14 South African Artists to Watch Out For In 2020
By Rachel George
Last year saw artists such as Black Coffee, Casper Nyovest, Kwesta, Sho Madjozi, KLY, KLY, Flame and more make their stamp on South Africa’s eclectic music scene of diverse cultures and differ subgenres.
From Ami Faku’s Afro-pop to J Molley’s trap-inspired tracks, street verses from 25K, kasi rap freestyles from Touchline Truth’s among others, be on the lookout for these 14 South African artists in 2020.
Muzi is one of the leading voices behind South Africa’s electric scene. His sound is fused with a combination of Afrobeats, hip hop, kwaito, and futuristic melodies that fall back on traditional South African music elements with hits like ‘Good Vibes Only’ and his black girl magic anthem, ‘Zulu Walker.’ Inspired by DJ powerhouse Black Coffee, the 28-year-old independent artist and producer believe is paying respects to those that paved the way by remixing old African tunes on his YouTube page for #MuziMondays.
Although she was eliminated as a contestant on The Voice South Africa in 2017, songstress Ami Faku has continued to gain the attention of sold-out audiences worldwide. She calls her particular sound a blend of traditional Afro-soul with modern pop or “modern Afro-soul.’ Her debut album, Imali, is a combination of dance-worthy songs like “Mbize” and soft ballads like “Ubuhle Bakho.”
Congolese-born pop star Manu WorldStar’s music has its own aesthetic. You’re guaranteed to hear Manu’s distinct vocal skills, hip hop, and Afrobeats polished with Afro-pop on tracks like on ‘Future Plan,” which you may have heard on Diddy’s Instagram story . You may also recognize the track from his ‘Young African Story’ EP, which also features his breakout single “Nalingi.”
GiGi Lamayne is one of South Africa’s growing number of female MCs. She’s specifically known for her strong lyrical prowess and spitting rhymes with themes of patriarchy, politics, and feminism. Check out the visual for her dance single ‘Fufa’ featuring King Monada.
For Dee Koala, she was drawn to her ability to express herself and the impact of storytelling through hip hop at the tender age of 12-years-old. The Cape Town-based artist has more than proved herself with her impressive freestyles and her ability to rap in both English and South Africa’s native language, IsiXhosa on her debut mixtape, 4 The Khaltsha.’
“The whole tape is for the culture. For the hip hop culture, it represents people of culture and it is the culture of hip hop, it’s part of it. Dee Koala will forever be for the culture,’ she said in an interview.
The self-proclaimed Leader of the Wave, J Molley, describes his sound as futuristic but has a sense of retro-ness to it. Like many new artists of this generation, Jesse Molley, known as received his praise and recognition from Instagram and Soundcloud, garnering over 10,000 plays in one month. Take a listen to his freestyle with Sway Calloway.
Venda pop star Una Rams draws fans in with his electrifying performances by crafting music that serves a deeper purpose with imaginative themes about love, struggle, everyday life, and more on singles like “Girls Like You” and Muzi’s “Chocolate Dreams.” He captures audiences with his Tshivenda lyrics and unique blend of Reggae, Dancehall, Afro-pop, R&B, and trap-inspired tracks.
“Tshivenda is a beautiful language and it brings me joy seeing people of different heritages learning a phrase or two from a song I did,” he said in an interview.
Rising Pretoria rapper and producer, 25K, and his 2017 breakout single “Culture Vulture’ earned him a record with Universal Music Group and a star-studded remix featuring two of South Africa’s hottest rappers, AKA and Emtee.
Artist and member of the African Trap Movement, Sjava, made history performing songs from his recently released sophomore album Umqhele, in front of the sold-out, live Pretoria’s Sun Arena, which honored South African women who were victims of gender-based violence. He recently won a BET Viewers’ Choice Award for Best International Act and earned a spot on the star-studded, Grammy-nominated Black Panther, The Album.
Mass The Difference finally dropped his highly anticipated album ‘Quiet Noise, ” which includes the Cassper Nyovest feature ‘What’s Wrong With Me?’ On the track, he addressed his haters with a smooth, yet raw flow that rocks you back and forth like water.
‘Call whoever, let’s see who they dareing to diss / This niggas average, what the fuck they gon’ say to the kid / That’s the question they ain’t gonna ask.”
Touchline Truth is definitely one to watch. He’s known for his lyrical prowess, powerful delivery, and wordplay. Heard through his music, you will find his passion is to impact the lives of others and himself, while calling attention to an often unhighlighted subgenre of South African hip hop called kasi rap.
When cultures collide, Seba Kaapstad was birthed. The half German, half South African band fuses together different cultural influences and musical styles. Jazz and electronic meets the essence of Africa for a soulful, infectious sound heard from Berlin to Cape Town. Their single ‘Africa’ discusses colorism, questioning the world we live in, and the beauty hidden within Africa.
ASAP Shembe uses traditional South African genres (maskandi and kwaito) to tell his story through music. The influences in his music come from spirituality, celebrated in artists like Mashayabhuqe KaMamba and OkMalumKoolKat and growing up in Vosloorus outside of Johannesburg.
He said, “As South Africans, we don’t necessarily have a specific sound, but we have a feeling. And they reclaimed South African-ness, and that inspired me to be like, ‘Whoa, these guys are really taking this on a global.”
Although he became a medical doctor, Yanga Yaya had every intention of fulfilling his childhood dream of pursuing music. The opportunity came when he was featured on hit single ‘Desire’ by his former classmate and friend Muzi and later his Elements EP.