South African hip-hop is dead. Long live South African hip-hop. It’s a mixed bag for the genre this year, with a massive debate on the health of the genre and whether or not it is lying in the dust of oblivion.
As we mentioned in an earlier article, South African hip-hop is very much alive. In this article, we’re going to bring you the top South African hip-hop artists of 2021. Of course, some of these musicians have released music in other genres. But of course, they still remain hip-hop aces.
In no particular order, the top hip-hop South African hip-hop artists of 2021 are:
1. Big Zulu
Big Zulu is not just big in adopted stage name but in his stature – musically and physically. He didn’t release a song with as much impact as his “Mali Eningi” hit of last year, but the “Ichwane Lenyoka” muso is still a top choice in the game of hip hop in South Africa. “Umuzi eSandton” is one memorable release from him this year.
You may think of him as a sword with two equally sharp edges: the songster does hip-hop as well as amapiano and beautifully, too. At some point he had announced that he was ditching hip-hop because he didn’t get the support he wanted. Nevertheless, he remains a sterling voice and the mastermind of the hit “Ke Star (Remix),” featuring Davido.
Sometimes called Reece Young King and The Boy Doing Things, A-Reece didn’t release much this year. But his grip on the industry is such that whatever he drops resonates with the public. His “The 5 Year Plan” song Wordz cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
4. Costa Titch
Meet this younger coaster in the world of South African hip-hop and one you can count on to stitch you up when you’re broken and hankering for a good time. The songster released “Super Soft” this year in collaboration with AKA with whom he also has a joint project.
5. Priddy Ugly
So far, this songster has released two projects this year. The first was just two tracks long. The second was much longer and had an eponymous track dubbed “SOIL,” a big hit on South African radio and a song you can check out without regrets.
With fierce rap bars as exciting as they are charming, Blxckie gained serious attention this year and consolidated that with a deluxe edition of his debut album, earning a big nod from Apple Music. He’s not only one of the top artists this year; he’s one of the artists to watch. His song “Kwenzekile” is one to be remembered.
7. Nasty C
The Zulu Man With Some Power showed that he actually deserves the name of his 2020 album. Interest in the project may have died down, but interest in the rapper as a person and his song “Black and White” (Ft. Ari Lennox) remains. No qualms.
Kiernan “AKA” Forbes may have suffered some “musicus interruptus,” but the songster remains a fierce voice in South African hip-hop. Thanks to the tragedy that visited his household in April, the champ hasn’t released much this year. So we’re sticking with “Finessin’,” which featured his late heartthrob.
9. Yanga Chief
Regarded as one of hip-hop’s major voices in South Africa, Yanga Chief deserves a spot on this list. He’s one musician who easily snaps attention with his verses. It hasn’t been a particularly productive year for the songster, but he easily taps at “Ntoni Na” as one of his finer releases this year.
2021 was one of the controversies for Kwesta as Nota, his former associate at RapLyf, denounced him publicly for embezzling funds belonging to the former record label. The controversy notwithstanding, Kwesta remains a top figure in South African hip-hop this year. His “Kubo” tune with K.O and Bassie is one to be heard.
After keeping fans waiting, Emtee had finally let them have his “Logan” project, a body of work named for one of his sons. The music video for the eponymous track was released recently, and it’s a winner, sans the controversies.
2021 is not exactly the most productive year for K.O. the songster was mostly busy promoting artists signed to his “Skhanda World” record label. Anyway, he still managed to treat fans to “K:HOVA,” which you can check below.
13. Cassper Nyovest
The Family Tree boss has veered into the world of amapiano, irritating some people. At any rate, there’s no denying he remains one of the biggest voices in South African hip-hop. His biggest win this year is “Siyathandana,” a song for which he tapped the vocal resources of Boohle and Abidoza.
14. Khuli Chana
Highly respected for his music and personality, Khuli Chana is one of the stand-out figures of 2021 in South African hip-hop. His “Buyile” song with Tyler ICU, Stino Le Thwenny, and Lady Du is not one to be forgotten in a hurry.
Sjava’s 2021 has not been particularly productive. But then the songster has already distinguished himself in the world of South African hip-hop… And we’re at liberty to pick the closest thing to a new release from him and one that has made an impact, too: “Umcembo.”
He’s a newbie in the world of South African hip-hop, all right, but 25k is already a celebrated figure. His recently released “Pheli Makaveli” album has that winner called “Hustlers Prayer,” featuring A-Reece.
With two new projects scheduled for release later this year, Flvme is very much “aFlvme.” Aflame. The former Ambitiouz Entertainment ace has long distinguished himself as a rapper. It’s too early to pick a song for him, but we have to, so check out “How Long.”
This youngster from Cape Town never gets tired of repping his hood. He’s already distinguished himself in the world of South African rap and been rewarded accordingly. He hasn’t released much this year, so we’re going the “Kleurling” way with him.
Undeniably one of the top female rap figures in South Africa, Rouge has earned her stripes. She elected to go her own way and has made a success of her decision. With nothing much released this year, we’ll pick her “W.A.G” tune with Sarkodie and Youssoupha.
20. Nadia Nakai
We’ve passed the era of “Yass Bitch”, and Nadia Nakai has grown remarkably as an artist. Now she’s ranked among the top female rappers in South Africa. She recently confessed not having been inspired for some time to make music. Still, y’all can vibe with her “Practice” with ex-lover Vic Mensa.
Well, are there other artists that should have made the list?