We dropped the news on Twitter that the June edition of The Plug will focus solely on celebrating and highlighting the Top 100 people in SA who are influencing and moving urban culture forward. Needless to say social media lit up and we trended the whole day after dropping the news.#ThePlug100 generated over 1.7 million impression and reached over 500k people in less than 24 hours – we got the people going. And for the right reasons. Seeing people nominate their peers and colleagues all day brought us a lot of satisfaction as Twitter TLs were filled with nothing but youth excellence.
This reminded us of why we started The Plug – it’s not to be another gossip-hawking publication but to be a quality content platform that adds value to culture and promotes people who are breaking considerable ground through authentic and spirited endeavours.
For the next 2 weeks we will be dropping 20 names from the list every second day. We will start from 100 and work our way down. The idea is for us to open up the conversation and give people the room to debate the list and the ranking. We know everyone won’t agree with us but understand that we have passionately studied and reported on culture for a minute now. We cast the net really wide and literally looked at every person that got nominated on Twitter as well as on the site. It was difficult narrowing it down to only these individuals as the talent in urban culture is immense.
The criteria for the Top 100 list was as follows:
* We judged people on their work over the past 12 months and the impact it had on urban culture
* The work produced had to be authentic and influence culture in a positive way
* We looked at their internet presence and social media reach
* Excluded record labels and corporate brands (record execs and brand managers were considered)
* Extra points if you represented SA on the global stage
Here goes SA …
SMB, which stands for Sophisticated Monkey Brand, is a Durban-based streetwear and lifestyle brand steered by Wandile Mshengu and a handful of close compadres who share the same hunger and dream of putting Durban culture on the map. The SMB Boys operate out of a compact shop at 8 Morrison which is literally the hub of Durban street culture. Everyone from Scoop to Emtee have rocked their colourful threads and bucket hats.
99. Onyx Group
ONXY Group is arguably the most influential collective in Braam right now. The collective is made up of artists, DJs, designers and all-round cool kids who shape the scene in one of the most important culture hubs in SA. The company which was co-founded by @betterbust and Alternative Visuals produces the popular Onyx Rage Fest which saw thousands of wavy revellers from all over JHB get together for a rocking fest last year.
98. Travys Owen
Travys Owen is an acclaimed photographer and filmmaker. Travys’ creative outputs include lookbooks for Lukhanyo Mdingi, which have received acclaim locally and internationally. Travy’s photography transcends capturing moments and often rival some of the greatest artworks to emerge out of the local creative landscape.
96. Legend Manqele
Legend Manqele is the founder of Bar Leader, a television production company. Legend started off as an actor and starred in a few films and TV shows before he decided to focus on putting work behind the scene. He has been involved in numerous hit shows over the years and he’s the man credited with convincing Bonang to star in her brand new reality show called Being Bonang which launches on Vuzu next month. Legend’s drive and work ethic is phenomenal and will surely see him rising higher and higher on this list.
96. Sibusiso Ngwenya
Sbu Ngwenya took the road less travelled. Most entrepreneurs with a passion for fashion focus on regular apparel and accessories or maybe even sneakers but not Sbu; he decided on socks – bright-coloured socks that make a big statement. His “Skinny Sbu Socks” brand was launched with the sole purpose of giving the modern man a sense of confidence and distinguishing him from the crowd. Sbu takes pride of the fact that he manufactures his socks in SA and only makes 250 pairs of each design. Sbu has made the coveted Mail & Guardian Top 200 and Forbes 30 Under 30 lists.
95. Nganga Dlanga
Nganga used to be simply known as Khaya Dlanga’s little brother but not anymore, he is a young achiever in his own right. After working in the advertising industry for a mere 12 months Nganga Dlanga helped produce a piece of work that won him every major award in the ad game. He collected the coveted Loeries Grand Prix for the Channel O ad that was inspired by the iconic 1976 image of Hector Pieterson. Nganga ended off the year as No. 10 on the official Loeries ranking of copywriters. It’s still early days for the young gun but it delights us seeing his star rise this fast.
94. Neo Baepi
Neo Baepi is a rising South African photographer famed for capturing enchanting shots of notable personalities. Beyond capturing the essence of urban culture and fashionable moments in South Africa, Neo’s skills extend to Social Media Management and Digital Content Production.
SGOD stands for Styla God Original Designs. The Soweto-based brand was founded by a collective called Styla Gang in 2011. Their GANG tees and hoodies have become ubiquitous and have been rocked by everyone from AKA to DJ Speedsta and Tshego. SGOD have added a fresh perspective to the local streetwear scene; their minimalist style accentuated by bright colours have resonated with thousands. We’re eager to see if the brand will defy the odds and produce another hot collection for this coming Summer and the one after.
92. Dear Ribane
Manthe Ribane, Tebogo Ribane and Kokona Ribane are the talented trio who make up Dear Ribane. Dear Ribane conveys compelling narratives through movement. The creative collective have become internationally acclaimed and have collaborated with brands such as Kenzo and CHANEL.
91. Rolo Rozay
Rolo Rozay is a street culture aficionado that has shaped the scene in Cape Town for close to 10 years. The charismatic Rolo never minces his own words and is very quick to call out companies or people who are doing anything that’s not authentic. Rolo has been instrumental is entrenching Puma into urban culture in SA and also moonlights as one-half of the popular “Rare and Sudden” podcast killers.
90. Mpumelelo Mfula / RHTC
Local creative, Mpumelelo Mfula, is the founder of RHTC. Transcending a mere store, RHTC’s ethos is described as “not merely selling products, we are street artists who sell culture.” RHTC has carved an important part of the local streetwear landscape and “aims to collaborate, interact and form relationships with brands and individuals that capture the RHTC philosophy.”
89. Phendu Kuta
Phendu Kuta is an entrepreneur and the founder of Unlabelled, an online magazine which aims to offer insight into the complex journey and identify of South Africa’s creative youth. Under Phendu Kuta’s inspired vision, Unlabelled features thought-provoking explorations into the local creative landscape and the challenges it faces.
