2016 brought us melodic trap music, known as trapsoul (named after American singer Bryson Tiller’s album of the same name). South Africa, not to be left behind, has also produced a few trapsoul singers who are holding it down. Here are a few you definitely need on your playlist:
Tellaman doesn’t dab, he does the Madiba dance. He’s mellow with the words like Paulo Coelho, as he declares on DJ Speedsta’s “Mayo”. This Durban-based singer has crooned alongside your favourite rappers like Kwesta, Okmalumkoolkat, Nasty C (try imagining Bad Hair without Tella). He released an impressive EP called Mind Vs Heart where he sings on mellow trap beats and dancefloor-ready house bangers. Can this guy blow up in 2017, please?
Refi Sings is a singer and songwriter based in Durban. Her singing style has a dancehall influence and she also raps. On the rapper Chad Da Don’s “The Child that Survived”, she channels her inner Rihanna for a solid hook. She appeared on the rapper Priddy Ugly’s You Don’t Know Me Yet EP, flexing her dancehall skills. Not only is she dope, but she’s also working with producer Whichi 1080, one of the most exciting trap producers out now. What a time.
You might know Sjava from Ambitiouz Ent hits such as “Vura” and “Ameni”. His album Isina Muva is one of the greatest releases of the year. He combines trap with mbhaqanga. His love songs will make even the coldest hearts melt. It’s the personality in his voice and the way he drags his syllables that add to the swagger this guy possesses. Oh, and he can also rap really well.
Masandi is signed to Cashtime Life, the indie label headed by the rapper K.O. He appeared on the rapper’s smash hit “One Time” from his 2014 gold-selling album Skhanda Republic. He also appeared on labelmate Ma-E’s Township Counsellor album. Masandi’s solo stuff is equally impressive. He adds a South African flavour to his music by mixing English with Zulu and Tsotsi Taal, and he sings without autotune. Dear Cashtime Life, can we get a full length Masandi album in 2017, please?
Shelton Forbez is a familiar face to couch potatoes, he’s a Vuzu presenter. He also acts and dances. This year, he pulled out another trick off his sleeve when he released his single, “Smoke”. Produced by one of the most exciting producers right now, Whichi 1080, the beat bangs hard, with some airy synths that give the song a tranquil feel, especially mixed with his lightly autotuned vocals. His presenting and dancing are dope, but we hope to hear more singles, and eventually a full project. In 2017, maybe?
Durban’s Lastee is part of Select Play, the same label as Tellaman. His 10-track EP Radar is one to add to your collection. A notable guest on the project is Tumi Molekane (now called Stogie T) on the song “Illusions”. Lastee mixes English with Zulu, and sounds dope whether or not he uses autotune. Listen to the song “Erykah” from Radar to hear what I’m talking about. His biggest song to date is “Ring of Lies”, a collaboration with Durban rappers, Duncan and Ngane. He also appears on Stogie T’s latest album.
KLY, who is based in Jozi, released his full-length EP Klymax a few months ago. The EP, which is one of the strongest releases of the year, features high-profile guests like Riky Rick, Priddy Ugly and DJ Buckz. The producer Whichi 1080’s eardrum-wrecking basslines and filtered synthesisers make for a perfect smoky environment for KLY’s vocals to creep through. His latest single, “Too Much”, featuring Riky Rick just got the visual treatment, and deservedly so.
What other dope South African trapsoul singers do we need in our lives before the end of 2016? Let us know in the comments section, below.