12 South African Artists That Made Big Breakthrough In 2021

2021 is almost over. This reality will certainly not be a big deal for many artists out there, as they made significant breakthroughs in the music industry in Mzansi. The Rainbow Nation’s music scene might not be as developed as Nigeria’s, but it is still highly competitive, and only a few who emerge manage to make an impact and stay relevant.

In this post, we will share a list of artists who made significant breakthroughs this year. Of course, 12 might be the number, but among the artists are peeps that are best known together, having created stunning jams as a duo.

The list is mixed, covering artists of different genres, from hip hop to amapiano to house. Below, in no particular order, are the 12 South African artists that made a significant breakthrough in 2021.

1. Blxckie

Blxckie is easily one of the most significant breakthrough acts of 2021. The songster has been around for some time but gained serious attention when he released his debut album. “B4NOW” popped at the top of Apple Music South Africa’s albums chart soon after release.

In that compilation, the rapper’s personal story was embedded, his struggle for a place in the sun of Mzansi rap, and how he’s closer to getting there than the friend he started with. The success of the project encouraged the songster to release a deluxe edition.

2. Boohle

Unlike Blxckie, who came from the world of rap/ hip hop, Boohle, a DJ and producer, came from the world of amapiano. She’s seen as one of the notable figures in the piano genre.

Thanks to her sterling voice and fierce creative energy, she’s high in demand as a collaborator. Her “Siyathandana” song is not one to be forgotten in a hurry. The politics of that song is something we would dwell on, though.

3. Young Stunna

Young Stunna is another voice from the piano world in South Africa. Young in age and even younger on the music scene, the songster has managed to stay relevant since he popped into the world of Mzansi music. He’s worked with several industry notables, including Kabza De Small.

4. Reece Madlisa & Zuma

It’s hard to mention Reece Madlisa without somehow including the name Zuma. These two friends are also partners in amapiano progress. They have released several works together and been co-opted together.

With the quality of their releases so far, it is very easy to see what they made this list.

5. Pabi Cooper

Pabi Cooper also has 2021 as her big year. Her career didn’t exactly start this year, but in 2021, she gained profound resonance as an artist and captured the attention of many music lovers in the Rainbow Nation.

While she’s got a couple of jams to her name, “Isiphithiphithi” especially stands her out. Interestingly that song featured one of the artists who made our list, Reece Madlisa, as well as Busta929 and Joocy.

6. Mellow & Sleazy

Their vibe might be mellow, but there’s undoubtedly nothing sleazy about these two pals. The play on adopted stage name aside, Mellow and Sleazy are among the South African musicians who made a significant breakthrough this year.

It’s another win for amapiano on this list, as Mellow & Sleazy are among those pushing the genre as we speak. While the two have several songs already, their freestyle with DJ Maphorisa is not one to be forgotten in a hurry.

7. Lucasraps

Lucasraps is a rapper to remember. This newbie on the rap universe in South Africa dropped out of school to pursue his rap dreams. Looking back, it’s not a decision he regrets.

This year has been eventful for him in that it also marked his signing to Def Jam Africa Recordings.

8. Felo Le Tee

Felo Le Tee is one fine fellow and one of the artists who managed to break through this year. Although, of course, the songster didn’t manifest on the music scene this year, 2021 happens to be the year of his most incredible resonance so far.

His “66” song might send you spinning 66 degrees on the dance floor. He’s part of South Africa’s amapiano universe.

9. Sdala B & Paige

Sdala B & Paige are on a brilliant collaborative streak. The pair has been around for some time, but 2021 is easily the year they broke through in the music industry in Mzansi.

They had released a Zulu version of Makhadzi’s “Ghanama,” as well as the soul-warming “Ngiyazifela Ngawe.”


Sino Msolo has got a voice that rings in your head long after you are done listening to his songs. The El World Music ace is among the breakthrough acts this year and one you can comfortably retain on your playlist and for a long time, too. His creative energy is so potent that he’s among the in-demand musos out there.

11. Nkosazana Daughter

Nkosazana Daughter’s daughter is somebody’s daughter. But, that obvious joke aside, this songstress was all shades of magical this year. Whether as a guest on the works of other artists or on her own number, Nkosazana Daughter brings you nothing short of excellent bars.

12. Sir Trill

This “Sir” is not a knight of any order. What you have here is just a stage name. But that’s by the way. Sir Trill is one of the piano “kids” out there. Although he was called out by a presenter a month back for not showing up for an interview because it was “too early,” that does not detract from the fact that he’s one of the breakthrough acts this year.

He had worked with the Mbere brothers (Major League DJz) in one of their piano mixes, as well as assisted Dlala Thukzin on “Phuze (Remix,)” a house hit that also featured Mpura and Zaba.

From the list, it is clear amapiano takes the lead. And for fans of that genre, it is one more reason to state that piano is the in-thing in Mzansi. Hopefully, it doesn’t encourage the narrative that hip hop is dead in the Rainbow Nation.

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