Instagram: @phendukuta / @unlabelledmag
88. DJ Loyd
Loyiso Mdebuka aka DJ Loyd is a Cape Town native who has been instrumental in shaping the nightlife culture in that city. DJ Loyd is a regular fixture at some of the top clubs in CPT and JHB. He also hosts a popular weekly house music show on 5FM. If he’s not dropping lethal house sets at some of the biggest parties, DJ Loyd is hosting his inspirational #LOYDSessions which have been graced by the likes of Khaya Dlanga, Xolisa Dyeshana and Farah Fortune.
87. Loyiso Mkize
Loyiso Mkize is one of the most inspiring visual artists of our generation. Born in the town of Butterworth, Loyiso’s work captures the most intrinsic facets of South Africans in a manner which powerfully reflects his audience. His artworks are emotionally stirring and offer commentary on South African identity and all its triumphs and sorrows.
86. Hayden Manuel
Hayden Manuel is a sneaker authority. Write down your Top 10 dream sneakers and Hayden probably has them. Very few people in SA command the respect that Hayden enjoys from the sneaker community. Hayden also launched a hilarious and important podcast for the culture alongside his partner-in-crime Rolo Rozay called “Rare and Sudden”. Word on the street is Hayden will be shaping the direction of one of the Top 3 sportswear brands really soon. Watch this space.
FAKA is a performing art duo and movement comprised of Thato Ramaisa (Fela Gucci) and Buyani Duma (Desire Marea). Beyond their captivating performances, Fela Gucci and Desire Marea promote young black queer voices and identity in South Africa.
Twitter: @FelaGucci / @DesireMarea
Instagram: @felagucci / @desiremarea
84. Prime Obsession
Prime Obsession is comprised of Shelley Mokoena and Keneilwe Mothoa and they have risen to become one of South Africa’s most prominent creative collaborators. Their brand transcends garments and aims to communicate compelling narratives through their minimalistic yet emotionally stirring visual executions.
83. Rharha Nembhard
Rharha Nembhard is one of the most phenomenal local talents we’ve witnessed. Her unique artistic approach, unwavering commitment to seeing her vision come to life and futuristic creative outlook have set her apart from her peers. Rharha serves as Petite Noir’s Creative Director and has featured in an array of international publications including Vogue, ID and Dazed and Confused.
82. Paul Ward
Paul Ward is an incredible talent whose photography and directing skills have earned him a rightful place on this list. It was Paul Ward that documented Riky Rick’s infamous trip that saw him invade the streets of Milan in memorable fashion – Riky hanging out with Kylie Jenner; Riky kicking it with A$AP Rocky. That was all Paul Ward. Paul, a product of Vega School of Branding, understands the fundamentals of brand-building which he uses to add nuance to everything he touches.
81. Melusi Mhlungu
Melusi Mhlungu is one of the most revered creative minds within South African advertising. He is a copywriter at leading ad agency, Ogilvy and Mather Johannesburg, and was awarded the coveted Loeries 2015 Young Creative of the Year accolade. The talented copywriter has conceptualized some of the greatest ads of the past few years and is set to leave an ineradicable mark on the local ad industry.
80. Thabang ‘Tipi’ Manyelo
Polokwane native, Thabang ‘Tipi’ Manyelo, has risen to become one of the most gifted young talents within the South African ad industry. Currently an award winning copywriter at esteemed agency FCB Africa, Thabang has overcome tremendous odds to cement his place in an immensely competitive industry. His creative prowess, passion and tenacity have resulted in a plethora of local and international awards. Keep an eye out for him in future, he is definitely on his way to creating an unforgettable legacy as one of South Africa’s most esteemed creatives.
79. Spova Gang
You’ve heard the name Spova Gang countless times on an OKM cut. So what is Spova Gang? In short, Spova Gang is their heir apparent to Boyzn’Bucks. After the latter crew and concept stalled due to alleged in-fighting, Smiso “Okmalumkoolkat” Zwane and his underlings found another outlet for their unmatched creativity. Spova Gang is a creative collective that consist of designers, DJs, musicians and stylists. They are “lifestyle chefs” as they like to call themselves. Spova Gang has a big say on what trends get to pop in SA fashion, music and culture.
78. Sibs Jali
Sibs Jali is a little known, albeit serial operator, behind the scenes in urban culture. He is co-founder of Jalibird, a Durban-based events company and marketing agency. Jalibird were behind the success of Axecess Jozi a few years ago that saw the likes of Schoolboy Q, Rae Sremmurd and Big Sean hitting our shores. They have also been instrumental in growing GoodSundae, Durban’s premier urban lifestyle event property. In addition to events, Sibs has been prolific with matching the likes of Black Coffee, AKA and Riky Rick with brands such as Axe and Vaseline.
Thesis is a 13 year-old streetwear and lifestyle brand that has been at the forefront of street culture in Soweto. Founded by friends Wandile and Wireless G, the brand made a name for itself by producing quality cut and sew streetwear items locally. Their store in Mofolo Park is more than just a retail space but has become a cultural hub for like-minded individuals. Buoyed by their mantra “Define Yourself”, the founders are always looking for new ways to connect with their consumers. In addition to doing regular events, they also operate a running club that encourages health and fitness amongst Soweto youth.
76. Microwave Boys
Content creators, Larry Nhlane, Sipho Muchindu and Sphakamiso Ngonyama, are the trio behind the infectious new show blazing YouTube and social media locally, Microwave Boys. The charming trio offer commentary on various topics sharing hilarious viewpoints. The show is becoming a viral sensation and Larry, Sipho and Sphaka’s unique personas make each episode unforgettable. The trio is making massive strides within the local online content community.
75. Pap Culture
Nwabisa Mda, Thembe Mahlaba and Bongeka Masango are the talented trio behind Pap Culture. They are leading content creators sharing powerful videos on a range of topics affecting South African youth. They’re smart, confident, incredibly talented, and are part of an amazing new movement of independent opinion leaders shaping local narratives and transforming South Africa’s online community.
