As we continue to shine the spotlight on the excellence of women during Women’s Month, QuenchSA celebrates 7 South African female artists who are smashing down doors and elevating the local creative industry in dope and transformative ways that push forward the business and culture.
“I’m probably the hardest working rapper in South Africa”, Nakai told QuenchSA exclusively in our July interview, in which she also distilled the journey that shaped the genesis, engineering and perfecting of her long awaited debut album, Nadia Naked.
It’s an album that forced fans to master patience. After eons of mounting anticipation, she delivered a solid project that was able to satiate appetites built through her impressive catalogue of catchy street bops that include Money Back and Naaa Meeaan.
2019 has turned out to be the year of Nadia Nakai, and it’s really reflective of the fullness of God’s timing.
Not only did she finally debut this album, she was also recently unveiled as the newest ambassador for global sportswear brand, Reebok. It’s as if she’s building a connecting career in the retail business, where she’s already seen successes with her own range, BRAGGA, currently sold at Sportscene.
There’s lots more, as far as big career milestones are concerned, that we can detail here. But Nadia Nakai has already expressed that nothing will top the release of Nadia Naked. It was an incredibly personal journey for her. “Some artists just put songs together and say it’s an album”, she said, shading the prevalence of mediocrity in passing, with no malicious motives. “It ripped me apart and put me back together.” Read the full interview here.
She gave us the biggest digital single of 2018, Collide. It’s an anthem that lavished the most soulful aspects of our tastes, daring us to take the mellow with the upbeat.
And such is the work of art that is Lazy Zamar, whose consistency on the charts since her debut is truly something to marvel at in the age of fleeting blow ups and flatlines. Her multi-platinum selling debut solo studio album, aptly entitled King Zamar, produced a slew of chart topping bangers, all with the distinction of being authentic love songs luxuriating dance instrumentals that fill dance floors all over the country.
Mind you, for all the meteoric success of that album, she was actually building on a killer catalogue, which boasts collaborative projects with Junior Taurus and Prince Kaybee, a rich discography that boasts such hits as Charlotte, Mamelodi, Cotton Candy and other certified smashes.
Proving that she’s not here to fumble the bag, the good sis in July premiered her sophomore album, Monarch.
The critically lauded project is a stunning showcase of Zamar’s beautiful artistry. She’s a talented songwriter, powerhouse vocalist and has a stage a presence to match it all. We see a Queen who is here to collect the credentials for the way to the throne. We stan a musical Khaleesi. Dracarys!
What Sho Madjozi represents is so much more than just the individual narrative, aesthetic and stylings of an individual Pop star.
Her presence in the mainstream frame of Pop culture scales much higher to capture a discourse that is so much more. At the heart of it, she represents a departure from the western seductions authorising what parts of the African self we choose to reveal and celebrate.
She’s every girl from a small village in Limpopo, or any other remote part of Africa, who has no clue how she ought to navigate this fiercely heterosexist, classed and raced world in which girls like her aren’t imagined, or structurally positioned, beyond that far from the starting point. That starting point, ya’ll, is pretty much nowhere.
Sho Madjozi says to us, ‘you are enough.’
“I guess for me the my story is a testament that you can be any girl from any village, in any forgotten part of the world”, she said in the acceptance speech of her milestone BET Africa win in June this year. “You can still be superstar.”
It’s easy to know that you can be a superstar when you watch Sho Madjozi, who emerged as one of the most talked about live performers at the Global Citizen Johannesburg concert, where she set the stage ablaze merely minutes before Cassper Nyovest and Beyoncé.
It makes sense that she would ascend to disrupt the old wave to affirm a new thinking about African sounds and the images that attend to them. Real name Maya Wegerif, the Kona hitmaker grew up travelling the African continent with her father, who worked for NGOs in countries like Tanzania, Senegal and beyond.
This continent-wide upbringing inspired her Pan African creative outlook and sound.
She’s easily one of the most country’s most gifted female vocalists. The riffs, agility, melisma and technique are unbelievable.
Having stamped her footprint in the South African music landscape with a slew of hits, including such bops as Back to The Beach and Let You Know, Shekhinah instantly became the voice of alternative pop and RnB – a genre that until the wave that brought us the likes of her and Sketchy Bongo, had always failed here.
