They had a great run in 2015. As 2016 begins, here are a few young musicians you should be checking out, in no particular order.
You’ve probably heard his smash single “Roll Up“, which won Song of the Year at the 2015 South African Hip Hop Awards. It’s been labelled bubblegum rap by a few critics but if his MTV Base cypher is anything to go by, this cat has a lot more to offer. After receiving props on Twitter from the likes of AKA, Burna Boy, Riky Rick, Donald, DJ Cleo and Naak Musiq, there was no stopping the young Jo’burg-based rapper. AKA and WizKid jumped on the remix to “Roll Up” called “Roll Up Re-Up”. 2016 promises to be the year we see EmTee’s greatness culminate as he already bagged four nominations at the 2016 Metro FM Awards namely Best New Artist, Best Hip Hop Album, Best Music Video and Best Remix.
Fifi Cooper sang the hook on fellow motswakolista, Khuli Chana’s 2013 hit “Mnatebawen”. The 24-year-old Mafikeng rapper released an album called 20FIFI towards the end of 2015. It followed introductory singles like “Kisses” and “Monate C”. Fifi also appeared on the remix to AKA’s “Baddest” remix alongside Gigi Lamayne, Moozle and Rouge. 2016 promises to be great as she has been nominated for Best Newcomer, Best Hip Hop Album and Best Female Album at the 15th Metro FM Awards.
Aewon Wolf, alongside Khuli Chana and Gemini Major, gave us a song to sweat to with “Walking and Dabbing”. The Durban rapper and producer is a prolific collaborator and you may have heard him alongside Okmalumkoolkat (“Kumnandi La”), Mashayabhuqe KaMamba (“Fees Must Fall”), Tribal (“A Week Ago”). Aewon Wolf is one of those artists currently making sure Durban stays on the map when it comes to music.
Melo B Jones
Melo B Jones’s acapella covers of songs such as AKA’s “Run Jozi”, Drake’s “0 to 100”, Chris Brown’s “New Flame” and more, made her an internet hit. She also appeared on Ill Skillz’s single “7s Clash”. The Jozi-based singer and member of experimental band Analog | Division has soulful vocals that offer a breath of fresh air in an industry saturated with effect-enhanced voices. Her music is influenced by jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop and house.
Durban up-and-comer Majozi’s blend of folk, pop, electro and jazz has found its way onto the playlists of national radio stations like 5FM and KFM. His 2015 EP, Mountains, features singles like “Someday”, a song about a son-and-father relationship. Majozi’s voice merges naturally with the instrumentation, after all this self-taught guitarist studied a foundation course on jazz and popular music at the University of Kwazulu Natal.
A favourite from the very start, BigStar Johnson is the winner of 2016’s Vuzu TV rap competition Vuzu Hustle. His greatest attribute is his ability to develop a rich concept and pen down an articulate 16 that puts you in his world. This talent for storytelling is in the mould of a Kendrick Lamar or Yasiin Bey – whom he credits as his role models. His first single, “You Can Get It”, was a hit on Channel O. He followed that up with “Way Up”, a song which further raised his profile as a force to be reckoned with.
Rouge caused a tweetstorm with her verse on AKA’s “Baddest” remix, which featured Fifi Cooper, Moozlie and Gigi Lamayne. Rouge delivered an outstanding verse as she rode the beat effortlessly with her smooth flow. The song recently received a nomination for Best Remix at the 2016 Metro FM awards. “Bua”, her collaboration with Reason, also showcased the emcee’s lyrical skills. Rouge is ready to set the game ablaze with her French-infused raps stemming from her Congolese descent.
Andy Mkosi is a Cape Town-based emcee making moves in the underground rap scene. With her debut EP, iPressure, she delved into her personal life and revealed a young woman dealing with the pressures of life. Her style isn’t mainstream. Her rhymes don’t conform to the trap-laced rap that’s currently flooding the market. Her strength is her raw flow and her ability to pen a fluid storyline over smooth 90s-style beats. You need to hear her new single, “Mna Nawe”. She drops some heavy bars over the viby uptempo beat. The hook is catchy and you may find yourself moving your head back-and-forth.
Manu first came to the public’s attention on music competition Jack Daniel’s Music Scouts, where he went on to be mentored by SA’s biggest game-changers, K.O, DJ Speedsta and Culoe De Song. His 12-track mixtape From Now On, Call Me Manu is solid. Laced with jazz samples, the production offers a beautiful platform for Manu to drop his bars – and man does he drop them! It’s introspective and honest, with a few radio jams. The video for his single “Complicated” is set to drop in the coming months. You can expect to see him and his wavy high-top fade all over music channels.
Cape Town rapper Youngsta has been doing great things, managing to score collaborations with Tumi, Reason, DJ Switch, DJ Ready D and appearing on Showlove’s The All Love album. His move to Jozi last year was a good career move as it exposed him to more industry people. He spat one of the most talked about verses of 2016 on “Way It Go” alongside Nasty C and Tumi. He also released over 20 music videos in 2015 alone, adding to his impressive portfolio of over 20 mixtapes and a few EPs. 2016 could be the year Youngsta really gets to blossom countrywide.
Dope Saint Jude
Dope Saint Jude is both book and street smart. She touches on serious issues like racism, sexism and homophobia in her eloquent raps, and she’s neither conservative nor cheesy about it; take for instance her internet hit “Keep In Touch”. Her trap-influenced “Brown Baas” talks of the struggles of being a brown woman. The Cape Town rapper has managed to build a name for herself without a management team or any specific strategy. Blogs and websites – such as Okayafrica, Africa Is A Country, Dazed Digital and more – just pick her music up, she says.
It’s near impossible to box the Eastern Cape vocalist Msaki’s music in one specific genre. Soul, folk and jazz all co-exist in her simplistic craft. Her pure voice, which doesn’t rely on compression and effects, also sounds great over house beats. You may have heard her on such chart-toppers as “Love Colour Spin” by Mobi Dixon and “Spring Tide” by Revolution, songs which the general public knows her for. Her stripped down “Liwa Lentliziyo” is an essential for your soul. Mad potential here.
At 18, Durban rapper Nasty C is a complete artist; he has shared bars with the best of them, including Tumi, Youngsta and Cassper Nyovest. His Price City mixtape is packed with potent lyricism and audible and impressive flows and cadences. Add a South African Hip Hop Award for Best Newcomer and you have a promising up-and-comer. Looking at his age and skill level, it’s scary to think what monster he will be in the next few years.
Read our profile of the Durban rapper here.