74. Chisanga Mubanga
Chisanga Mubanga is one of the most refreshing figures within local urban culture, and part of a leading pack of new, multi-faceted creatives. Chisanga is a Strategist at advertising agency, FCB Africa, by day. He is also one the most talented local photographers, having shot for Unlabelled Magazine and Bubblegum Club. He is also part of the Culture Club along with Anthony Bila and Nicholas Rawhan, an innovative creative collective.
73. Thabang Rabothata
Thabang “Bangy” Rabothata is an enigmatic entrepreneur and designer from Mamelodi in Pretoria. He founded and operates DEAD., a streetwear brand with a very clean but colourful aesthetic. DEAD. is more than just a streetwear brand; Thabang’s vision is for the brand to morph into a fully-fledged lifestyle. His water and ice cream collaborations serve as testament to this. His hoodies and tracksuits have become a staple for the likes of DJ Speedsta, Fred Kayembe, Loot Love and Scoop.
72. Jamal Nxedlana
Creative and visionary, Jamal Nxedlana is the founder of the Bubblegum Club. The Bubblegum club is a growing creative publication celebrating some of South Africa’s most unique talents. Beyond being an online publication, the Bubblegum Club also serves as an agency aimed at elevating local youth culture.
71. Menzi Mzimela
Menzi Mzimela is a Content Producer, Video Editor, Graphic Designer and one of the most impactful creatives within the local content creator landscape. After realizing there was a lack of local vlogs, he conceptualized Broke Niggas, a local show which explored the lives of young creatives in South Africa. Menzi is also the co-founder of Microwave Boys, a new viral online show featuring commentary from Larry Nhlane, Sipho Muchindu and Sphakamiso Ngonyama.
70. Lebogang Rasethaba
Lebogang Rasethaba is a gifted director and part of Arcade Content, a division of Egg Films that produces branded content that falls outside the realm of traditional TV commercials. The talented director spent five years in China completing his master’s in film studies and has made his mark on the world of branded content, working with a list of international brands and featuring regularly on sites like Highsnobiety, i-D and Vice. Lebogang has also completed three feature-length documentaries, The People Vs The Rainbow Nation, Future Sound of Msanzi, and Prisoner 46764: The Untold Legacy of Andrew Mlangeni.
69. Yeah Lenzo
Laurenzo ‘YeahLenzo’ Dlamini is a Johannesburg based photographer, director and filmmaker. Founder of BLXCKWORX, YeahLenzo has become one of the most sought-after directors in SA, racking up over 2 million YouTube views and having his music videos currently on rotation. Some of his best work includes DA LES’ “Up To Something” video, DJ Speedsta’s ‘Mayo’ and most recently, Cassper Nyovest’s ‘Tito Mboweni’.
68. The Sartists
Andile Buka, Kabelo Kungwane, Wanda Lephoto and Xzavier Zulu, are the faces and storytellers behind the Sartists, a Johannesburg-based multidisciplinary creative collective, formed to challenge parochial ideas about blackness in modern society, taking a considered, autodidactic and documentary approach to style and identity.
67. Tebogo Malope
Tebogo Malope is one of South Africa’s most renowned directors. This award winning director forms part of the acclaimed Bomb Commercials team and has worked on hugely successful shows such as Tempy Pushas, Skeem Saam and Isibaya. Tebogo is also an award winning Music Video Director/DOP with expansive work around the continent for artists such as DBanj, Fally Ipupa, Goldie, 2face, Proverb, Davido and Don Jazzy.
66. Cutthroat/La Familia
Cutthroat and La Familia are newcomers to the game but boy have they made an impact in a short period! The two brands occupy premium retail space right next door to each other in Rosebank. Cutthroat, a nascent record label and management company, operates a studio from their Rosebank establishment whilst La Familia retails some of the most exclusive streetwear and sneakers in the world. Cutthroat is the brainchild of Nape Phasha and Phetho Matlala, whilst La Familia is operated by Vato Kayde (who also moonlights as a DJ) and Meeshka Joseph. The two brands introduced their “First Thursdays” parties a few months ago and it has quickly become a prime favourite amongst JHB’s north cool kids.
Twitter: @cutthroatza /
Instagram: @cutthroat_ent / @lafamiliastreetculture
65. Tony Gum
Tony Gum was named by Vogue last year as “the coolest girl in Cape Town”. It’s not hard to see why that esteemed publication couldn’t resist bestowing that title on her. As if that wasn’t big enough, Inner Circle named her as one of Top 3 Women Artists to invest in. Gum has made a mark on SA with her amazing imagery, thus making the art world look at contemporary art and culture in a totally different light. Tony is the muse that Wes Anderson doesn’t know he needs.
64. Melanie Ramjee
Melanie Ramjee is a powerhouse of a lady. The Joburg-based Ramjee is one of the best publicists in the country. Her client roster reads like the who’s who of the entertainment industry. A hip hop head herself, Melanie takes pride in working on projects that advance SA urban culture. Her kick-ass work ethic has fueled the growth of her baby Tutone Communications and has earned her the respect of the entire industry.
63. The Bread
The Bread is a creative brand consultancy that pushes the culture forward with authentic work that it does with some key brands. Based in Joburg, the company “helps brands communicate, connect and differentiate”. The Bread has done stellar work for the likes of Anatomy, Markham, Belaire Rose, Krone and Vans. In addition to The Bread, the company also operates Bakery, a digital agency that focuses on product strategy, UX/UI design and development.
62. Sibu Mpanza
Sibu Mpanza is one the biggest content creators and YouTubers in South Africa. The charismatic YouTube star has become one of the most respected local content creators, offering stirring social commentary on permanent issues in a light-hearted and humorous manner.
61. Mkay Frash
Mkay Frash has been a pivotal figure within South African street culture for years. As part of BoyzNBucks, Mkay was part of shaping the local streetwear industry and is respected as one of the biggest sneakerheads in the game. Over and above his unequivocal adoration for the culture, Mkay is also the founder of Hunting for Kicks, an independent online magazine dedicated to showcasing and documenting urban youth and sneaker culture.
