Forty-seven years since its conception, Hip-Hop has indubitably become the number one pop culture among the South African youth. South African Hip-Hop has grown to become a dominant force in mainstream South African music. The last three decades have seen it grow from being a form of political expression in its birth place Cape Town
SA Hip-Hop was unapologetic of its existence, finding its own voice and identity through Motswako, Kasi rap, spaza, and later through Skhanda. The year 2012 saw the re-rise of women rappers in SA Hip-Hop , a baton that moved from rappers Yo Girls to Goddessa was now in the hands of meticulous MCs such as Ms. Nthabi, and Kanyi Mavi.
There have always been women in SA Hip-Hop from way back in the ’80s when Hip-Hop first got to this country. The crew Yo Girls from Cape Town had eight members. SA Hip-Hop is moving millions across the African continent, it has found its own identity and keeps morphing, as any growing thing should. We seeing big brands investing thousand and even in million into the culture.
Shifting to 2020 SA Hip-Hop is still growing with more females taking there right place in the culture so as we celebrate Women’s Month we also celebrate the women in Hip-Hop who have shaped our culture, our way of thinking, and society. First of its kind in the culture Hip-Hop 411 introduces the annual hottest females in SA Hip-Hop for 2020.
- Dope Saint Jude:
Catherine St Jude Pretorious aka Dope Saint Jude originates from Cape Town. After graduating in political sciences and founding South Africa’s first drag-king group, this feminist activist studied sound production and eventually released her first solo project two years ago, Reimagine. She defines herself as a poetess has released her second EP, Resilient, ranging between pop and Hip-Hop. Recorded and produced in London by Pete “Boxta” Martin and Dantae Johnson, this record sees Dope Saint Jude tackle her favourite issues with a sharp flow: social, racial and sexual equality. Don’t trust the pictures in which she plays the bad boy. Dope Saint Jude may well be this committed and determined young woman, ready to relay the words of the voiceless communities, she also is this radiant person whose only smile could abolish all the divisions that are still spoiling South Africa. After having fired MaMA Festival’s audience, she played at Africolor. She grew up in post-apartheid South Africa,. Her songs are a vehicle for her experiences, and in a world oversaturated with discourse around identity politics, she manages to imbue her work with a radical newness that is rare in today’s music industry. She has steadily kept her eyes transfixed towards the future imagining alternative narratives for marginalised groups of people (“most people explore racial oppression in hip hop, but why don’t we explore gender or queerness?” she’s previously stated in an interview); creating lanes where there previously were none (her Drag King troupe BrosB4Hoes is the first documented in South Africa); and wreaking havoc on stage, from one show to the next, using her elaborate antics as she takes the number 10 spot.
Coming in at Number 9.
- FiFi Copper
Refilwe Boingotlo Moeketsi (born 27 October 1991), known professionally as Fifi Cooper is a South African recording artist. Fifi Cooper started her music career as an R&B singer before her musical versatility saw her release her breakthrough rap single “Chechela Morago” in 2010. In 2015, she released her award-winning debut studio album 20FIFI. In February Fifi spoke out about leaving Ambitiouz Entertainment, telling DRUM her decision was due to financial problems and not personal issues.
The rapper went on to claim that while she worked really hard she was not making any money under the label, adding that her relationship with CEO Kgosi Mahumapelo was non-existent. Cooper, who is happy that the sad chapter has been closed, is back in the game with her second album Take Me Back. The 21-track album was officially under her label MoCooper Records. Cooper is able to work with all musicians she wanted to work with like Zola 7, Nomuzi Mabena, and vocalist Thabsie. She says this time she is controlling everything – from beats to producers. Cooper feels that her second offering is balanced and exposes her maturity as a songwriter and vocalist.
Coming in at number 8
- Kanyi Mavi
Kanyi is a Cape Town based Xhosa lyricist/emcee/wordsmith/rapper. She entered the scene in 2002 rapping in local open mic sets. The Hip-hop activist poet whose lyrics are simultaneously her loud speaker and weaponry. She’s been mentored by the like of Simphiwe Dana and Judith Sephuma. As lead vocalist with the multiracial Cape fusion group Black South Easter, she successfully crossed ethno-cultural bridges, performing to enraptured audiences at blues and rock festivals throughout Southern Africa. Despite the success of her launch Mavi still struggles to promote her and even secure gigs. Mavi debut album was called Intombi Zifikile in homage to Mavi’s grandmother, who single-handedly raised 11 children, nine of whom were girls. In her latest song, Kanyi Mavi is whipped. Her love for the man who stole her heart is driving her to pay amalobolo. A progressive move from Kanyi as that’s normally the man’s role in most African cultures.
Kanyi has been promising an EP for several years since the release of the single “Ngqangqa” which was released in 2017 accompanied by visuals. The project she stated was supposed to be produced by Ted Krotkiewski, a producer from Sweden. He produced the single “Andizenzi” by Kanyi, which she released in 2016. The project is five-songs long and featured appearances from Blaklez, Kritsi Ye Spaza, Prof.Ceaz and Kanyi’s long-time producer and collaborator Khosh.
