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Best Hip Hop 2024

Best Hip Hop Projects of 2024 So Far

We’re halfway through the year and there’s no denying that 2024 has turned out to be a year where a lot of artists have put out some of their best work. Whether it’s singles, EPs or whole albums, the hip hop audience has been well-fed. While it’s never easy to compile these kinds of listicles, it’s always a worthy endeavour for us as music lovers. So, as we anticipate the last half of the year, let’s look back on some of the best projects of the year so far.

The Big Hash

Conceptualised as a heartbreak album, The Big Hash’s long awaited first full length release since he resolved his issues with his previous label is a meditation on departure and renewal. This sentiment functions on two levels. First, it’s in relation to romantic heartbreak, secondly it’s in relation to severed professional ties. He does an extremely good job in making both iterations of heartbreak find expression in the album, which also supports the format of it being primarily R&B. He sings for the most part, yet an undercurrent of high level rapping persists throughout. Nowadays, rarely does an album as long as this one, running for almost an hour at 56 minutes with 16 tracks, sound so cohesive and focused. Perhaps for Hash, singing is his strongest suit, which is why he does so much of it, but he is equally as good at rapping. On “THAT’S WASSUP” he goes toe to toe with Thato Saul, YoungstaCPT, Tyson Sybatelli and he more than holds his own. Other features include Blxckie, Imani Basquait, KashCPT, and Kaash Paige.

Priddy Ugly

Priddy Ugly released the third instalment of his ‘land’ series (I just coined that), DUST. The first instalment was the 10-track LP released in 2021 called SOIL, the second a 7-track EP called MUD released in 2022. One thing all these projects have in common is that they house some of the best rapping Priddy Ugly has ever done in his career. On DUST he continues this momentum and upward trajectory as a serious lyricist whose stock is steadily rising. He tells compelling narratives as he weaves tales about the hood, makes insightful commentary on life, while also delivering hard-hitting bars about why he is at his best. His ear for beats matches his sharp tongue, having gotten production from heavyweights such as MashBeatz, Herc Cut The Lights and Shooterkhumz. He also makes it a point to rap alongside some of the finest lyricists working today, holding his own against Maglera Doe Boy, Tyson Sybatelli,Ginger Trill, ZuluMecca and Thato Saul on respective songs.

Stogie T

Elite MC Stogie T returned with his first offering since 2020. The 6-track EP, Shallow, is a love letter to the 80s, a decade in which Stogie was born in and came of age. Working closely with bassist and producer Shane Cooper, he crafted a living portrait of the 80s decade through distinctive soundscapes that bear the hallmarks of the hits of that decade. The expansive basslines, soaring leads and synth heavy instrumentation is the canvas of which he raps about the carefree love reminiscent of the yesteryears, while also finding time to draw from the political landscape of the 80s, and juxtaposing those times with the current times. Ever the cerebral MC, he references among others figures such as Albie Sachs, Sani Abachi, even sampling Brenda Fassie, who are all personalities who the 80s represent a watershed year in their respective lives.

Fresh Prince of Rustenberg 2
Luna Florentino

Serving as the follow-up to his 2020 sophomore release Fresh Prince of Rustenburg, Luna Florentino’s 2024 release is a fitting continuation to its predecessor. The second instalment adopts a much more mellowed out and chunky overall sound however, which compliments Luna’s laidback delivery. His headspace on this project points to an artist now comfortable in his own skin, who isn’t as preoccupied with proving himself as he once was in his previous releases. Even when disgruntled, he doesn’t express it with resentment, as he calmly raps “We took the stairs man, ain’t nobody tried to send the elevator down to us, we keep it trill fam, ain’t nobody that gave us the info, we dug it for us…” on one of the project’s standout tracks “‘LAXXED”. The features on the tape include frequent collaborators Manu Worldstar, along mainstays such as Emtee and Jay Jody, as well as Flow Jones Jr.