60. Bee Diamondhead
Bee Diamondhead is a South African based stylist, creative and fashion director under One League Creative Management. Having studied styling at the London College of fashion, her prowess in styling has resulted in an impressive body of work including outputs for world renowned magazines such as Dazed & Confused, Wound Magazine and Vanity Fair. Bee’s bold and eclectic style shines through her work, producing fresh and breathtaking imagery for fashion editorials and music videos to advertising campaigns and commercials.
59. Gabrielle Kannemeyer
Gabrielle Kannemeyer is a Cape Town based stylist and fashion director whose background in fine art and photography is strongly recognizable in her work. Having featured in publications such as i-D, Dazed and Flaunt to name a few, ‘Gabrielle’s styling and art direction are characterized by an artful layering of colours, textures and perfectly paired seemingly incongruous styles.’ Some of Kannemeyer’s clients include Adidas, Puma, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Superbalist and Rich Mnisi.
58. Maria McCloy
Maria McCloy is the founder of Maria McCloy Accessories, an afrocentric accessories line comprising of earrings, bracelets, headgear, shoes, bags and even suitcases. The duality in her upbringing exposed her to an array of cultures forming her love for accessories. Maria has lived in Sudan, Nigeria, Mozambique and Lesotho and is now based in Johannesburg. McCloy was one out of 8 designers selected to have their range sold at Woolworths stores countrywide.
57. Trevor Stuurman
Trevor Stuurman is a young notable creative within photography and the African fashion industry at large. His afrocentric style has garnered both local and international recognition, having numerous features in world renowned magazines and platforms such as British Vogue, French Vogue, NY Times and GQ to name a few.
56. Imraan Christian
A remarkable visual artist, Imraan Christian is a Cape Town based photographer and filmmaker known for his captivating and raw imagery around activism. Christian garnered recognition for his coverage of the #FEESMUSTFALL student protests which spread worldwide. Although Christian’s work is heavily rooted in unveiling the ugly head of structural racism and equality in South Africa, his catalogue is varied, including artistic offerings for brands such as Adidas and Nike.
55. Tusa Mamba
Tusa Mamba is the founder of Dipstreet, a noteworthy Johannesburg based sneaker store. At the tender age of 23, Tusa made the brave move to follow his true passion and enter into the retail sphere. Today, Dipstreet is both the meeting point for Johannesburg’s sneaker heads and streetwear enthusiasts and is a pivotal force in streetwear culture within South Africa.
Youngsta is a 20-something Cape Town based rapper whose hard hitting rhymes and slick flows have made him one to watch in the South African hip hop scene. Although recently reaching a wider audience, Youngsta has been in the game for years – having recorded over 150 songs after completing high school. Providing a glimpse into Cape Town street life through his art, Youngsta was crowned ‘South Africa’s King of Street Rap’ in 2011 and collaborated with Hip hop heavyweights Stogie T and Reason. Since then, the rapper has churned out numerous EPs and most recently ‘The Cape & Good Dope’.
53. Ms. Cosmo
Ms. Cosmo is a necessary feminine force in the male dominated SA hip hop industry. The diminutive DJ is no push-over, she has carved out a respectable place for herself on the proverbial hip hop table by being fiercely focused on her craft and by matching or beating her male peers with pure skill and passion for the game. Ms. Cosmo hosts The Stir Up, a weekly hip hop show on 5FM. She has successfully created a home for local hip hop on one of the biggest commercial radio stations and has specifically championed up-and-coming acts who wouldn’t otherwise be getting airtime on a national radio station.
52. Major League DJs
Banele and Bandile make up the Joburg-based DJ duo Major League. The twins have made a name for themselves by being one of the most prolific duos in the music industry. Over the past couple of years they have released chart-topping singles with the likes of Riky Rick, Casper Nyovest and Patoranking. Banele and Bandile also own and produce the hugely popular bi-annual Major League Social Gardens. The event attracts over 10,000 people and is a huge fixture on the eventing calendar.
51. Kyle Lewis
A household name within the South African music video sphere, Kyle Lewis is a Cape Town based music video director whose body of work has afforded him a high-level of reverence within the industry. Lewis has accrued a number of award nominations and was awarded the prestigious ‘Best Music Video’ award at the 2014 SAMAs for The Parlotone’s ‘Sleepwalker’ music video. He has also gone on to shoot notable music videos for Riky Rick and Nasty C.
50. Rich Mnisi
Rich Mnisi is the founder of ‘Rich Mnisi’, an eponymous brand which embraces a minimal, gender-fluid contemporary aesthetic. The young designer was named the 2014 Africa Fashion Young Designer of the Year just 10 months after making the bold decision to start a brand. Mnisi has appeared in numerous magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Glossary UK and Vogue Italia to name a few.
49. Nelson Makamo
Nelson Makamo is a Johannesburg based artist known for his captivating art of charismatic faces of South African children. Makamo has exhibited his work in South Africa, France, Italy, America, Netherlands, Amsterdam and Scotland.
48. Julian Kubel
Julian Kubel is founder and creative director of Butan Wear. Julian founded the clothing label in 2005 while he was still a student in Cape Town. A stoic hip hop head himself, he was inspired to create clothing that represented the culture that he was deeply in love with. Since its humble beginnings over 10 years ago, the brand has grown in leaps and bounds and can be found in major retail chains and boutiques.
47. Farah Fortune
Farah Fortune is an indomitable lioness of the communications industry. As one of the leading publicists in Joburg, Farah has meticulously positioned herself as the go-to person for artists and entertainers looking to be repped by a reputable PR firm with deep connects. She has the power, resources and connections to make any brand pop in SA urban culture. Farah has spent the past couple of years steadily building African Star Communications which now employs half-a-dozen full time staff and boasts the who’s who of SA entertainment as clients. You might have also spotted Farah as one of the guest judges on this season’s The Hustle.
