Hip hop lists are always incredibly divisive. Rap is intrinsically competitive, everyone is vying for a position, so you’re almost always guaranteed to offend someone because of who you’ve included or who you’ve omitted.
However, as hip hop journalists, and to an extent, custodians of this culture that we love so much, we were excited at the prospect of gathering intel on who’s bubbling under locally and who’s set to reach that elusive tipping point.
Over the past two decades we’ve seen the likes of Skwatta Kamp, Prokid, AKA, Khuli Chana, JR, just to name a few, come from relative obscurity and reach the pinnacle of fame and riches that many would die for.
It all seems to happen overnight but you see the thing is, there’s no such thing as overnight success, not in any industry and certainly not in hip hop. The road to success is paved with countless potholes and obstacles that many are unable to surmount. Only the truly special ones came out on the other side victorious. And even then they might not have what it takes to maintain their position in the game. One hit wonders and the sophomore jinx are real things people!
In the immortal words of Lord Gucci Manedela, “If a man does not have the sauce, then he is lost. But the same man can be lost in the sauce”. Dear rapper, do you have the sauce?
This list that we’ve compiled is made up of MC’s who are hungry, talented, and resourceful. They are not short on vision and ambition. If you have never heard of them chances are you will … very soon!
Criteria used for this list is as follows:
- Talent – Yes, your 16 is ill but can you construct a dope song? Can you create a song that will have a huge impact on the culture. How good is your ear? Can you find a gem of a beat or sample in a hard drive full of instrumentals?
- Hustle – It’s one thing being to record dope music but are you getting it out there? Is your music on Tidal, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Simfy Africa (besides Soundcloud)? Are you getting your videos play-listed? Are you generating positive PR in relevant publications? Are you racking up shows?
- Following – An MC without a following is like a shepherd without a flock. You ain’t got shit homie. How well are you building your own support base? You can’t wait for record labels anymore, this ain’t the 90’s fam.
- Image – Great hip hop artists are more than just rappers, they are brands. Image is everything in hip hop. If you do not have a vision for your personal brand then you probably won’t blow up, commercially at least.
- Stage Performance – You can’t call yourself an MC if you can’t rock a show. The best in the game know how to get the audience to eat from the palm of their hands by putting on stellar shows.
- Nasty C
19 years old and spitting like a seasoned veteran, Nasty C is that dude! A plethora of offerings, two EPs and the critically acclaimed ‘Price City Mixtape’; tons of respect from rappers twice his age and add to that, a meeting with Roc Nation. Nasty has been called the future of South African rap and it is evident the boy still has gallons of juice in him. 2016 WILL be the year he shines and it will be a spectacular view if what he has amassed thus far is anything to go by. Roc Nation, give the kid that deal!
- Priddy Ugly
Richardo Moloi, better known as Priddy Ugly, is definitely a rapper on the come-up to watch out for. He ascends with each release and his mixtape, You Don’t Know Me Yet, released earlier this year definitely propelled him into a new league. Born in Angola and bred in South Africa, Priddy Ugly has defined his own sound and his palpable hunger and tenacity are sure to secure him a notable place in the rap game.
- Big Star Johnson
In an industry where talent show winners fizzle out quicker than effervescent tablets in deep waters, we’re interested to see if Big Star has what it takes to succeed. We think he does! He’s currently riding airwaves with ‘My Year’ featuring Aewon Wolf. Big Star stands to be an interesting act to watch out for 2016.
2016 is proving to be the come-up season for young, emerging, hip hop talent. At only 19, A-Reece has dropped his enthralling single, ‘Couldn’t’, featuring fellow Ambitiouz Entertainment signee, Emtee; and is set to drop his debut album this year. His support structure (Ambitiouz) will definitely ensure that he’s at the front of the pack.
“F*ck a top ten list my numbers is 021.” That was Youngsta’s unapologetic message to the industry when he dropped ‘Top 10 List’. A prolific rapper and lyrical beast, Youngsta has made his play for 2016 very clear. His message is simple, you will acknowledge him. This Cape Town thoroughbred is here to stay. Stik uit!
- Shane Eagle
Shane Eagle was introduced to us by the reality talent show The Hustle. He battled it out with fellow aspiring rappers, ultimately making it to the The Hustle’s Top 4. At only 20 years old, Shane is arguably the most marketable rapper of all the contestants who took part in the show. He has the attitude, the ego and the charisma required to be a star, and with his undeniable verse on DJ Switch’s Now or Never, proved that he can hold his own against the most seasoned rappers in the game.
- Kid Tini
At the tender age of 19, Kid Tini has dropped one of the most cohesive mixtapes we’ve heard in South Africa in a minute. Coming of Age is not only a testament to his journey so far, but his ability to pen countless gems. There’s a maturity and panache in Tini’s delivery and content that belies his age. This kid will give some old heads in the game a few sleepless nights this year.
The former Skhanda Queen, is now rolling solo. After a little over a year as the First Lady of the Cashtime Life squad, Nomuzi Mabena aka Moozlie, is now on her own. With attention shifting onto women on the mic in recent times, Moozlie is a must-watch, particularly after releasing her explosive ‘Solo Troop’ freestyle and hit single ‘Bongo Zaka’ alongside Rouge.
Maraza dropped the smoking AM EP featuring Gwan, which is steadily working its way to become a hit. He can rap his ass off, drop the most melodic hooks and make tracks that the turn-up massive will love. His EP is solid, and after being in the game for years, it finally feels like the stars are aligned for this MC. Our money is definitely on him to make an impact on the local scene this year.
- Uno July
Yes, Uno is not a newcomer to the local hip hop scene, far from it actually. As one half of the dynamic CPT duo Ill Skillz, Uno helped pave the way for a lot of MC’s in the Western Cape scene. After putting Ill Skillz on ice the diminutive MC the went solo and he’s been hustling hard since. He dropped his Best Kept Secret EP recently and his featured on big festivals locally and in the States. It’s never easy carving out a solo path after spending years in a group but we believe the Gugs native has what it takes to take his solo career to new heights.
In true hip hop fashion we have some bonus cuts for you. These are dudes that couldn’t quite crack the Top 10 but you might wanna keep an ear out for them nevertheless.
Patrick LEE and The Cabin
Part of the collective, The Cabin, Patrick LEE has been making silent moves in industry. He has produced music for Cassper Nyovest, and he and his collective released the wavy track Dark Party earlier this year. Their sound is best described as a cross between Travis Scott and PartyNextDoor and definitely a sound the wavy kids will dig.
Simmy Simmy Nya
Simphiwe Peta aka Simmy Simmy Nya is a Cape Town-based MC with an affinity for elusive and wavy trap sounds. He has built himself a cult-like following at UCT through delivering bangers after bangers via his soundcloud page. His versatility is his strength; his lyrical dexterity is showcased in vernac or English. Watch out for this kid and please remember the Nya!
Share your thoughts with us. What do you think of our list? Who would you have added? Who do you think does not belong on the list?