But let me stick to the rivers and lakes that I’m used to. Sit back, relax and allow me to chauffeur you through some of the best and most notable moments in South African music in 2015.
Our first destination is the South African hip-hop scene. Mzansi hip hop is currently at its prime, as compared to previous years. During the 21st edition of the South African Music Awards (SAMA), on the April 19, rapper K.O took home the most prestigious award. He bagged himself the record of the year for his hit Caracara featuring Kid X.
It was the first time, in South African music history, that a hip-hop artist won record of the year at the SAMAs. Its significance for the whole hip-hop industry was evident when a majority of fellow hip-hop artists in attendance went on to the stage to embrace K.O.
Fellow hip-hop artist, AKA also broke ground this year with his smash hit All Eyez On Me. His collaborative effort with Da L.E.S, JR and Burna Boy became the first South African hip-hop jam to be A-list playlisted on BBC 1Xtra.
As if that wasn’t enough the South African ‘concord’ decided to take the heat straight to the UK itself. AKA, Cassper Nyovest and K.O took turns invading the UK. And each landed on the legendary Tim Westwood’s doorstep as each of them debuted on his TV show with exclusive interviews and dope freestyles.
The biggest talking point in Msanzi hip hop and, arguably, the South African music industry came on the October 31 when rapper Cassper Nyovest filled up the TicketPro Dome to its full capacity of 20,000 people.
That was enough to engrave his name in SA history by becoming the first South African musician to fill up the Dome, without the help of an international act. Even South African president Jacob Zuma congratulated 24-year-old Cassper Nyovest on his achievement. The likes of Chris Brown and Kanye West had failed in filling up the Dome during their respective South African tours.
You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Have we finished yet?’ Well, far from it. Let’s turn left on to dance music boulevard and have a look at dance music in 2015. The 14th Metro FM Music Awards, held on February 28, 2015, saw dance music rise like never before. And it was only the beginning.
Chymamusique got the ball rolling when he did the unexpected and took home best new artist for his album Gift of Sound.
Chymamusique had to see off fan-favourites DJ Dimplez and Duncan to win the award in what was a well-contested group. Next up, Nastee Nev bagged himself best dance album for his 0808 Sweetsoul. DJ Fisherman made it three for dance music when he took best music video for Call Out, beating K.O, Cassper Nyovest, AKA and Afrotraction. My highlight of the night, though, was when legendary deep and soulful house DJ, and a personal favourite of mine, Vinny Da Vinci took best compilation album for his landmark Deep House Sounds Vol. 10.
And what would SA dance music in 2015, be without its very own ‘superman?’ Of course, Black Coffee makes it on our 2015 roundup as well. While we were celebrating his album, Pieces of Me, going gold within a month of its release, Black Coffee broke the news that it reached platinum status on October 23.
Why is this such a big deal? Artists reach platinum sales status every day, right? Not in dance music! Black Coffee’s album going platinum was a big victory for dance music in South Africa. Before this, though, Black Coffee won the breakthrough DJ of the year and also took, on South Africa’s behalf, dance nation of the year at the 2015 DJ Awards held in September in Ibiza, Spain. Prior to all these awards and achievements, Black Coffee earned himself a spot on Drake’s OVO Sound Beats 1 Radio Show on Apple Music. On the show, Drake shared his favourite tracks which included Black Coffee’s collaborative effort with Bucie titled Superman.
My last, but certainly not the least, dance music highlight came around November 9 when toddler DJ Arch Jnr won SA’s Got Talent. At just 3 years old, DJ Arch Jnr became the youngest person to win the global Got Talent TV series. Nice work.
I know there was a lot of hate thrown upon young DJ Arch Jnr because being a deejay isn’t perceived as a talent. And many questioned his mixing and beating matching skills. But, think about it: what were you doing at the age of three? Many of us couldn’t even count to ten. Why is this a highlight you may ask? This achievement by the toddler DJ reaffirmed South Africa as a dance-loving nation. The whole world was talking about it. Celebrities such as US rapper Ludacris went on to their social media pages to share their amazement and congratulate DJ Arch Jnr for his achievement.
Enough about dance music, let’s give other genres a chance, why don’t we? Let’s talk about a South African singer/songwriter by the name of Candice Pillay who featured on one of the best albums to drop this year.The US-based Pietermaritzburg-born songstress featured on Dr Dre’s third studio album Compton, not once but twice.
Her vocal prowess can be heard on Genocide, featuring Kendrick Lamar and Marsha Ambrosius, and on Medicine Man, featuring Eminem and Anderson .Paak. Her work as a songwriter speaks for itself having written for Christina Aguilera and Rita Ora, among others.
They usually say, ‘save the best for last’ and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do. This one goes to the three South African artists who picked up Grammy nominations for the 2016 awards, to be announced in February 2016 in Los Angeles. First up is Wouter Kellerman who earned himself a second consecutive Grammy nomination for his new album, Love Language.
The nomination is under the best contemporary instrumental album category which follows his success at the 2015 Grammy for best new-age album for his collaboration with American musician Ricky Kej for the album Winds of Samsara.
Next up is Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who are no strangers when it comes to the Grammys; this is their 16th nomination to date. Their album Music from Inala has been nominated in the category best world music album. Inala premiered to a sold-out crowd at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015. Given their rich music and history, there’s so much I can say about Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Having written and performed with a variety of local and international artists including Judith Sephuma, Rebecca Malope and Keith Sweat, Neville Diedericks also comes to the party with his first Grammy nomination.
Neville D, South African gospel singer, received a collaborative nomination for his participation on the song Our God is Awesome , by gospel group New Breed featuring Yolanda Adams and Israel Houghton.
Long ride, I know. But 2015 is now all wrapped up and I can’t wait to get on with this year. And bring on those Grammys.