Words by Kenny Wood
2017 was a beautiful year for project releases. We were actually spoilt for choice; almost everyone’s favourite rapper put out a body of work. Check out the best South African hip hop projects dropped this year.
Shane Eagle – Yellow
Probably the most well received album of 2017, Yellow exceeded everyone’s expectations and blew a lot of people away with its nostalgic yet new wave sound. Shane went against the grain with this project and this made all the industry heads clap for the fact that he did something that they usually shy away from. He made it clear on this album that he came to rap; either you like it or resort back to listening to ‘your favourite rapper who’s a pop star’.
Emtee – Manando
Damn Emtee, this was a long album but we have to appreciate people that give us music in abundance. Firstly, we cannot deny that Emtee is a great writer and knows how to execute a great song. Manando gave us something that we have not experienced in a while in local rap – pure story telling. One cannot deny that he has mastered African Trap and through this album he has shown that it’s not a passing fad. Some may argue that the album is monotonous; some may say it has a cohesive sound, but one thing that cannot be in dispute is Emtee’s talent level.
Rouge – The New Era Sessions
Rouge is an artist in every sense of the word. Her rapping is impeccable, her performances are stellar, and her acting is SAFTA is worthy. The way she rolled out this project was admirable, especially from an indie stand point. The album is well produced and the short film that accompanied the project was a well executed conceptual piece. Rouge really set bar high for a lot of artists with this project.
PS. Radio must not sleep on Dololo
Maggz – For Love and Glory
We were blessed enough to finally get a Maggz album this year. It really took a long minute for us to get this; in fact most begged for it due to his show stopping features. For Love and Glory is a stellar project, the beauty of this album is that he addresses a lot of the questions his fans have been asking as it opens with KO addressing how Maggz left CashTime. What was interesting was how Maggz effortlessly merged new school flows and energy with his lyricism. There are points where he unapologetically goes at substandard rappers as well. Tracks like Raindrops probably have ‘true school’ heads nodding with two gun fingers to every bar on that song. The biggest let down with this project was how under marketed it was. There really are some gems on it.
Cassper – Thuto
It’s probably no secret that Tsibip’s second album didn’t go down well in term of critical claim. Maybe he fell victim to the sophomore curse thus he really had to deliver on his third offering. Thuto really exceeded a lot of people’s expectations, especially if you remember how purists unanimously bashed the first single and now smash hit Tito Mboweni. This album has all the ingredients of a great rap album. It has been a while since a local rapper opened up so much on a personal level discussing failed love, family hardships and the insecurities that come with fame and fortune.
Priddy Ugly – E.G.Y.P.T
I know a lot of people raised their eyebrows when Priddy Ugly singed to Ambitiouz Records, many thought this would dilute his art. However, E.G.Y.P.T offers the level of artistry we have always received from a Priddy Ugly project and Wichi1080’s genius is also still present. E.G.Y.P.T is a beautiful trip in to Priddy Ugly’s mind. You hear the hunger and desire to break out of the under dog box. When one hears Ambition one can tell that this is an artist who is not satisfied with second place. E.G.Y.P.T will definitely place Priddy Ugly in the winner’s circle.
AKA and Anatii – BCWYWF
AKA and Anatii really gave us something special with BCWYWF, the musicality of this project is on its own level. The singles were undeniable, the visuals were artistic and the experience of the album was A1. Whilst Camps Bay is questionable, everything else on the album deserves five fire flame emoji’s.
A-Reece – From Me To You and Only You
The boy doing things came through and curated a flawless vibe with this album. The project is pristine to say the least. The production sets a great mood and is consistent throughout. A-Reece is setting himself up to be the leader of the new school with his music. You learn a lot about him through this album and you can hear that he had creative freedom. You can almost feel him flexing this freedom on Promise Land and this sets the tone for the rest of the album.
KO – Skhanda Republic 2
If we were to be frank, we would note that the Skhanda King has been fighting the quiet storm in his career. Last year we saw the CashTime empire disseminate in front of our eyes and it was quite sad. I’m sure we all wondered how Mr CashTime would come back, but if there is one thing we cannot doubt is KO’s work ethic. He did what any self respecting rap artist should do and that is hit the booth. SR2 is a respectable body of work with its highs and lows. KO really opened up on a lot of private areas in his life in a real artistic way.
Hopefully this trend continues into 2018. There is nothing better than being spoiled for choice as a rap fan. Rappers need to leave the single trend behind and give fans as much content as they can.