In 2017, Suited became the definitive Pop anthem that blazed across radio stations and dance-floors nationwide.
The song solidified Shekhinah’s place as a force to be reckoned with in the local music business. It was just a start. Following the single’s commercial success, the Durbanite released her debut album, the critically lauded Rose Gold. The 12 track album spawned such hits as Please Mr and the beautifully lush collaborative RnB summer toon, Different, with Jamali’s Mariechan.
Our first encounter with Simmy was on Sun El-Musician’s Ntaba Ezikude. Her distinct smooth voice elevates the melodic Afro-Soul flavoured instrument delivered by Sun El-Musician on his acclaimed debut project.
The synchronicity in their work on this song is that it alone completely prepared everyone for what would come next; a SAMA award nominated masterpiece album from Simmy.
For an unknown artist to drop a full studio album is not a formula most labels endorse these days. You are expected to spend near a damn decade winning over the loyalties of your audiences before the ground can be declared fertile for an album.
Simmy’s Tugela Fairy completed defied these conventions and emerged as a surprise fire project in 2018, instantly making her a household name. The album has since spawned a number of hits, including the catchy Mahlalela.
What we find to be so significant about Simmy, in addition to the commercial success she’s had with her debut album, is that she’s found just the perfect blend of Pop and influences from traditional afro-soul. There’s parts of the album that easily remind one of iconic Maskandi girl groups, such as Izingane Zoma.
There’s not a lot of people who are aware that Moonchild Sanelly has been putting in the graft much longer than her recent explosion of back to back dance anthems. And when we say anthems, we means ones that include a song Beyoncé selected for one of her promos.
Because everything she touches has been turning gold for the last three years – so much so that a lot of people may work from the notion that she kinda popped out of nowhere and dominated the charts for three years straight, a lack of awareness of her work preceding her current commercial success doesn’t do justice to how hard Moonchild has actually worked to get to this point.
Moonchild Sanelly, whose debut album, Rabulapha!, has been the delight of the alternative techno and eletro scene since 2015, is certainly no overnight success.
To the this audience, she’s kind of epitomised this alternative energy, where she defiantly introduced African melodies and attitudes to the acidic worlds of techno, electro and EDM.
Her rise to the top has been steady, but so very well deserved. Moonchild Sanelly is refreshing in her rebellious approach to making music.
A black girl could always thrive in electric pop, and she demanded those very soundscapes to be elastic enough to celebrate the melodic trotting of a Xhosa girl who’s unafraid to expand the linguistic framework of the space.
In 2019, her biggest dream yet came true – working with Beyoncé. Months after performing at Coachella, Moonchild Sanelly laid down catchy vocals on the the chorus of My Power, one of the songs that appear on the soundtrack of Lion King: The Gift, an album curated by Beyoncé and a bevy of the world’s most sough after producers.
It’s all earned. Way before she unleashed such chart scorchers as Walk Ye Phara, Makhe and Midnight Starring, Moonchild was already that girl.
One thing Busiswa does well more than anything else is being Busiswa. The authentic approach she has to music allows her to grow, evolve, start a family, return back to the stage, and rock even more fiercely, with the same frequency and energy, because she draws the inspiration from the same source – herself.
Shooting to fame on DJ Zinhle’s My Name Is, Busiswa became an instant fan favourite thanks to her high energy, big stage presence and catchy hooks. But it’s the follow up that really defined her and set her apart in ways that continue having ripple effects to her wave. Her debut single Ngoku was that gorl. Being her breakout solo single, the song placed her at the epicentre of SA Pop culture.
Sustaining the momentum and adding on it to become the girl Beyoncé handpicked to appear on the soundtrack for The Lion King, Busiswa earned her stripes through the consistent dishing out of blockbuster smash chart toppers, an insane catalogue of #1s that includes Midnight Starring and Banomoya (although my personal favourite is the less hyped Ngqondo, which I think showcases the Afro Pop Queen she’s really equipped to be).
In 2017, Busiswa premiered Highly Flavoured, a 13 track project that delivered a seamless play of groovy dance tunes.
More than the albums, we can’t help but love Busiswa’s kick ass stage presence.
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