Presented by sportscene
South Africa boasts a rapidly expanding music industry like no other. Out of the growing industry, arises a unique group of pioneers and visionaries. The musicians that have inspired us in the last year have been endless - but we’ve rounded it off to our top 25 list below.
*This list has been arranged according to alphabetical order.
A-Reece doesn’t say much, but his impact speaks volumes. Having returned from his hiatus with the release of his album Today's Tragedy, Tomorrow's Memory, Reece shot to number one on the Apple Music charts on the day of release.
Having enjoyed what was arguably one of the biggest hits of last year with their single “SummerYoMuthi”, Blaq Diamond has not taken their foot off the gas since they landed on the scene. Their cultural impact earned them the number one spot for the MtvBase “Hottest MCs of 2020” list, and they have made it clear that for them, this is just the beginning.
Rapper Blxckie has skyrocketed into South African superstardom in just 12 months. Fuelled by an engaged and passionate fanbase, Blxckie has perfected the art of tapping into culture to drive success in his music. Boasting the number one album in the country littered with features from Africa’s biggest stars, he is optimally positioned to see a fruitful and lengthy career.
What do you get when you mix cultural impact, Amapiano tunes and a viral dance move that prompted videos across the globe? The rise of DBN GOGO has been incredible to witness. With significant co-signs and more than a few headliner gigs, this South African DJ is proving that she is as talented as she is multifaceted.
Cape Town native Dee Koala has resisted the urge to conform, and takes pride in her authenticity. Hailing from Khayelitsha, the 22-year-old rapper has maintained strong ties with her roots as her artistry has grown in the rest of the country. Dee recently collaborated with fellow hitmakers 031 choppa and Blxckie on “Spazzed” and has taken emerging female rappers like Holy Alpha under her wing to work on music together.
DJ Speedsta is known for his club bangers with South Africa’s superstars, but he has expanded his brand with the launch of SKATE HUB, dedicated to the country’s skating scene. His recent releases include collaborations with Zoocci Coke Dope and Lucasraps, as he continues to uplift South African street culture through all his endeavours.
A few days short of her 21st birthday, singer-songwriter Elaine was tapped as the most streamed female artist on Apple Music in South Africa. Having made waves with her debut EP Elements, the law student went on to seal an international deal with label Columbia Records (which houses none other than Beyonce!) dubbed the “shining star” it all makes sense as Elaine works on her follow up project.
Filah Lah Lah’s ethereal vocals and heart wrenching lyrics on her debut EP Filahsofy made everyone sit up and take note. Stunning visuals for her lead single “This Is” has everyone on the edge of their seat waiting to see what's next.
Focalistic is one of Amapiano’s greatest success stories. The South African artist has been on the scene for quite some time, but had his big break with the release of his chart topping single “Ke Star”. Fast forward to multiple placements in Netflix shows, co-signs from Pdiddy and Virgil Abloh, a Jagermeister brand deal and a successful expansion into West Africa -- Focalistic is taking off and we are all along for the ride.
Gemini Major has made a name for himself as one of South Africa's most prolific producers. As an artist, he has held his own, recently unveiling his alter-ego “Mr. Man'', who is getting ready to cement himself in the ever-growing Afrobeats scene.
18-year-old Joda Kgosi released her debut EP Sour Milk, which resonated as an anthem for Gen Z’s take on love and relationships. She earned a number one spot on the Apple music R&B/Soul chart on the day of release, and has already seen tremendous success through her raw and unfiltered approach to her music.
Kamo Mphela was selected as one of the developing artists under Mr.Eazi’s #Empawa30 program in 2020, and very quickly climbed up the ranks as one of the artists to watch in the burgeoning Amapiano scene across the continent. Her hit record “NKULUNKULU” made her one of the most booked artists of the last year-between South, West and East Africa!
sportscene x PUMA Put Me On winner, Lucasraps, emerged in 2019 as one to watch for South African Hip Hop. His recent signing with Def Jam and his latest single is a confirmation of that, and hints at exciting things to come.
Beyond his superb artistry, Maglera Doeboy is doing his part for South African music and culture. Through his label ONDELIVE, he develops and supports upcoming talent-while acting as the creative director of his own streetwear label, Slice Apparel.
Major League have been one of the biggest pioneers to take Amapiano to the rest of the world. The US-born, SA-born duo has performed everywhere from the UK to the rest of Africa and shows little sign of slowing down anytime soon.
DJ Maphorisa is a truly inspiring success story and is a testament for what patience and seizing your moment at the right time can look like. Having been in the music industry for many years, he dominated at the height of 2020’s Amapiano frenzy through a number of chart-topping releases.
Miss Pru is not only an award winning DJ, but also an accomplished and ambitious businesswoman. A co-owner of a shea butter company, Miss Pru has positioned herself as both an artist and influencer.
Priddy Prince may be one of the youngest in the game, but he has consistently held his own as a musician. Known for his cheeky freestyles and strong lyricism, Priddy Prince has an impressive group of mentors-ranging from Blxckie to Riky Rick.
Priddy Ugly returned with a masterpiece of a sophmore album in the form of Soil. Earning him the cover of the Apple Music “Mzansi Hip-Hop” playlist as well as a Hype Mag cover story, the project was well received by everyone who awaited new music from the rapper.