46. Homecoming Africa
Homecoming Africa is a Pretoria based events and marketing company that was co-founded by @KMalatji and @NeoMoela. The company’s flagship Homecoming event started off as a picnic and has morphed into a fully-fledged festival. Last year, the guys went all out and relaunched the event as Homecoming Africa. Billed as a pan-African festival, the event was headlined by Nigerian superstar Wizkid and American rapper OT Genasis and attracted thousands of revellers to the capital. This year word is Homecoming Africa will feature multiple stages with dozens of acts.
45. Refiloe Ramogase
Refiloe Ramogase wields a lot of power in the local entertainment industry. He currently serves as GM and Director of Sony Music Entertainment, one of the biggest labels in the land. At Sony he helps oversee releases from luminaries such as AKA, Khuli Chana, DJ Speedsta, Black Motion, Kwesta and plenty other local and international acts. Prior to his current post, Refiloe was MD at Dream Team, a talent management company that is credited with blowing up the Khuli Chana brand. Refiloe, who describes himself as a “developer of human potential”, also produces the popular annual Maftown Heights event in partnership with Khuli Chana.
44. Didi Monsta
Didi Monsta is one of the leaders of the new school. An all-round cool kid, Didi possesses a wavy and eccentric style that has been the inspiration for many stylists and designers for years. In a shrewd move, Didi recognised his power and has now taken on clients such as Casper Nyovest to style. His styling of the Tito Mboweni video is one the reasons that it was a smash and generated 2 million views in less than 2 months. Didi also officially launched his own label 3am Life Was Never the Same which features a capsule collection titled “Half-Empty”. Didi can also be seen hosting parties at some of the top nightclubs in Jozi and his ‘delicious’ slang can be heard from every second teenager in the streets of Jozi.
43. DJ Dimplez
Tumi Mooi aka DJ Dimplez is a native of Diepkloof in Soweto. The hard-working DJ has cemented his place in SA’s urban culture landscape by not just being one of the most prolific hip hop DJs in the country, but by also being one of the operators of the hugely popular Pop Bottles event and lifestyle franchise. DJ Dimplez is also credited with popularising the trend of DJs making their own songs featuring local rappers. As a result of his brazen moves, other DJs stepped and have now taken ownership of the SA hip hop sound. Dimplez and his team are also going big this year as they’ve launched Pop Bottles Mauritius which will see them take over a resort on the popular island for a few days of revelry.
42. Anthony Smith
Anthony is the co-founder and creative director of 2Bop, one of the pioneering streetwear brands from Cape Town. The laid-back Anthony was influenced by a childhood of daily visits to the neighbourhood corner store where he used to spend endless hours playing arcade games like most kids from the hood. He turned that love of video games into a fully-fledged clothing label aptly called 2Bop. Anthony also runs Corner Store, the home of streetwear in Cape Town. The store is a collaboration between the 2Bop, Sol Sol and Young and Lazy labels.
41. Anees Petersen
Cape Town native, Anees Petersen, is one of the brightest and most successful creatives in the country. Through his eponymous label, Young & Lazy, Anees has transformed SA’s streetwear game with minimalist and quirky designs. The label has even amassed an international following with the likes of ID Magazine, Fader and Highsnobiety doing expansive editorials on the brand. This year, Anees cemented his place on the Top 50 of this list by striking a deal with Woolworths which has seen his conspicuous jackets and hoodies land in select stores of the retail giant.
40. Lethabo “Boogy” Maboi
Lethabo “Boogy” Maboi is one of the most gifted individuals within South African hip hop, fashion and urban culture. The founder of StyledByBoogy, she’s elevated the local style landscape with her phenomenal styling of magazine covers, award shows, album covers and photoshoots. Boogy has also developed one of the most distinct personal styles locally and has been featured in one of Woolworths’ “Styled By SA” campaigns. She’s a passionate and driven trendsetter and continues to make an undeniable impact on the local style game.
39. Akio Kawahito
Akio Kawahito is a widely respected Hip Hop DJ and one of South Africa’s most influential contributors to the genre. Akio is also the Creative Director of Kool Out Concepts, “a consultant for corporate brands focused on the urban and hip hop market having written or contributed to campaigns by Sprite, Play Energy Drink, Miller, Castle Lite, Castle Milk Stout, Nokia, DC Shoes and more.” Earlier this year, Akio and company launched Alchemy Music Festival to much success. They also operate Kool Out Rooftop, a go-to-venue for the culture in downtown Joburg.
38. Petite Noir
Yannick Ilunga, popularly known by his stage name Petite Noir, is one of the of most unique talents to emerge over the past few years. Noir’s debut EP, The King of Anxiety, and studio album, La vie est belle / Life Is Beautiful , were both released in 2015, a year which marked the birth of his vast impact on the international music circuit. Noir has since performed internationally amongst some of the biggest artists in the world and has received rave reviews from the likes of Pitchfork, Fader and Okayplayer. He’s also behind the ‘Noirwave’ movement and has also been hailed for his awe-inspiring visual executions in his music videos.
At the tender age of 24, Anatii has forged a stellar career for himself as one of South Africa’s stand out producers, as well as an artist and video director in his own right. Anatii cemented his evolution as an artist with his debut offering, Artiifact, which was released in September 2016. Anatii has also become famed for his widespread influence and connections and music endeavours with revered international hip hop acts. Anatii’s next music offering is a collaborative album with AKA, Be Careful What You Wish For, which is set for release later this year.
Shimza is a leading house DJ who’s considered as one of the most talented in the country. He has also focused a great deal of his efforts towards building his own properties, including his own production company and an array of his own events. Shimza has built an impressive repertoire for himself and hosts some of the biggest events in the country. Shimza also hosts workshops for emerging musicians offering them the skill set to make a bigger impact on the music industry. Our vote is on him to follow the massive footsteps of his boy Black Coffee.
35. Siya Beyile
Siya Beyile is one of South Africa’s leading menswear bloggers and influencers. He is the founder of The Threaded Man which is described as “the leading online destination for the modern African to stay up to date on fashion and original style.” Transcending the world of blogging, Siya has expanded the scope of The Threaded Man, with services such as hosting, wardrobe and production styling, content production and creative direction and brand collaborations being offered.
