South African popular music might be having the best years it has had in recent history. Carrying on from the momentum gained during the pandemic and its lockdown/travel restrictions, 2022 has been one of the years artists get to eat the fruits of their hard labour.
Contemporary artists are touring, performing at the biggest global stages amongst the best the world has to offer. From the Grammys and Coachella to Ibiza and Afronation, everyone is outside and is putting out their best music while at it. South African music is part of the global African music conversation and the artists are doing their best to export the music.
Check out our picks for The Best South Africa Songs of 2022 So Far below.
9umba, TOSS & Mdoovar ‘uMlando’ ft. Sir Trill, Sino Msolo, Lady Du, Young Stunna & Slade
The hook “namhla senz’ umlando” (which loosely translates to ‘today, we’re making history’), along with its accompanying dance, which involves thrusting your hips side to side, has been one of the biggest cultural moments of 2022. After the initial dance video clip went viral, it sparked a social media challenge and stars like Lady Du, Young Stunna, Sir Trill and Sino Msolo jumped on the track. The platinum-selling hit has elevated the careers of producers 9umba, Mdoovar and vocalist Toss, and also received visual treatment for the fans to enjoy.
Venom x Shishiliza ‘Sondela’ ft. Yumbs, Raspy, Blxckie, Riky Rick, Tshego
This month, Venom and Shishiliza unleashed the follow-up to their star-studded first single “Sho Boy.” Their latest, “Sondela,” is yet another fiery collaboration from the duo, and a love song that dropped just in time for Valentines Day. The Yumbs-produced track features mesmerising vocals from Blxckie, Raspy, Tshego and the late rap icon and visionary Riky Rick. A crowd favourite this year, the song achieved platinum-selling status within a few months of release.
DBN Gogo, TNK MusiQ, DJ Stopper ‘Bells’ ft. Eltonk SA
DBN Gogo continued her hot streak by teaming up with emerging talent in TNK MusiQ, Eltonk SA and DJ Stopper for “Bells.” With a proven impeccable ear for bangers, Gogo has a knack for providing a platform for emerging talents, and “Bells” showcases the DJ’s prowess. The thumping instrumental is one of this year’s best Amapiano releases.
Daliwonga ‘Abo Mvelo’ ft. Mellow & Sleazy and M.J
New Money Gang Records artist Daliwonga connects with M.J and producer duo Mellow & Sleazy on his latest hit “Abo Mvelo.” The song went viral before its official release, which prompted its name change and subsequent drop. As a result, the infectious song shot to the top of the charts within a few hours of release. On “Abo Mvelo,” Daliwonga cleverly interpolates the refrain of Trompies and Lebo Mathosa’s 2005 song “Magasman.”
Uncle Waffles and Tony Duardo ‘Tanzania’ feat. Sino Msolo & Boibizza
DJ and viral internet sensation Uncle Waffles released her highly-anticipated debut single “Tanzania.” For the past few months, Waffles has been a constant topic on social media and she has capitalised on the hype by putting out her own music, packaging it on the EP Red Dragon. The song has absolutely catapulted Waffles’ star power and has solidified her as more than just an energetic DJ.
Pabi Cooper, Focalistic and Ch’cco ‘Banyana Ke Bafana’ ft. LuuDadeeja & Nobantu Vilakazi
Pabi Cooper joined forces with Focalistic and Ch’cco for her heart-throbbing new single “Banyana Ke Bafana.” The thumping song is the first official release under her own label, Cooper Entertainment. The captivating vocalist has figured a way of making her songs trend on TikTok by teasing and/or creating dance challenges/routines for them and “Banyana Ke Bafana” has proven that, yet again.
In April, Republic Records signee Lloyiso released his first single of the year. “Speak” is an emotive, piano-laden ballad that, like most of his songs, highlights his soothing voice. “This song was about a bad patch in a relationship I was in. We forgot how to speak to each other,” the talented singer/songwriter shared in an Instagram post.