Reece Madlisa may have had his best year yet. Between multiple SAMA nominations and awards, a Lacoste brand deal and new music, we can barely keep up. The singer-songwriter will go on to enjoy a booked and busy summer season as he prepares to go even harder next year.
Sha Sha has graced all our favourite Amapiano tunes with her angelic tunes. The Zimbabwean-born, South African-based singer has made quite a name for herself in recent years. Her list of achievements in the last year includes but is not limited to multiple SAMA nominations, a feature on The Ebro Darden Show and a placement on BBC 1Xtra.
19-year-old Tyla has had one hell of a year. kicking off with the video for her hit song “Getting Late” in January, Tyla announced signing to Epic Records by June. Currently in studio working with the continent's biggest stars, we can't wait to see what's next for the South African pop star.
SAMA-nominated Vigro Deep cannot be left out of the conversation when we talk about the way Amapiano became the soundtrack for South Africa's youth culture. Having played an instrumental in the making of record breaking project Scorpion Kings, the young DJ and producer is as talented as he is ambitious.
Multi-platinum artist, Zoocci Coke Dope is one to watch when it comes to diversifying his career in music. Between pushing boundaries for his sound, starting his own record label PiFF Audio, planning for the release of Anxiety + and curating the release of the chart-topping album by 25k, Zoocci is a busy guy.
25K returned from a break with the release of his long-awaited album, Makaveli. Anchored by features from A-Reece, Flvme, Zoocci Coke Dope and Emtee, 25K has proven that good things take time, and even better things lie ahead.
Presented by sportscene
Out of South Africa’s growing art, fashion and film industries arises a rapidly expanding creative community complete with a unique group of pioneers, entrepreneurs and visionaries. The range of individuals and collectives that have inspired us this year have been endless – but we’ve rounded it off to our top 15 below.
*This list has been arranged according to alphabetical order.
23-year-old Ama Qamata got her big break as the lead in popular Netflix show Blood and Water. She steps into her moment as actress, fashion icon and budding entrepreneur as the show enters its second season.
Bee Diamondhead has been grafting in the South African creative scene for at least a decade. Having worn many hats from stylist to producer, Bee has comfortably settled into her most dynamic role yet - as creative director on a number of exciting projects. She spread her wings to grace other parts of the continent with her talents, most recently spearheading the creative direction for Omah Lays hit song “Understand” filmed in Accra, Ghana.
You may have been introduced to Bobby Blanco as Boity’s assistant, but this talented entrepreneur has proven that he has so much more to offer. In the last year alone, he confirmed this by starting his own clothing label, getting into presenting and slowly making a name for himself as a creative director.
Clout Cassette arose in the last year as an important platform for youth and street culture. Covering the hottest new artists through their Instagram, the collective has grown to launch an apparel collection of their own.
Bontle Modiselle has more than a few moves up her sleeve. The presenter, dancer and choreographer recently landed the role of lead choreographer for the Netflix show J!VA and continues to diversify her offering as she settles into radio and TV presenting.
Lasizwe has consistently been one of the strongest voices in South African youth culture in the last few years. Fuelled by his comedic online content, Lasizwe has leveraged his popularity to land numerous brand deals and endorsements.
Legends Barber has become the go-to grooming spot for men in the creative industry. Boasting a clientele of South Africa’s top musicians, athletes and entrepreneurs, the business has grown at an exponential rate-recently celebrating the opening of their 50th store.
19-year-old Lerai made history as Africa’s first face for global network Nickelodeon, and has not let up ever since. Hosting sportscene’s Culture Conversations, she has steadily been building partnerships with brands all over the continent.
By far one of the most popular podcasts in the country, Mac G has crafted a name for himself through interviews with South Africa's biggest stars and his unfiltered take on pop culture. It was just announced that his podcast would be taken to TV with Channel O.
Moozlie has successfully engineered a multidimensional career for herself. In her roles as both musician and presenter, she has climbed the ranks as one of the most influential women in the country. She cements her position through continuous releases as well as collaborations across fashion, culture and lifestyle brands.
Rich Mnisi continues his reign as one of the most impactful and culturally significant designers South Africa has seen in recent years. Worn by the likes of Beyonce, Mnisi has continued to put out collections that have raised the bar on the continent, strengthened by collaborations with major brands like Adidas and Johnny Walker.
Slikour on Life has steadily evolved from a digital publication to a national platform supporting and championing South Africa's most talented musicians. With a strong focus on emerging artists, Slikoir has been able to cement himself as one of the most important voices when it comes to music and culture in South Africa.
The Sobering Podcast has raised the bar when it comes to what music media looks like in the country. Hosted by a group of accomplished and charismatic individuals, the podcast goes beneath the surface to uncover the true story behind our favorite artists.
Few things are as inspiring as Uncle Vinny’s hustle. Having been “the kid” on the scene for many years, he started 2021 with a bang by announcing that his role as MTVBase’s latest presenter. He has solidified his place in SA culture with numerous hosting gigs and brand deals, and has gone on the road with the likes of Major League to tour the rest of Africa.
The return of 69fm! under sportscene Studios was welcomed by many in the South African music industry. The platform has become a catalyst for discovering and shining a light on emerging talent, and is hosted by none other than Siya, who is one half of duo Champagne69.