Coming in at number 7
- Dee Koala
South African hip-hop superstar Riky Rick did what Riky does: he introduced Dee Koala, an up-and-coming rapper from Cape Town towards the end of his set. A day after the performance, Dee Koala is holed up in a hotel room with fellow rapper Amilca Mezarati and their manager Ta Ledza. She’s lethargic, but she’s present. She’s having chicken and a Black Label ngud’.
Just like many before her, Dee started rapping in English. The 20-year-old MC started out as a poet in primary school. The magic moment came sometime in high school.
On her decision to rap in her language, she says: “I was like I don’t wanna sound like everyone else. All my other friends who are rapping, what’s gonna set me apart from them? I needed that thing that would set me apart from just being female. So I did that, and the rest is history.” She has since recorded and released songs with other new age Cape Town hip-hop artists and crews such as 9Ether, FLVK, KHALIFONICATION, LuRah and of course Amilca, among others.
She’s also an Adidas ambassador and while wearing those sneakers, Dee Koala is steadily climbing up the industry ladder. Dee Koala gives a snapshot of her character in her recently-released debut album 4 the Khaltsha. In the project’s 14 songs, the young rapper takes her listener to the streets of Cape Town’s biggest township Khayelitsha (also known as Kaltsha), where she hails from. Dee Koala performs regularly in Joburg and always comes up in national hip-hop conversations, which is a rarity for Cape Town Hip-Hop artists.
Coming in at number 6
- Yugen Blakrok
Yugen Blakrok has quietly created herself a lane only she occupies locally. By sticking to an old-school Hip-Hop sound, she’s managed to move her music forward. There exists a force in local hip-hop that is seldom spoken about but, when it is, the name of this force is highly regarded and perhaps revered. In a time of synthetic stanzas and uninspired production, artists with a proclivity for going against the grain hardly occupy the limelight.
Artists of this nature seek not to dominate the charts and get features from mediocre rappers from the US.
No, artists of this calibre seek to advance the sacred street art of spitting to a new plateau. Yugen says her work has been well received internationally. “The reception worldwide has been amazing, including from non hip-hop fans and non-English speakers. It really cements the fact that music is a universal language.”
Artists like Jozia and Nakhane are celebrated vigorously overseas but not so much locally – and Yugen agrees she falls into this grouping. There’s a stronger appreciation for the arts in general here; the industry is bigger and independent artists fare much better. Folks are really big on hip-hop culture and lyricism; I guess it just works for my style. In 2018 her star elevated to the heights of Hollywood when she appeared on the acclaimed Black Panther soundtrack. She featured on a track called Opps with US rapper and west coast representative Vince Staples, as well as Kendrick Lamar, who produced the album. The experience for her was something she could not have imagined.
Coming in at number 5
- Gigi Lamayne
Born Genesis Gabriella Tina Manney, Gigi Lamayne is a 26-year-old South African award- winning extraordinaire who has taken the country by storm with her charismatic stage presence, versatility and remarkably mature lyrical abilities. Rapper, Singer, song-writer and Poet all describe this multi-facet artist.
In an open mic interview from the comfort of her home, local rapper Gigi LaMayne spoke to SA Hip Hop Daily. “I’m excited about this ’cos I haven’t been online for a while. We get to talk about really cool things – lots of up-and-coming projects,” she said.
Initially I wanted to learn how to record myself and I’ve managed to do that,” she shared. “I’m trying to be this powerhouse that can do a lot of stuff on her own.”
She said she’s tired of the conversations surrounding what female rappers wear and their downfalls that are unrelated to their music. She said things will never progress if inclusiveness is left out of the picture. The rapper also collaborated with Mbongeni Ngema on the remake of Freedom is Coming Tomorrow, a song from the much-loved Sarafina soundtrack. “I’m repping such a minority already and I need to pull up,” she said, speaking about how she’s one of two female artists featured on the track.
Gigi said she was shocked when the legendary songwriter asked her to work on the song as she used to listen to him growing up. “We put in a lot of work with that song and it’s doing really well,” she said while thanking everyone who worked on the project.
he “Gigi Gang Show 2020” debuts its first instalment, “Pink Views” on August 27 on all her digital platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Lamayne’s entry into the digital space is due to the global pandemic.
The “Gigi Gang Show 2020” is aimed at engaging, educating, and entertaining young people in the comfort of their homes in an effort to encourage them to stay safe at home.
Coming in at number 4
Boitumelo Thulo, popularly known as Boity, is a South African television personality, rapper, actress, businesswoman and model. The “Bakae” hitmaker has kept a low profile with her love life since her public split from fellow rapper Cassper Nyovest many years ago. She is one of the hottest personalities in the country and is breaking out as a Hip-Hop star. After impressing the industry with her breakout singles Wuz Dat and Bakae, multi-talented media personality and rapper Boity Thulo, re – announcing herself as the Queen of the rap game with her self-assured single Own Your Throne. Proudly proclaiming her comfort in the rap -game, Boity keeps hitting higher bars with every single that she releases. This greatly keeps her fans on their toes as they expect nothing but the best and this Queen never disappoints. The new DefJam Africa signee echoes what everyone needs to hear from this single while fighting this global pandemic and that is “Hard Times Never Last “.We are definitely in for a stupendous journey with this Queen who Owns Her Throne. Boity and Reason have released their highly anticipated gospel track “Satan o Wele” and people are delighted. Fans knew that the track would be a banger when they were treated to a sneak peek last month. Social media users have suggested that thanks to Boity, Reason will have his first hit single.
