DJ Switch’s latest single, “Now Or Never”, is a dope posse track. It has had people debating the tightest verse, especially on the remix, which featured 12 emcees. We look back on some of the freshest posse cuts that have come out of South Africa in the past 10 years.
Disclaimer: A posse cut must have at least four rappers, and they must not be part of one recording group.
“Heavy 8” by Zubz, arguably one of the best posse tracks in South Africa, didn’t make the list because it was released in 2004, which was 12 years ago.
Clara T, Payne Killah, Lady Killah, Static Flow, Ghetto Lyricist, Ash, Lubar, Assessa “Ladies Night” (2014)
“Ladies Night” was pure #BlackGirlMagic. Nine up-and-coming rappers gathered for an exhibition of nothing but skill on the mic. The instrumental was ominous, with a heavenly choir, classical strings and a subtle bassline. All emcees brought their A-game. At just above 7,000 YouTube views, “Ladies Night” is one of the most overlooked gems of our era.
DJ Azuhl featuring Youngsta, Ill Skillz, Jean Pierre, EJ Von Lyrik and Ben Caesar “Follow Us Home” (2014)
DJ Azuhl’s “Follow Us Home” is a smoothie where rappers, though gunning for excellence, aren’t necessarily out to outshine each other. All verses are proper, as the Cape Town emcees give their perceptions of the Mother City’s ups and downs. The track is emotional and laidback, pity it was slept on. My favourite verse is by Jimmy Flexx, can’t mess with that flow and that poetry.
Riky Rick featuring DJ Dimplez, Kwesta, Maggz, Ginger Breadman, Nadia Nakai and Okmalumkoolkat “Amantombazane” remix (2014)
This track caused havoc last year. It was entertaining hearing an array of personalities over that eerie beat. From Kid X and Kwesta’s mumble flows, to Maggz’s laidback delivery, Okmalumkoolkat’s simple rhyme schemes and all the way to Ginger Trill’s raw battle-ready scripts, it was a buffet with something for everyone. The track also caused a lot of controversy with Kwesta claiming his verse was the best, and Sizwe Dhlomo arguing to the contrary. Every rapper came through. Well, except, maybe for Nadia Nakai.
Reason featuring Tumi, Ginger Trill, Tumi and Monoea “No Sleep” Remix (2013)
Reason had just lost his son. His verse was bound to be emotional, knowing how unashamed the rapper is of talking about his plights on tracks. He outshone Tumi and Ginger Trill – two of the country’s strongest lyricists, who both dropped strong verses. He did that with a verse that was skillfully delivered and spiced with clever punchlines, similes and metaphors. An extract from his verse: “I’m thinking, how can they doubt me?/ They thinking how can you not sleep?/ I’m thinking the most I spent on my son was a funeral paid with rhyme schemes/ Rest in peace to Lil O/ May God accept his lil soul/ I’ll do my best to accept that he’ll never see me kill shows.”
Slikour featuring Morale, Spaceman, Maggz, ProVerb, N’veigh, Blaklez and Kwesta “Eight” (2007)
On his 2007 album Ventilation Vol. 2, Slikour got Morale, Spaceman, Maggz, ProVerb, N’veigh, Blaklez and Kwesta for an energetic posse cut. It was a punchline fest from some of the country’s skilled rhymers. The song had all rappers spitting eight bar verses – which meant rappers made an effort to waste no time, and got to the point as quickly as they could. A gem worth bumping every now and then.
Miss Pru featuring Emtee, Saudi, Sjava, Fifi Cooper, A-Reece, Benchmarq “Ameni” (2016)
“Ameni” was a showcase of the indie label Ambitious Ent’s roster. While posse tracks usually focus on raps more than anything, “Ameni” is characterised by melodic verses and a sung hook. It’s not a bad thing, as each and every artist showcases their skill in the 16 bars allocated to them on the bass-heavy beat. Emtee and Fifi Cooper ease you into the track with sing-songy flows, before A-Reece, Saudi and Benchmarq spit clean sixteens.
DJ Sliqe featuring Riky Rick, Reason, L-Tido, Kwesta, Nadia Nakai, Flabba “Do Like I Do” Remix (2015)
DJ Sliqe’s combination was predictable – he went for the big guns – Riky Rick, Reason, L-Tido, Kwesta and Nadia Nakai. The only surprise feature was the late Flabba, whose verse is humorous with some tongue-in-cheek lines like “To me every day is like that time of the month, so of course I flow the most”. The track has decent verses, but its catchy beat and hook make sure it doubles as a dancefloor track. Oh and that Kwesta verse is money.
DJ City Lyts featuring Emtee, Fifi Cooper and Benchmarq “Washa” (2016)
“Washa” is apparently the first South African song by a DJ to reach a million YouTube views. It’s not hard to understand why. The track is extremely catchy and easy on the ear. It’s another Ambitious Ent spaz fest – with a solid hook from Emtee, and equally solid verses from Fifi Cooper and the Benchmarq duo. Whether you are looking to dab, or to compare verses, “Washa” gotchu.
Cashtime Fam “Stundee (Shut It Down)” (2012)
It feels like yesterday that Smashis and Kid X were dropping punchlines on The Full Clip show on YFM. “Stundee” was one of the tracks the label used to introduce them, alongside K.O, Ntukza and Ma-E. Both dropped stellar verses. Also, it was on this track where you could see that K.O was slowly morphing into a lyrical heavyweight. The song became an anthem thanks to the popular slang word “stundee” (short for “standard”) which it somehow made popular.
Reason, Mothipa, Ill Skillz, Hyphen, AKA “F U 1 2” (2010)
In 2010, before AKA and Reason became superstars, they were featured alongside fellow underground wordsmiths – Ill Skillz (Uno July and Jimmy Flexx) and Hyphen, in what is one of the most potent posse cuts in South Africa. It was that kind of track where your stature was futile, only your skills mattered. Reason and Jimmy Flexx’s laidback flows, Uno July and Hyphen’s twanging yelps, AKA’s unmatchable vocal projection, Mothipa’s intimidating delivery, all combined over producer pH’s cipher-ready instrumental to rip shit apart. Because they wanted to.
Optical Illusion featuring Reason, X-Rate, Mothipa, Landmarq “Watch What You Say” remix (2013)
Though released in 2013, “Watch What You Say” smelled like the mid-2000s. Optical Illusion, a group which was popular then, didn’t try to fit in with the new school. The producer Battlekat’s uncompromisingly boom-bap production gave the perfect backdrop for like-minded backpack emcees — Reason, X-Rate, Mothipa, Reason, Landmarq — to lay their punchline-heavy scripts, inducing a nostalgia for old school hip-hop acolytes.
Driemanskap featuring Macho and Kanyi “S’phum’eGugs” (2009)
Everything about “Sphum’eGugs” is fitting for a track about the Cape Town ‘hood, Gugulethu — where all rappers on the song are from. From the eardrum-wrecking beat by Planet Earth, to the street-centric Xhosa verses from the Driemanskap quartet and Kanyi, to the lively video that takes you on a tour of Gugs. Macho’s English verse doesn’t sound out of place either. “S’phum’eGugs” is Driemanskap’s most memorable song, because all six rappers featured brought it — you can feel the sweat through your headphones. And that Kanyi verse. Oh man!
Holding image of Ambitious Ent crew, by Sabelo Mkhabela