Siyabonga Metane, popularly known as Slikour, is one of the most prominent figures within the South African hip hop industry. He grew to fame as a founding member of Skwatta Kamp which laid the blueprint for modern day local hip hop impresarios with label ambitions. He is also the founder of SlikourOnLife, which is described as “an urban culture website that caters for music fans through music; visual content, artist interviews, exclusive downloads, and event coverage.”
33. Ningi Mhinga
(Photo: According to Jerri)
Ningi Mhinga is one of the most influential decision makers in South Africa as far as urban culture and sports and cultural brands are concerned. He is the Marketing Manager of Nike South Africa, a brand which has been at the forefront of local culture for years. Under his leadership, the Nike has built a tremendous amount of brand equity within the culture with a consistent presence. The brand has also maintained a competitive edge and has been voted ‘Overall Coolest Brand’, ‘Coolest Clothing Brand’, ‘Coolest Brand Slogan’, and ‘Coolest Footwear Brand in the 2017 Sunday Times Generation Next awards.
32. Lulama Wolf
Lulama Wolf is one of South Africa’s leading fashion bloggers and influencers. The Johannesburg-based fashion culturist is famed for her unique aesthetic and visual curation. Lulama’s influence has resulted in her working with numerous local brands. Her artistic inclination and creative prowess has also seen her influence extend internationally, which we’ve witnessed recently with her ground-breaking collaboration with H&M.
31. Nomuzi Mabena
After winning the MTV Base Search in 2012, Nomuzi Mabena has carved out one of the most multifaceted careers in the entertainment industry. She’s one of the top presenters in the country, has made a pervasive impact with her distinct style and daring fashion choices and has dived into the music industry with a fully-fledged rap career. Nomuzi has also focused on expanding her business prowess by launching her very own recorb label, Nomuzi Mabena Music.
30. Austin Malema
Austin Malema is a Johannesburg-based photographer known for his ability to capture the most beautiful moments at events. Born in Limpopo, Austin moved to Johannesburg and attended AFDA. Having studied editing and cinematography, photography seemed like an easy and authentic transition that he soon realized was a more preferable alternative for him whilst working as an editor. Malema’s social media platforms have become the go-to destinations for quality imagery and the best coverage of events, behind-the-scenes and red carpet moments.
29. George Avakian
Whilst many may be familiar with George Avakian the talented beatboxer and artist, George’s portfolio extends beyond his artistry as he has become one of the most important decision-makers in South Africa’s live performance arena. He is the Director of Steyn Entertainment, which owns Rocking the Daisies and In The City music festivals. Under George’s guidance, Rocking the Daises has expanded its hip hop line-up immensely, something he is committed to extending over the next few years.
28. Until Until
Founded in 2013, Until Until began organically as a natural progression of braais and house parties amongst friends and has grown to become one of the most electrifying movements within the local event circuit. Compromised of a collective of friends and business partners, Until Until has exemplified what a group of passionate, hungry and inspired people can truly achieve. Their vision encompasses pushing creative boundaries in the form of their experiential events and making a notable cultural impact.
27. Thatiso Dube
Thatiso Dube is the founder of leading streetwear brand, GalxBoy. The brand has been one of the most consistent over the years, delivering popular collections season after season. After the brand’s steady rise, Thatiso opened his first retail store, which is currently based in Pretoria. Thatiso has also become one of the most credible voices in local streetwear, constantly offering commentary on the state of South African streetwear. He is an individual who has unequivocally helped move the culture forward.
Twitter: @Vuittots / @GALXBOY
26. Da L.E.S
Da L.E.S has had a long and illustrious career in entertainment that has spanned ten years and seen him move from from being part of a group, Jozi, to a successful solo career. He has pioneered a crunk, and later, trap sound in SA and redefined hip hop artistry locally. As a cultural influencer, his flair is unmistakable, evident in his various brand collaborations and reaching its zenith in his infamous All White Pool Party. Da L.E.S also hosts the growing North God Concert series which sees his Fresh 2 Def team take over massive venues in Joburg. This year L.E.S also formed joint ventures with rising local stars Gemini Major and Yanga Chief.
25. Zaid Osman
(Photo: Warrien Papier)
Zaid Osman is the founder of Sneaker Exchange, “Africa’s biggest sneaker event,” and the founder of Lost Propety, a retail store in Cape Town catering to the city’s sneaker devotees. Sneaker Exchange is South Africa’s premier sneaker event and encompasses the business of sneakers, music and culture. It sees sneakerheads from different cities converge to buy, trade and sell some of the hottest kicks on the market. Zaid has created two powerful properties that have grown South African sneaker culture tremendously and transformed them into a credible and profitable avenue for true sneaker aficionados.
24. Thithi Nteta
One of the early adopters of blogging in South Africa, Thithi Nteta has risen to become one of the leading local fashion bloggers, influencers and tastemakers. Over and above her leading style, Thithi was part of The Other Girls, a collective of talented and driven women who founded and ran The Weeknd Social, which was one of the most celebrated event offerings in Johannesburg. Thithi is also a creative entrepreneur who has successfully ventured into PR space and now serves as the Integrated Executive Business Director at leading advertising agency, FCB Africa.
23. Anthony Bila
(Photo: Chisanga Mubanga)
Artist, videographer, photographer and blogger are but a few of many ways to describe Anthony Bila. From exhibitions at the Swedish Embassy in Stockholm, features in New York Magazine & The Wall Street Journal, to playing himself in films that were shown at Cannes Film Festival, Anthony Bila is a man of many talents. Known for his amazing brand collaborations with major players such as Woolworths, Mr. Price, Topman UK, Wrangler, Grazia France, i-D Magazine and other brands respectively, his blog-and fashion photography that takes on a very afrocentric approach and focuses on bringing African fashion to the world, the self-taught photographer has accomplished a great deal and made an indelible mark in the local and international creative industry.
22. Mathew Kieser
Mathew Kieser is easily one of the most influential individuals within South African streetwear. He’s the founder and owner of SOL SOL, one of the leading local streetwear brands. SOL SOL has been a staple for local streetwear aficionados and has collaborated with leading retailer, Woolworths, as part of the widely popular StyleBySA range. Mathew is also a partner at Corner Store, Cape Town’s leading streetwear store.
