10 GREAT SOUTH AFRICAN VERSES OF 2014 SO FAR
From posse tracks – which we’ve seen many of in SA hip hop this year – to crew and clique efforts, rap verses come in variations. The level of emcee skills on songs may or may not be of the same level but heads will always single one winner.
Though the essence of hip hop goes beyond who killed who on a track, it still remains an amusing topic to discuss. Emotions take over as egos get bruised when consensus isn’t on your favourite rapper’s favour but it is what it
is. In no particular order, here’s my list of ten of the best
South African verses of 2014 so far.
All verses are from collaborative or group efforts.
10. GIGI LAMAYNE ON TUMI – “HELLO KITTY” REMIX
The remix to Tumi Molekane’s flirtation with pop “Hello Kitty” featured an all-female guestlist in the form of Nova, Pelonomi, Nadia Nakai, and Gigi LaMayne to commemorate woman’s month. Placed at the last segment of the tune, Gigi’s verse which comes after Nadia’s attempt, must have earned the emcee a legion of new Twitter followers. She throws some Zulu between a mostly-English verse reminding women of their value.
9. FONZO ON E-JAY FT FONZO AND
YOUNGSTA – “HOSH” (REMIX)
Cape Town-based Angolan emcee E-Jay’s decision to feature Fonzo and Youngsta on the remix to “Hosh” worked against him. Another mistake was placing Fonzo on the first verse. Fonzo rages over producer Tweezy’s droning bassline and spacious pads. He shows no mercy throughout his verse with an audible go-go flow and in the words of Phil, the last four bars of his verse should bring fear to any
man. Special shouts to Youngsta, his verse is also a stellar display of skill. But not even he could stop Fonzo on this one. DOWNLOAD: E-JAY – Hosh (Remix) feat. Fonzo & Youngsta
8. CASSPER NYOVEST ON L-TIDO –
“STEVE KEKANA” REMIX
A large portion of hip hop heads question hitmaker Cassper Nyovest’s rap skills (I admit I’m one of them). He has proven himself to be one of those emcees that will ooze lacklustre and, on some songs,then take you by surprise with well-written and delivered bars on another effort. His verse on L-Tido’s “Steve Kekana” remix alongside Maggz, Ma-E, and of course L-Tido, is an instance of the latter case. He spat with the hunger of the rookie he was (and still is?). “Where would I be if I hadn’t believed?/
I got my toes up and I’m running
out of fingers counting odds we managed to
beat,” he raps.
7. OKMALUMKOOLKAT ON REASON FEATURING AKA AND OKMALUMKOOLKAT – “BUMP THE CHEESE UP” REMIX
Reason felt the need to reiterate the demand for what he’s worth financially. It made sense to include AKA – who has been ranting about how corporate brands who engage wit hip hop aren’t paying artists what they are worth – on the remix to “Bump the Cheese Up”. Both AKA and Reason make their statement well and the message gets heard loud and clear, but Okmalumkoolkat’s verse churns out the most quotables. He carries his words with his trademark nonchalant delivery. More importantly this time around, the pantsula delivers serious money on wax.
“You need to check my catalogue, ungazi nge-feature/
Ama-beats enz’amasimba, i-flow i-six nine/
They nice with the freestyles, mina ng’yabiza,” he brags.
He also goes on to spit:
“Brothers wanna hate, but I’m cool with
their sisters/ Ayikh’i-album i-album but we
trending on Twitter” .
The rhyme construction is mean!
6. AKA ON ICE PRINCE FEATURING AKA
– “N-WORD” REMIX
Nigerian rapper, Ice Prince invited the self-proclaimed prince of South African rap, AKA rap to assist him on the remix of his trap-influenced “N-word”. Taking the second verse, AKA’s 16-bar-long relationship with this beat becomes an abusive one. His flow becomes one with it – he fills up its pauses and compliments it with effete quotables such as “I’m at the airport/ In my Air Force/ Fuck the world put her legs by the headboard”. Delivery-wise, AKA fails to disappoint. But that has always been his strongest trait anyway.