Mellow & Sleazy x Justin99 ‘Chipi ke Chipi’
“Bopha” hit-makers and spearheaders of bacardi house-tinged amapiano Mellow & Sleazy put out a new banger simply titled “Chipi ke Chipi.” The song is a standout track off their latest EP Midnight in Sunnyside. The EP boasts collaborations with Madumane, M.J, Sizwe Alakine, the late Mpura and more.
Nomfundo Moh ‘Soft Life’
Fast rising singer-songwriter Nomfundo Moh released the visuals to her latest single “Soft Life,” taken from her chart-topping album Amagama. The music video brings to life the song’s message of coming from humble beginnings and working towards a comfortable, better life, “soft life” as it is commonly known. The musician recently graduated from university and the manifestation-fueled song played as she walked across the stage, a well deserved full circle for the musician whose career began shaping while at university.
Wanitwa Mos, Master KG & Lowsheen ‘Sofa Silahlane’ ft. Nkosazana Daughter
After the astounding success of their “Dali Nguwe,” Master KG via his imprint Wanitwa Mos taps Nkosazana Daughter for the follow-up “Sofa Silahlane.” Amongst a month filled with highly esteemed international releases, the song rose to the top the charts on Apple Music and has remained there thereafter. Doesn’t seem like Wanitwa Mos will be slowing down anytime soon.
MashBeatz ‘Never Ride’ ft. Thato Saul & Maglera Doe Boy
Producer MashBeatz links up with rapper Thato Saul yet again on “Never Ride,” after their 2021 collab project, If You Know, You Know. The energetic, trap-drenched track also features a highly impressive stellar verse from Maglera Doe Boy. The song has been one of the best South African hip hop releases this year.
Senior Oat ‘All In You’ ft. Kemy Chienda
Amongst the popularity of Amapiano and Afrohouse/tech, deep house remains a mainstay in South Africa’s highly competitive dance music scene. The gospel-tinged “All In You” has broken boundaries beyond its niche to become a crowd pleaser and chart topper.
Samthing Soweto ‘Amagents’
Talented singer-songwriter Samthing Soweto returned to the scene with “Amagents,” his first single in almost two years. On the hook of the heartfelt song, Samthing expresses sincerely that all men are the same and warns his daughter about them. “I wrote this song as an ode to being a father to a daughter in South Africa,” he shared.
Gaba Cannal & George Lesley ‘Healer Ntliziyo Yam’ ft. Russell Zuma
Amapiano pioneer Gaba Cannal and deep house maestro George Lesley teamed up for the soulful tune “Healer Ntliziyo Yam.” The track features the heartfelt vocals of rising singer/songwriter Russel Zuma.
Abidoza ‘Diamond Walk’ ft. Cassper Nyovest and DJ Sumbody
Having almost produced all the songs on Cassper Nyovest’s latest album, Abidoza reached out to the versatile rapper for his own track “Diamond Walk”. On the song, Cassper raps about the finer things in life, shouting out brands like Gucci, LV, and the South African-produced Drip. “Diamond Walk” is a single taken from Abidoza’s impressive album Black Child (It’s Possible).
Makhadzi ‘Kulakwe’ ft. Master KG
Open Mic Productions and Limpopo dance music heavyweight Makhadzi linked up with fellow label mate Master KG for her hit “Kulakwe.” The song, produced by the globally renowned Master KG, seamlessly blends Amapiano with bolo house, and sees the pair continue to prove their hit-making synergy.
Focalistic , Mellow and Sleazy & M.J ‘SJEPA’
Focalistic taps producers Mellow & Sleazy and M.J for his new single “Sjepa.” True to the amapiano’s essence, the Pretorian-natives pay homage and reignite the sjepa dance culture that was previously popular in their hometown and Johannesburg.
Sam Deep, Playgal ‘Kusezo Khanya’ ft. De Mthuda, Babalwa M, Sipho Magudulela
De Mthuda and his affiliates and artists signed to his Ace Of Spade imprint have been consistently dropping music since March. In early April, Sam Deep alongside Playgal released “Kusezo Khanya” with De Mthuda, vocalist Babalwa M and guitarist Sipho Magudulela.