He might have just released his third studio album, Zulu Man With Some Power, but Nasty C is only getting started. The South African lyricist’s career is looking promising, with prospects of being an international superstar. More on that here.
Nasty C has a string of great songs that are singles and those that appear in his discography of mixtapes and albums. The emcee hasn’t looked back since releasing his debut mixtape, One Kid A Thousand Coffins in 2013. He followed it up with his critically acclaimed mixtape Price City, which is now joined by three studio albums—Bad Hair, Strings and Bling and Zulu Man With Some Power—and a mixtape (Zulu).
For our list of Nasty C’s best songs, we picked singles, album deep cuts and mixtape songs that showcase his abilities as a rapper, producer and overall artist.
Note: This list is in no particular order.
SMA (featuring Rowlene)
“SMA” is an epic that is Nasty C’s biggest single to date. In this brilliant collaboration with his musical twin Rowlene, Nasty C details the ups and downs of his relationship with his current girlfriend. Nasty C’s storytelling skills shine on the song as he doesn’t only excel as a writer but also a performer.
“Phases” (featuring Rowlene)
This was the first collaboration between Nasty C and Rowlene that showcased their magical chemistry. Nasty C opens up a time he fell so hard in love, those around him called him crazy. The song’s drums die halfway through and Rowlene takes over from Nasty C with an effortlessly sung verse over mellow keys.
Nasty C is a rapper’s rapper, and one of his most impressive showcase of his technical skills is the song “Switched Up”. In the song, the rapper displays his understanding of rhyme patterns, flows and how to maneuver a beat’s pockets.
One of the lead singles to his biggest album to date, Zulu Man With Some Power, “Eazy” happens to be one of his best songs. “Eazy” has a catchy melodic hook and verses, and Nasty C takes a moment to deliver a memorable rap verse (“Says she disappointment, I used to be the Apple of her eye (i), bitch, bite me”) that stands out in the whole album.
As one of the songs that introduced Nasty C to the South African music industry, it’s clear why “Hell Naw” caught the attention of millions of music fans—a tight-knit flow, and a catchy hook revealed an emcee who wasn’t only a rapper’s rapper, but could make effortless hits.
From his second mixtape, the seminal Price City (2015) came the gem “I.V (Four)”, a song in which Nasty C converses with his late mother, giving her an update of his life since she left this realm after a taxi violence incident. It’s a song that tells Nasty C’s personal story both emotively and descriptively.
“Allow” (featuring French Montana)
Nasty C was able to amplify French Montana‘s presence even though his contribution to the song is minimal. The marriage between vocals and instrumental is natural, and showcases Nasty C’s skills as both a rapper and producer.
“Strings and Bling”
Taking it back to hip-hop’s obsession with flamenco strings in the 90s, with the title track of his second studio album, Nasty C encapsulated the concept of strings and bling—through his raps, he shares his low points, which he heals with bling. This might just be the only “Kumbaya” song worth listening to.
“King” (featuring A$AP Ferg)
Easily one of the coldest combinations of Nasty C’s raps and Tweezy‘s production, “King” is one of the rapper’s most unassuming gems from his catalogue. The song comes with cheeky shots to Nasty C’s counterparts (“We get really busy long days, you just log in and tweet long threads”) and a fitting A$AP Ferg verse.
“25” (featuring Tellaman)
The drum pattern on “25” is reminiscent of the finger-snapping crunk era. A rumbling bassline carries the song while a flute line dominates as Nasty C makes an audacious claim—that he will sign his idol when he’s 25. “25” is given character by Nasty C and Tellaman’s customary chemistry.
“Good Girls and Snapchat Hoes”
A misguided classification of what constitutes a “good girl” and, well, a “snapchat hoe”, the double-barreled song is a guilty pleasure. Where Nasty C falls short in terms of depth, his ability to rap and construct songs always saves him. “Good Girls and Snapchat Hoes” is a great example of that dynamic at play.
“Vent” is a top-5 Nasty C song. In this deep cut from Bad Hair, Nasty C reflects on his rise and runs his victory lap with raps that are equal parts sincere and a display of flair—the song is replete with double entendres (“I got 20k in my pocket, that’s heavy enough to keep me grounded”, “I never became a doctor, but made me some Ms and Ms”) and is one of the finest creations by Nasty C and frequent producer The Gobbla.
“Let Me In”
On “Let Me In”, a hungry Nasty C told his personal story and expressed his determination to make it as a rapper. Just like most songs on Price City, the mixtape in which “Let Me In” appears, the song is an example of Nasty C’s ability to merge his rhymes with beats and revealed a promising emcee with the traits of a rap superstar.
“Bookoo Bucks” (featuring Lil Keed and Lil Gotit)
“Bookoo Bucks” proves Nasty C’s mastery in creating catchy hooks, and he’s backed by a shiny trap instrumental by ATL Jacob. Lil Keed and Lil Gotit both turn in verses that complement Nasty C. “Bookoo Bucks” is an undoubtable club banger and always begs the repeat button.
Not one to shy away from confronting his personal issues, Nasty C shared he was overwhelmed by his life which was changing at a rapid rate. It’s a song anyone who has experienced growth in their lives will relate to—friends will say you’ve changed and, after, ask you for some change.
“Don’t BAB” (featuring Tellaman, Gemini Major)
The kind of chemistry displayed on “Don’t BAB” can only be achieved when artists spend a lot of time together. “Don’t BAB” is a playful songs that could have started as a practical joke. Nasty C’s vocals are woven between his collaborators’ takes over a cloud trap beat in what is one of their collaborations.
“God Flow” (featuring crownedYung)
Nasty C aggressively rides a tingly trap beat built on a pulverising bassline. If all the melodic songs Nasty C makes a lot of currently, songs like “God Flow” function as a reminder to fans that he is a lyricist before anything. Fellow Durbanite crownedYung contributes an equally proficient verse.
“U Played Yourself”
Nasty C never goes wrong over boom bap production. On “U Played Yourself”, he gives relationship advice over an airy instrumental characterised by the combination of vocal samples and a selection of pads that create a fitting atmosphere for his raps. “U Played Yourself” proves that rappers paying homage to their rappity rap roots doesn’t always have to sound like a 90s throwback.
With his breakout hit, “Juice Back”, Nasty C introduced himself to hip-hop fans as an emcee with a reverence for the art of rap, but one who knew how to make catchy hooks, which, to this day, is still Nasty C in a nutshell. “Juice Back” went viral and was boosted by a remix featuring Cassper Nyovest and Davido. The remix itself is a gem, but it doesn’t beat the original which was pure unadulterated passion and expression.
Starting with a clip of Sway crowing Nasty C a hyena, “031” is an ode to the rapper’s hometown Durban. His ability to craft flows to suit whatever beat he’s given will always be a winning trait in a world where the average rapper sticks to the same flow. On “031”, Nasty C dances a lot, evidently having fun with his craft.