South Africa’s hip-hop industry has been on the rise since the days of mid-90s crew Prophets of Da City, the country’s first major hip-hop group. Today, SA is enjoying a golden era of hip-hop, celebrating the freshest and realest MCs in the country. Here we’ve compiled a list of the nation’s top current MCs in the limelight, while remembering the birth of hip-hop in South Africa and paying homage to the great game-changers who created and cleared a path for hip-hop to become what it is today in Mzansi (The South).
MCs such as Amu, SPEX, Pitch Black Afro, HHP and groups such as Skwatta Kamp and H20, as well as contributors like Lance Stehr—who started South Africa’s first hip-hop label, Ghetto Ruff Records—all played major roles in putting South African hip-hop on the map and inspiring the new artists of today. With the credit given where it’s certainly due, it’s clear that the competition between SA’s MCs is thick and can continually be debated upon, but here’s the list of XXL‘s top 10 finest MCs in South Africa.
Being called the “Prince of SA Rap” is just one of the few things this 25-year-old rapper has managed to achieve in an extremely short period of time. Kiernan Forbes, known to many as AKA, has taken the SA hip-hop scene by storm, after choosing to take on a solo career and parting with his former group Entity. Joints such as Victory Lap and Jealousy have managed to seal the rapper’s rise to fame. With the current release of his new collaborative single with Da L.E.S, Kontrol (music video below), the “Prince” of SA hip-hop is destined for great things.
2. Khuli Chana
Credited for taking Motswako music to the next level, this famous South African rapper has been in the game for quite a while, and is regarded as one of the country’s musical treasures. The Motswako originator has always managed to produce fresh music, highlighted by tracks such as Freshe, No More Hunger and Tswa Daar—all of which have proved as testimonials to Khuli Chana’s hype.
Being no stranger to the SA hip hop scene, this MC started out competing in rap battles back in the day and has since grown to become a mainstream success. Having released his Audio 3D album in 2012, the recently signed Motif Records artist is deadly on the mic and continues to produce classic music for all to hear.
One of South Africa's most respected MCs, Proverb started rapping in 1999 and has since kept true to his music and lyrics. After a long silence in the game, he has finally dropped his much-anticipated new album FourthWrite, which definitely proves that he's still got what it takes to shine.
Arguably South Africa's breakout rapper of 2011, L-Tido has managed to keep his street cred up. He’s continued to grind on features and has produces smashes for other artistes, consistently keeping him in the spotlight.