Hip-hop is always changing. While the melodic style of rapping, which is now a standard in hip-hop, has led to a generation of innovative artists who aren’t bounded by the traditional rules of rap, hip-hop fans will never tire of hearing rappers who rely mostly on their raps to catch the listener’s attention.
If you are a fan of clever wordplay, impressive cadences and flows and the raw expression of rappity rap, then South Africa always has something for you. Such rappers may not be on the roster of major and influential indie labels, but they exist and are releasing music regularly.
From the clinical raps of Ginger Trill to the playful delivery of SimmySimmyNya, and everything in between, we bring you a list of six South African rap albums and EPs for your headphones.
Editor’s note: This list is in no particular order.
Ginger Trill “From Potch With Love”
Ginger Trill is your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper. His latest release From Potch With Love is yet another demonstration of his proficiency as a lyricist. Lines from FPWL can be as simple as “N*ggas been dying for clout, I’m living proof“or as complex as “I’m fly as a carpet, high as Alladin/ My b*tch look like Jazmin, I wish that you would/ My genie just lamping, I make it look good.” Trill pays homage to some of the emcees that inspire him such as Westside Gunn who he channels on “Hoop Dream$” and Nas whose beat for “The World is Yours” he refurbishes on “Its Yourz”. From Potch With Love is a showy display of skill from one of the country’s most talented wordsmiths who’s always a pleasure to listen to.
JimmyWiz “ATJ Lost Files”
Don’t get discouraged by the fact that the songs from ATJ Lost Files were left off from JimmyWiz’ debut album Accordin to Jim (2019), as they form a satisfying listening. JimmyWiz raps intimidatingly on “Forty Eigth” as he expresses his scorn for the game currently. Over a rambling bassline and 808s, he teams up with Torch Khali for self-reassuring raps on “Rock Star”. “Glory” sees the East Rand lyricist exchange raps with King Caddy and Teardrop over a dusty sample and a boom bap rhythm while he teams up with vocalist Gugu Zwane for the soulful and introspective “Finally”. JimmyWiz’ authoritative flow commands the listener’s attention across all four songs and the guests ensure a diverse listening experience.
Quickfass Cass “Rookie Of The Year”
Quickfass Cass isn’t just a convincing lyricist, but he overtly represents street-centric rap. Most of the beats on Rookie Of The Year sound luxurious with textured basslines, soulful keys and spacy pads—a perfect production choice for a subject matter consisting of ambitious raps and storytelling. Rookie Of The Year is a collection of songs that sound great together and do the job of letting you into Quickfass’ mind and how he makes sense of the world around him. An impressive guestlist which consists of the late PRO, Stogie T, Emtee and a few others, gives Rookie Of The Year enough weight to stand alongside this year’s major releases.
SimmySimmyNya “Broken Crayons Still Colour 2: Not Your Average”
The title for SimmySimmyNya’s latest release is fitting. In the project, the emcee raps about the challenges of adulthood and wanting the best for himself and his career. At times he may sound downcast, but his raps gel perfectly with the jazz-influenced production for a colourful listen teeming with character and emotion. Broken Crayons Still Colour 2 is a collection of honest songs in which the rapper reveals his vulnerabilities and relives some cardinal moments of his life. SimmySimmyNya still manages to sound playful while rapping about issues that don’t sit well with him—a good example is the EP’s bonus song “Adulting”. Broken Crayons Still Colour 2 is another potent release from SimmySimmyNya’s growing catalogue.
Dee Xclsv “G-Park Genius”
Dee Xclsv tells his story with unmatched confidence and superb enunciation and clarity. G-Park Genius sees him dive into his experiences and ambitions with the aforementioned arsenal of skills and unassuming wordplay over a range of beats that are as nostalgic as they are current. With G-Park Genius, the member of Punchline Media shows a bit of growth from his previous release Two Hours From G-Park, which was itself a decent release. G-Park Genius is a tight-knit project that doesn’t waste time, but gets straight to the point and by the time it’s done, it begs the repeat button.
Selema Writes “Mama Is Still a Freedom Fighter”
Selema Writes’ parents fought in the struggle apartheid, and according to the rapper, they remain loyal to the cause unlike their counterparts who have since turned their backs on the poor. Selema Writes laments the country’s decline and motivates the people to never lose hope. The J-Sec emcee tells his story which is also the story of ordinary South Africans who are constantly getting disappointed by the same government they had hoped would revive their dignity only to no avail.