2019 has already delivered some stellar projects from the countries up and coming musicians, and with the bulk of the year still ahead of us, the output looks plentiful and promising. From familiar names to upstarts just beginning to show their worth, we’ll be running through some of the artists we think you should be paying attention to in the coming months.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
After impressing us with his masterful reinterpretation of the seminal South African hit, “We Are Growing”, we counted ourselves as devout converts to Muzi’s electric offerings. His debut album was a triumph and in 2019 the young artist has plans to take the goodwill he amassed in 2018 and spread it around the world. June will see Muzi head off to France for La Magnifique Society Festival in Reims, France. August has even more in store for Muzi fans in the northern hemisphere as he takes the stage at non other than Afropunk alongside other artist flying the flag of South African excellence, DJ Kenzhero, DJ Doowap and Thandiswa. Keep a keen eye on Muzi as he continues to expand the profile of alternative and electronic South African music.
Afrobeat is growing in popularity with the number of foreign artists co-opting its sounds and aesthetics steadily rising all the time. The latest act to make a strong case for Afrobeat’s global dominance is Manu Worldstar; if ever their was a name to match an artists lofty ambitions, this is it. A South African of Congolese decent, Manu’s sound has classic Afrobeat elements with his a smooth vocal delivery reminiscent, if only slightly, of Drake at his most emotive. His most well known single, “NaLingi”, meaning, “I love” in his native Lingala, introduced him to the world and made the top 10 on a number of local charts – unsurprising, given the song’s sing-ability. His latest, “Future Plan,” is another demonstration of his talent and appeal. Get familiar.
It’s never been a better time to be a female MC and there’s no reason why the the Americans – Tierra Whack, Cardi B – and the British – Stefflon Don – should have all the fun. Enter Dee Koala, a breath of fresh air we never knew we needed. Hailing from Cape Town, a region not noted for delivering genre reinvigorating talents like Dee, she first caught the eye of Riky Rick in 2018 and looks poised for wider recognition this year. Given the ubiquity of trap music within Hip Hop and the greater pop music landscape, it’s difficult for trap rappers to stand out. Dee’s fierce energy, clever punchlines and effortless switches between English and Xhosa make for a potent concoction of talents and a very interesting young artist.
One of the best voices in the country belongs to Langa Mavuso. His voice lifts and embraces from the first note while effortlessly conveying emotion through his neo-soul lens. “Sunday Blues”, his breakout single, endeared him to his fans and set him up as a crooner for the modern South African listener, but collaborations with Spoek Mathambo and the aforementioned Muzi have demonstrated a versatility that will hopefully translate into a full length project sometime this year.
Expect to hear a lot more of Rowlene in the coming months as she steps out from the shadow of some very prominent artists to define her own place as a vocalist. As a protege of Nasty C, Rowlene has had her career accelerated to it’s current level where her unmissable performance on Nasty C’s latest hit “SMA” carries the song completely. It will be difficult to follow up what is the biggest track of her career with a hit so soon but her latest, alongside Gemini Major, is a step in the right direction and proof that she has what it takes to court the big names and deliver big performances.
Don’t let the name throw you off, Cheekychizzy is a serious contender for one of our favourite about-to-blow-stars. The Nigerian artists made a name for himself as a close collaborator of The Wire favourite and “King of Afrobeat”, D’banj. Since then, Cheeky – an Afrobeat powerhouse in his own right – has signed a major label deal with Sony Music to go along with the release of “Kokoma,” his bouncy yet laid back guide to wooing his lover. Focused, confident and backed by the biggest in the game, Cheekychizzy is set to make a big impact on 2019