21. Osmic Menoe
Osmic Menoe founded Ritual Stores in his late teens and went on to found the Ritual Media Group. This lover of hip hop culture has dedicated his time to furthering it and the biggest product of that effort is the Back to the City festival hosted annually in Newtown. One of the biggest in the country, it’s a dedication to hip hop and all its facets. This year the event attracted over 10 000 people and saw over two dozen international and local artists take to the stage. He’s also gone on to found the SA Hip Hop Awards in 2011 and the SA Hip Hop Summit in 2016.
Twitter: Osmic Menoe / @BacktothecitySA
20. Scoop Makhathini
Siyabonga Ngwekazi is a local TV presenter and creative entrepreneur. Famed from his BoyzNBucks days and as a presenter of a number of culturally impactful shows, Scoop has always held a pivotal role in shaping local culture. Scoop is also one of the directors of Parental Advisory Productions, a young, vibrant, fully black-owned Film and Television Production company that has produced numerous shows for Mzansi Magic, Vuzu and Channel O.
19. Loot Love
Loot Love’s palatable confidence and distinct personal style have distinguished her within South Africa’s competitive entertainment industry. The multitalented personality is one of the top presenters in the country, co-hosts one of the biggest hip hop radio shows in the land and has collaborated with Footwork. Loot is also one of the biggest devotees of the culture, whether is supporting local artists or adding to her sneaker collection. The culture is definitely part of her DNA.
18. Cedric Nzaka
Kenyan-born creative Cedric Nzaka is currently one of the most notable and influential photographers in South Africa. Known for his enchanting portraits of everyday people on the streets of Johannesburg, Cedric captures the beauty of real people in real settings in the most authentic way. Cedric states that his first interaction with photography stemmed from his mother who dabbled in photography, taking pictures at family events and gatherings. Nzaka is behind Everydaypeoplestories, an online platform which has now turned into an outlet for young creatives to share their work. His portfolio includes work for brands such as Toyota, Amstel, SA Fashion Week and Mr Price, to name a few.
17. Twiggy Moli
Tshepang Mollison, popularly known as Twiggy, has risen to become one of the most impactful and game-changing bloggers in the country. With her exceptional beauty, infectious personality and fierce individuality, she emerged as a leading tastemaker, brand collaborator and has elevated to make notable strides as one of the most revered influencers in the game. Her astounding work for the likes of Levi’s, Spier Wines and Fila has set her apart.
Laduma Ngxokolo is a knitwear designer behind the brand Maxhosa by Laduma whose creations are inspired by the isiXhosa culture. Establishing his brand in 2011, Laduma saw a need for traditional isiXhosa regalia suitable for Amakrwala (Xhosa initiates). Primarily using mohair and wool, which he sources locally, the label comprises of exquisitely made isiXhosa inspired knitwear patterned pieces. Maxhosa by Laduma has expanded its brand into homeware; creating patterned rugs, cushions and blankets. A revered designer in South Africa, Laduma has also received international praise; in 2015 he won the Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa prize which saw him showcase his collections at the Palazzo Morando Show in Milan, Italy. He also received a shout out from Beyoncé, who featured his work on her website which was displayed in Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.
15. DJ Speedsta
DJ Speedsta may be one of the youngest hip hop DJs in the game, but his impact has earned him the respect of his OGs. He’s risen to take one of the prime positions in the industry as one of the most in demand hip hop DJ’s, co-hosts one of the biggest hip hop radio shows in the country and dropped one of the biggest hip hop anthems of the past year. Speedsta has elevated emerging hip hop acts by extending his platform and brought them mainstream recognition. He’s passionate, hungry and committed to furthering the local hip hop industry.
14. Maps Maponyane
The charismatic Masego “Maps” Maponyane is one of South Africa’s most influential public figures. The multifaceted star is a television presenter, actor, fashion collaborator, speaker, model, creative consultant, voice over artist, philanthropist and entrepreneur. Maps has also amassed widespread influence and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the country, including Samsung and Investec. He is known for his talent, fashion sense, charm, innovation, versatility and good looks.
13. Fred Kayembe
Fred Kayembe is a gifted presenter, hip hop commentator and former Editor of Hype Magazine. Fred has offered critical commentary on the state of local hip hop and been an important proponent of emerging new talent. As the former Hype Magazine Editor, he led one of the biggest hip hop institutions in South Africa and shaped the publication’s impact on the local industry. Since his departure from Hype Magazine, Fred has hosted Toyota Live, a show which offers established and emerging acts a platform to showcase their performance skills. He has also become part of the Monster Energy team, formed part of the Castle Lite Presents: Extra Cold Table and founded his own company.
Kwesta has had one hell of a year. After collecting his platinum plaque for Dakar II which spawned the multi-platinum Ngud, the diminutive rapper casually proceeded to Sun City in May where he scooped up a record-breaking 6 awards. He then went on an ATL tour where he headlined shows alongside T.I. and Hustle Gang. What a hustle! Kwesta’s story exemplifies the power of perseverance. The Katlehong native has been at it for over 10 years now and only really started blowing up last year. Kwesta started off back in the day hanging out and rapping alongside Skwatta Kamp and thereafter went on to sign with Slikour’s Buttabing Entertainment where he got to understand the intricacies of the music business. He now has his entire career in his own hands as the owner of his own record label and clothing line. Applaud him!
Website: @ kwestadakar
11. T-bo Touch
Thabo Molefe aka T-bo Touch is a giant in South African broadcasting and entertainment spheres. While living in the US Touch interned at Def Jam and struck friendships with the likes of Akon and Chaka Zulu (Ludacris’ business partner), early signs that Touch was hungry for a bigger seat at the table and was willing to do whatever was necessary to get to the top. Upon his return to SA Touch tried his hand at radio and famously got ridiculed because of his American-influenced twang and bravado. He didn’t allow the naysayers to rattle him; he kept it moving and eventually landed the biggest show on Metro FM. The average man would have been satisfied and remained in that position for years but not Touch, he had bigger dreams, so he quit after a few years and started his own radio station called Touch HD. Touch and partners invested over R28 million in the station and are leading the online and digital radio wave.