5. K.O. ON K.O. FEATURING KID X –
With a record-breaking ONE MILLION YouTube views, one third of rap crew Teargas K.O.’s “Caracara” is easily the biggest South African hip hop song of 2014 so far. Assisted by another member of the Cashtime Life family, Kid X, K.O. dropped a game-changing verse over the DJ Mustard production-reminiscent monotonous melody and incessant bassline. He successfully merged kwaito and hip hop by adopting the repetitive nature of kwaito lyrics while delivering tightly packed rhymes. He paints a vivid picture of the hedonistic life of the new age pantsulas typified by excessive drinking and shameless lust.
4. REASON ON CYHI THE PRYNCE
FEATURING REASON AND WELL$ –
G.O.O.D Music’s Cyhi The Prince roped in Motif Records’ golden boy Reason for the remix to his “Mandela” song. The Jo’burg emcee walks over those eardrum-wrecking kicks and eerie Zulu warrior chants with rage. He maintains a uniform flow pattern and cadence throughout his verse. He’s one for political correctness either; sample lyrics include:
“I feel like David Motsamai/
My original self is tryna’ hide/
‘cause the system itself ain’t really right/
All the realest in the world never stayed alive”.
The East Rand-born emcee takes us through his achievements and (I imagine) makes the late ex-president proud of his contributions to the struggle. Rumour has it that Cyhi The Prince and Well$ also raps on this song.(SHOTS FIRED!!)
3. SOLO On Solo – “STARDUST” Remix Featuring ProVerb & Tumi
Newcomer Solo was honoured by verses from two of South Africa’s finest lyricists – Proverb and Tumi – on the remix of “Stardust”, his mainstream debut song released in May 2013. Tumi and Proverb set the bar high on the first two verses, and Solo skilfully eases into the third verse over spacious keys and pads effortlessly delivering mouthfuls such as:
“I’ll ignore you like the sceptics that came before you/
Royal orders climbing over royal borders/
Work to my morals/
Won’t rest on my laurels/
‘til my voice’s incapable of orals/
and you rest the florals on my tomb/” .
Solo’s high-precision delivery easily puts him in the same league as his two veteran guests.
2. JIMMY FLEXX On Ill Skillz Featuring Camo – “Hip Hop Jones”
Nine years deep into the game, the Cape Town rap duo – Tommy Jinxx and Jimmy Flexx – known as Ill Skillz has not showed any signs of slowing down. Taking the third verse, finishing off what Tommy Jinxx and guest Camo had started on the first and second verses respectively, he manages to weave the correlation between street life and street culture into the first four bars of his verse:
“Well, in a city where the blacks marginalised/
In the ghettos where the crack crystal
meth is the cause of the turf
wars, gang culture, violent crime/ (?)
organise (?) Emile tryna heal the hood,
Beatbangaz in the Scratch Lab” .
With a nonchalant delivery only he can master, he just makes it look easy.
1. K.O. On AKA Featuring K.O – “Run Jozi (GODLY)”
The last time these two were on a track together ( DJ Vigi’s “God’s Will”), K.O. was a clear winner. The verdict remains the same this time around as the Cashtime Life frontman annihilates his competition and leaves himself with no further challengers. He brings hood to downtown Jozi and manages to pack subtle social commentary and braggadocios bars in the 16 bars allocated to him over producer Tweezy’s falsetto horns. The fact that both emcess bite Drake’s flow on
Migos’ “Versace” is one we will choose to
overlook for now.
A special mention to Kwesta, Gingertrill, and Okmalumkoolkat on Riky Rick – “Amantombazana”remix. Singling a winner on this one was quite tough.
It’s entirely okay to disagree with this list. It is, after all, not the gospel but an opinion made by Tumi (better known as Tumi from the Volume)