The growth of local hip hop artists in South Africa has ushered in the the growth of the scene as a whole. Unlike back in the day when you had to do more than rap to survive, being a good rapper has become a sustainable career now. Why the emphasis on “good”? Because there has been a growing number of rappers who have been able to make their mark in the game through just dropping the hottest music every year and spitting the dopest verses.
In my last piece I discussed the top 3 local hip hop movements to look out for this summer. This time, I decided to sit down and recap some of the hottest verses that have made us go ape sh** in 2014.
Note: This is my opinion and the following list is not in any particular order.
This song dropped earlier this year as the 4th single off AKA’s sophomore album LEVELS and managed to cause some major waves. The streets of Jozi were buzzing (literally, the streets were a buzz when he shot the video at the iconic Mandela Bridge) and the rest of South Africa was rapping along to the catchy hook. Not only was this a collaboration between two SA rap heavyweights, K.O’s verse has been hailed as verse of the year. Keeping with the theme of AKA’s album, K.O’s verse proved that there are LEVELS to this rap thing.
“My flow is so hazardous , mfana’kithi can nobody handle this I annihilate all my competition so there’s no further challengers”
The opening line already had me like “WTF just happened?” His delivery and the underlying sting behind each and every word was absolutely flawless. The way he chopped the beat with each line he threw just gave his first few lines that extra punch.
“What’s wrong with these amateurs? On the internet posting some messages. Next thing you know your career is over. Ntwana… Over some characters?!”
This line relates to the rumours that were flying around on Twitter that he was HIV positive. Besides the fact that K.O took an HIV test and posted the picture on Instagram to prove he was not HIV positive, the person who started the rumor will have the reply immortalized in the perfect verse over a dope beat. They got one of the best off-Twitter replies ever. It’s also a smart play on the word ‘character’, Twitter characters can be either the actual words or the personas people create on there. Get it?
Ice Prince has to be one of Africa’s biggest hip hop stars. He has toured the world, blessing the international scene with his music. He recently dropped a remix to his popular song The N Word and featured another dude who is fast becoming one of Africa’s biggest rappers – AKA.
He also got D’Banj’s former producer Don Jazzy (who also worked on Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne album) to produce the track. Before I even quote lines from the song, I want to ask you to name any other South African rapper that has jumped on a Don Jazzy beat and killed it. I’ll wait.
“Look how I put my city on the world map, It’s gon’ take more than good luck to get your girl back”.
This line alone says a lot about how much AKA has accomplished thus far. Besides the fact that your girl is also going crazy over his verses, he’s not lying about putting SA hip hop on another scale, especially with this feature.
“F**k a hashtag, f**k a retweet, you never block me in the street. I’m on a mean streak. Please leave me to my devices, get my cake up with Don Jazzy and Ice Prince. As-salaam alaikum, Wa alaikum assalaam, let’s get this paper. Drop a bomb like I’m Sadaam, you Ronald Regan”.
The instant switch of flows once he starts murking the verse word for word on this Don Jazzy beat is beyond exceptional. It’s GODLY. His delivery and the two-step-flow that he uses is so slick you can’t help but nod your head. He is obviously making a statement that his career is at it’s peak and that he’s out there putting in work with guys like Don himself while getting that paper.
Buye! AKA dropped a bomb with this verse no lie!
Originally produced by Psyfo, this song is DJ Speedsta’s 3rd single off his upcoming debut album. Both the production and artist selection on the song are on point. The one artist that stood head and shoulders above the rest on this song has to be Ma-E.
“Kwangen’inkakha, kwa shuba iweather ya guquka. Kwa qwala amafu, imali ya phenduk’ imvula”
The tone and delivery of this verse sounds effortless, his opening lines also sets the tempo of the song (which is turning up) and his flow. His rhymes scheme is not too complex, one can easily sing along and his metaphors are relatable. When you see him in the video all he’s saying just makes sense.
“Ngyak’tshela s’ya gula, eish ngyak’tshela s’ya gula. Bazo sala babuza, ngi qoke imphahla zok’dura. That’s why ba qwala nge pantsula”.
After he switches up the flow his confidences and the sting of his delivery for his closing line reassured me that Ma-E threw the dopest verse on the song – Dare I say, the dopest verse of 2014 thus far from him.
G.O.O.D Music recording artist CyHi The Prince (who is one of Kanye West’s protégés) called up Reason, one of SA’s most prolific lyricists, to feature on the remix of a song titled Mandela, which is a tribute to the struggle hero taken off his Black Hystori Project Mixtape. CyHi dropped the track on Mandela Day this year.
“I feel like David Motsamayi, my original self is tryna hide, cause the system itself ain’t really right. All the realest in the world never stay alive”.
This line immediately explains the main reason why this verse is so important (no pun intended). Never mind the fact that it was a great display of lyricism. For all those who didn’t know, David Motsamayi was the alias Nelson Mandela used when he moved to a farm during the apartheid era to hide away from police. Reason feels as though he has to hide his true self due to the sad state of the game
“God body in the hearin’ now hear me out, lemme tell you what I’m here about, get ‘em out with every word you’re hearin’ out my mouth”.
Which is exactly what Reason did with this verse! He got everyone out. He had everyone listening to this verse feeding off the knowledge he was throwing while his flow and delivery on this song was impeccable.
Ricky Rick – Amantombazane (ft Maggz, Trilly, Da Kid X, Kwesta, Nadia Nakai, & OKMALUMKOOLKAT).
This was one of SA’s biggest songs and once the remix dropped, it became twice as massive. Of the long list of features, only one verse stood out to me. Kid X.
“Sphil’ impilo, foreign mami, Filipino, still illegal. No papers, uzo’ghax’ uleft, udlali’zaza, usik’phiko. Ngi’fik ekasi, ngi’tshintsh’ isimo, ngingu bhut’madlisa.”
I’d like to believe that I’m not the only one who nods their head back and forth in sync with X’s flow on this verse. His calmness and smooth delivery on each bar just tones everything down. The picture he paints of the lifestyle he is referring to is totally clear when you listen to the verse.
“Scouting cougars in the sea notes, designer suits got chips and sea notes, feeling like Fally Ipupa kiss my ego.”
X’s ego is warranted at this point in his career. He has to be one SA’s most featured rappers. Kwesta also delivers a nice verse, the problem is X murked that flow so hard that it sounded like Kwesta was just finishing off what Da Kid X said. Actually, when you listen to the track, listen to the flow first when you play this song. It’s amazing what a great deliverance of flow can do for a verse.
That’s MY top 5 so far, let’s hear what the summer will bring.