapper at knowing your dopeness and staking your claim as the best. The song’s rugged verses are separated by a catchy hook that balances it out perfectly. If your faves didn’t get their props as we round up the year, then fuck a top 10 list ‘cause “this shit is rigged like machines at casinos” as Youngsta aggressively reminds us.
Feature image of K.O shot by Sabelo Mkhabela
What were your favourite verses of 2016? Let us know in the comments section below.