10. Asanda Sizani
The beautiful and talented Asanda Sizani is one of the most passionate and talented members of South Africa’s fashion fraternity. Asanda’s creative output has been spread a number of local publications. Her roles as the Fashion Editor of Elle South Africa, Destiny and Destiny Man have resulted in her being hailed as a one of the most respected local creatives.
9. Sylvester Chauke
Sylvester Chauke is a multiple award-winning dynamo of the local marketing industry. The award-winning impresario is armed with a unique marketing brain and an infectious spirit that warms up any room that he walks into. As founder and head ‘architect’ of DNA Brand Architects, he leads a team of young, energetic marketers who conceptualise and execute PR and social media campaigns for brands such as Edgars, Steers, Vodacom, Pernod Ricard and SAB. Sylvester also manages the Bonang brand and has helped position her as a leading SA entertainment brand. Prior to founding DNA, Sylvester worked as Marketing Director at both Nando’s and MTV Africa where he led those brands to the top of the advertising world with numerous awards won.
Innocent Mukheli, Vuyo Mpantsha and Justice Mukheli are the trio behind ISeeADifferentYou. These three storytellers launched ISADY as a platform to exhibit a more positive side of their hometown Soweto that was not being depicted in mainstream media. Struggle, poverty and historical events which were plagued by negativity are some of the things that may come to mind when thinking of Soweto; they were determined to show a different, more positive side of the area. Since its inception in 2011, the trio has worked with countless brands and has now turned their project into a multifaceted creative business.
7. Nkateko Mabaso
Nkateko Mabaso is a visionary TV man who has been at the forefront of M-Net’s revolution and transcendence into urban culture. Nkateko currently serves as Group GM of M-Net; prior to that he was Head of Local Entertainment Channels and helped oversee popular brands such as Vuzu TV, Channel O, Mzansi Magic et al. Nkateko has championed South Africa urban culture in all of his positions in the past decade and has helped give young people a formidable voice. In the process he has empowered dozens of entrepreneurs who have gone on to start profitable production companies that employ hundreds of people. His contributions to South Africa are undeniable.
6. Nasty C
At the tender age of 20, Nasty C’s presence has sent a ripple effect through the entire SA music industry. He emerged with one of the dopest local mixtapes we’ve heard in years, dropped his acclaimed debut album featuring audio from Cassper Nyovest about what a potent impact he has had. After a great deal of speculation regarding which label he would sign to and after he was rumoured to be in talks with Roc Nation, Nasty C signed with Mabala Noise, arguably the most discussed hip hop label in the country. From a blazing freestyle on Sway in the Morning, affiliations with brands such as Puma and Mercedes Benz and a stellar series of music videos with Kyle Lewis, as well as his lyrical prowess and immaculate flow, Nasty C has unequivocally shifted the state of SA hip hop for the better.
AKA is South Africa’s biggest hip hop star. The talented entertainer has electrified stages and dances floors with his string of iconic hits and polarized the entire industry. After two immaculate albums and his countless collaborations, it’s impossible to even fathom South African hip hop without AKA. He’s transcended traditional hip hop sets with the additional of a skilled live brand, collaborated with Head Honcho on a Supa Mega Show range, signed a multi-million rand deal with Cruz Vodka and established his own company, The Beam Group. AKA has an enormous influence on SA pop culture; he remains one of the most talked about local stars and tops the charts with every hit he delivers.
4. Cassper Nyovest
Cassper’s rise in the South African hip hop sphere has been nothing short of meteoric. He has won over fans with anthems such as Gusheshe and Doc Shebeleza, has released three studio albums, with Thuto receiving critical acclaim. Cassper has also evolved into an astute businessman, he is the founder and CEO of Family Tree record label, has had multi-million rand deals with multiple brands and recently opened up his own store in Joburg exclusively stocking branded merchandise. Cassper has also been hailed for successfully embarking on some of the most ambitious musical endeavors we’ve witnessed locally, Fill Up The Dome and Fill Up Orlando Stadium.
3. Riky Rick
Riky Rick is a hip hop artist, producer, tastemaker, fashion aficionado, aspiring film maker and cultural influencer. His incredible rise within the South African hip hop fraternity has been an incredible one to witness. He has gone against the grain, challenged the status quo and redefined what it means to be an artist. Constantly striving to defy his own standards, and subsequently, that of the industry, has resulted in continuous creative progression becoming one of his most defining characteristics. Riky’s influence has also permeated the South African international fashion landscape; we’ve seen him party with A$AP Rocky, Daily Paper and received a personal invite to Gucci’s fashion show from Creative Director, Alessandro Michele.
2. Bonang Matheba
Bonang is unequivocally South Africa’s most bankable star. She’s South Africa’s most gifted presenter, a fashion icon and an institution within the local entertainment industry. Her profuse talent reflects in every facet of her life and this year has been one of the biggest of her career; she’s presenting a brand new show, launching her own reality show, released her book and is launching her own series of personalized emojis. Bonang also continues to lend her tremendous star power to brands such as Revlon, Ipanema and Courvoisier as their brand ambassador.
1. Black Coffee
Black Coffee is easily the biggest name in South African music right now. The hard-working DJ with humble beginnings is currently flying our flag high with a residency at Hi, one of Ibiza’s biggest dance clubs. In between that gig the KZN native handles a grueling schedule that sees him zipping all over Europe, the US and South Africa. Black Coffee featured on Drake’s last chart-topping album More Life and in the process made his debut on the coveted Billboard Top 100 charts, a first for a South African musician. Black Coffee is rumoured to be producing songs for Swiss Beatz, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and P. Diddy. It was also just announced that he has taken a considerable stake in Zone 6, Soweto’s home of culture and urban entertainment. Black Coffee’s story is one of dedication, perseverance and the power of humility.