Coming in at number 3
- No Moozlie
Nomuzi Mabena, famously known as Moozlie is a South African rapper and television presenter. Mabena is a well-known host, fashion icon and TV personality from Johannesburg. In 2014, she was nominated for the Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” award by its readers.
She grew up in Rynfield, Benoni, a small suburb in the East Rand, Johannesburg. She was raised by her mom and dad and she also has an older sister. Nomuzi’s first big break came in the form of a VJ job,
After the independent release of her debut album “VICTORY”, the multi-talented Moozlie is back with a brand new single to get fans going! After debuting the song on the #CastleLiteUnlocks YouTube platform hosted by world-renowned hip hop head Sway, they have taken to social media to share their excitement for the new music.
The single, appropriately titled “I’m A Star” was produced by highly respected SA Hip Hop artist & producer Zoocci Coke Dope. T
Coming in at number 2
Deko Barbara-Jessica Wedi (born 13 September 1992), professionally known as Rouge is a new school rapper, Hip-hop artist and author from Pretoria, South Africa.
Rouge a first generation South African, of Congolese heritage, was born and raised in Pretoria. She always dreamt of becoming a performer and started singing at the age of 6, songwriting at the age of 12 and rapping at the age of 19.
In December 2014, ROUGE released her debut single entitled ‘Party’ to critical acclaim, as it reached the #1 spot on the highly popular 5FM hip hop show ‘The Stir Up’. It also garnered attention on Yarona FM in Botswana, which saw the single being placed on high rotation on various radio stations across Africa. The song was also later play listed on the popular South African soap Rhythm City.
ROUGE was also featured on rapper “AKA”s Baddest Remix, alongside Fifi Cooper, Moozlie and Gigi Lamayne, a song they also performed at the prestigious MetroFM Awards in February 2016.
In 2017 she dropped The New Era Sessions. The New Era Sessions is a great listen and succeeded on so many levels. It was a strong idea backed by a technically flawless performance and has tons of replay value. It’s amazing as a debut, and a sign that better is to come. As “Sheba Ngwan’O” encourages us, we’ll be keeping a lookout for bigger things from Rouge.
Coming in at number 1
- Nadia Nakai
Nakai was born in South Africa in 18 May 1990 Her father is South African and her mother is Zimbabwean. She studied Marketing, Communication, and Media Studies at Monash University, Johannesburg. Nadia Nakai’s career officially began after Nazizi mentored her in Kenya. It was then that she decided to start rapping professionally. She was the first female rapper to win e.tv’s Shiz Niz’ Mixtape 101 Competition. This was quite a record at the time and is one of her career highlights. In September 2013, Nadia released her first single- Like Me under Sid Records. She was then featured on Amantombazane Remix and worked with Ice Prince on Saka Wena after she performed at the Chanel O music video awards. In the period between 2013 and 2018, she has continued to create hit singles. In 2018, Nadia got the rare opportunity to rap for Sway Calloway who has worked with big acts on the continent such as Nasty C and Cassper Nyovest. Nadia had been selected to be a red carpet host for MTV Africa awards that were held in Bilbao Spain. The Nadia Nakai album is set to drop in 2019 after she broke yet another record by being the first female rapper in Mzansi to perform at South by South West. Nadia released two more songs under the label before signing with Cassper Nyovest’s Family Tree. Cassper helped Nadia drop her biggest hit to date, Naaa Mean in 2017. She has collaborated with artists such as Riky Rick, Gemini Major and Ice Prince. Six years after releasing her first single, Nadia finally dropped her highly anticipated debut album, Nadia Naked in June 2019. The offering features some of the biggest names in Africa including Khuli Chana, Ycee, Lady Zamar, Tshego, Sio and of course Casper Nyovest. The latest Nadia Nakai car (bought in 2017) is an Audi A3 which the rapper flaunted on her social media. Nadia Nakai music can be found on her YouTube page where the artist shares her music and fresh content for her fans. The Nadia Nakai YouTube page has 8,462 subscribers with its highest performing video being Naa Meaan (featuring Cassper Nyovest) at 1.2 million views as of April 2019. While some publications claim Nadia Nakai’s net worth is around R11.8 million, it’s unclear how much the star is worth. But between her rap career, her work as a social media influencer and several endorsement deals, including Reebok and Redbat, Nadia is worth a pretty penny. She is also a voice-over artist and TV presenter. Nadia hosted the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards red carpet. She is also a co-host on Yo! MTV Raps Africa. Nadia Nakai’s outfits sometimes get more attention than her music. The rapper is known to wear racy outfits, which often reveal a whole lot of skin. All hell broke loose in June 2019 when she wore a snakeskin leotard during her Castle Lite Unlocks performance. “I can’t be the only one who thinks Nadia Nakai is using her booty to stay relevant,” one Twitter user wrote.