To help you to get deeper into the music we explored in South Africa Today, we are giving you some more information about the artists featured in the program. So dive in!
If only those who want it most succeed in the music industry, then it’s no wonder that iFani’s career has started to heat up. He left a good job as an engineer to rap and was then signed by Sony, dropped from Sony, offered another deal with Sony, had the deal taken away, was carjacked and kidnapped, and still stuck to the game long enough to craft “Chocolate and Vanilla”, his first radio hit. He’s smart, funny, and can spit’em out like a machine.
Okmalumkoolkat is enigmatic (check out his blog if you don’t believe us). A dexterous rapper, he spits in English with township swagger (That rhyme is ours though, let the record show. Oh, damn, that one, too! We’re on fire!) Lately, he’s been collaborating with London DJ trio LV on the productions, framing his rougher street style with the hippest electro trends.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but raised by his musical family in Johannesburg, Capso achieved early success as a rapper on a mainstream label. Since then, he has gone independent, in both business and in spirit. For more on Capso, read our interview with the artist here.
Dana is a physically small woman with a tremendous voice. Her sound is soulful, and she belts with an impressive power. But there’s always the sense that she’s holding something back, like maybe she knows something that you don’t and can’t fully let go because of that. Full of groove and touched by a feeling of mourning, Dana (and her crack band) have a truly unique sound. A listen offers explanation enough for why they’ve captivated audiences for years on end.
As young and fresh as they are, the a cappella group The Soil have raced up the charts in South Africa. The Soil is a smoother-than-smooth group with an endlessly optimistic, positive, and encouraging message, and it’s really seemed to resonate with South Africans.
Bulelwa Mkutukana was born in a rural settlement outside of East London, Easter Cape. Her stage name, Zahara, means “Blooming Flower” but as a child she was known as “Spinach.” She was only 23 when her first album of mellow afro-soul went double platinum in South Africa, in 2011. Since then she has won many awards, released a live DVD, and put out an EP dedicated to Nelson Mandela. Her second album, Phendula, was just released in September of 2013 and has already gone double platinum!
Mafikizolo is a former kwaito band that has retained their popularity by crossing over into house. The group has been plagued by tragedy, almost losing their lives in a car accident in 2001, and shortly thereafter losing their lead singer Tebogo Madingoane in a fatal shooting in 2004. The surviving members, Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza, have picked up the pieces, reuniting and topping the charts with house-tinged pop.
Spoek Mathambo is a relentlessly creative innovator. He raps, he sings, and he produces insanely eclectic music at a feverish rate, regularly dropping new mixtapes (often almost a mini-albums) for free download on his website.
A Pretoria township favorite, DJ Spoko apprenticed with the master of Shangaan Electro, Nozinja. He terms his own agressive style Bacardi House. Spoko has achieved some international recognition lately with his latest EP, Ghost Town, out on True Panther Sounds.
DJ Ganyani has twenty years in the South African house industry under his belt, but he’s really been taking off lately, working all over the country and achieving internet success with videos for tracks like “Xigubu.”
Right up there with the toppest most of the poppest most is Toya Delazy. Her videos are colorful, her sound is packed to the gills, and there’s more than one nod to Katy Perry in her hyper-American approach to pop music.
Comprised of two solo artists of considerable stature, Ish and Da L.E.S., Jozi is something of a South African power-duo. Between their popular solo and combination records and their mockumentary TV show, Moving The City, Jozi cut an impressive figure in the South African scene.
John Wizards is a brand new band with an exciting approach to electro-pop music, blending everything from Shangaan Electro to highlife to dub into a swirling, fragmented musical style. Band leader John Withers and singer Emmanuel Nzaramba have both traveled and lived in many countries across the African continent, and their cosmopolitan outlook is clear on their debut record, out on Planet Mu Records in the UK.