Happy 2 Be Alive
Ricky Tyler

Happy 2 Be Alive is Ricky Tyler’s sophomore album following the release of his 2020 debut album Small World. The production on the album is characterised by a mostly atmospheric haze of shimmering ambient sounds, on a bed of garage-infused drums. Drawing from discernable electronic musical influences, as well as pop and R&B soundscapes, the album is a lush musical affair complemented by Ricky’s distinct vocals. He tackles a range of subject matter, ranging from remaining hopeful amidst hardships on “Hold On”, domestic abuse on “W.Y.E.”, the perils of fame on “Finally Famous”, where he also shows his rapping aptitude, as well as lost love on the amapiano tinged “You Were Mine“. The features on the album include Bien, Tyson Sybateli and Tellaman, amongst others.

Only The Brave
MashBeatz & Wordz

For the past 5 years, MashBeatz has been front and centre of the SA hip hop game when it comes to production. Whether he’s providing a single or a couple beats for a few artists or producing whole albums, either for himself or others. He is fresh off a Best Hip Hop SAMA win in 2023 with his 2023 compilation album THIS IS RELIGION. With ONLY THE BRAVE, he locks in with familiar collaborator Wordz and the two make magic. For Wordz, this is his third outing following 2021’s PRODUCT OF A PRAYING MOTHER and 2023’s PEOPLE FORGET TO BE PEOPLE. He continues to assert himself as a leading man, following the disbanding of The Wrecking Crew, and so far, he’s covering serious ground. The project is the quintessential Pitori hip hop album, complete with bangers (“TSONGA AGENDA”, “WHERE THE OG’S”), soulful cuts (“JOY”, “TALK ABOUT IT”, “FAMILY TO FEED”), as well as slang-heavy cuts (“LOCKO”, “HALLOWEEN”).

Organized Grime 2

Renowned as the foremost torch bearer of Kasi rap, SPeeKa, born Thapelo Modiela is a passionate and hardworking producer and sometimes rapper, hailing from Soweto. Organized Grime 2 is a compilation album he released in May, consisting of songs by various MCs and artists performing on beats and production handled by him. It is a sequel to the 2017 instalment, which featured artists strictly from Soweto, while this one expanded to include Soweto and non-Soweto artists, from Jimmy Wiz, Mthizo, Impakt to Ntombela, Ora Kola, Sizwe Alakine, Hymphatic Thabs and N’Veigh. Brimming with headnod-inducing beats, Organized Grime 2  is a showcase of eclectic lyricism and artistry,  illustrated through a melting pot of exceptional talent from various regions. An independently released album underscored by the raw passion of a passion project, yet executed with the professionalism of a major label backed release.

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Zulu Mecca

ZuluMecca’s EP SEAMS illustrates the enduring spirit of boom bap hip hop. It’s triumphant, solid, self-assured and it doesn’t care to impress. It exists out of necessity, and all of this is true for ZuluMecca as an artist. Having built a reputation as a reliable MC who cares deeply about the traditional tenets of hip hop, dope beats-dope rhymes, SEAMS is an excellent addition to that canon. With 6 tracks, she succinctly deals with fallibility, lost love, fidelity, as well as rapping prowess, all the while employing different flows, while maintaining a high level of lyricism even when aiming for a more mainstream sound on the fun “Right Back”.

Conversations Are Better In a Benz (CABIAB)

N’Veigh is a veteran MC hailing from Pretoria. One of the few whose relevance has remained, irrespective of the changing eras of South African hip hop. For the most part, his skillset has remained unchanged and highly recognisable – rapid fire punchline laden scripts, whether he’s ripping a freestyle or is on a song, are the order of the day. On CABIAB, he strikes a near-perfect balance of crafting dope verses and making palatable songs. To make the 8-track album, he enlists the services of hook maestros Jay Claude and Just Bheki, as well as fellow veteran MCs Towdeemac and Maggz. Jimmy Wiz also makes an appearance as well as K-Tasso, Vsinare and R.A.E.chil.

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