MTV Base (DStv channel 322) recently announced the results of its second annual survey of South Africa’s best rappers. With the help of prominent tastemakers and music industry insiders, MTV Base's ‘Hottest MCs’ ranks South Africa's top 10 hip-hop artists for the year according to their impact, lyrics, sales, buzz, style and various intangibles.
Bound to spark debate amongst fans, ‘SA’s Hottest MCs’ sees the MCs weighed and measured by a panel of industry experts and well respected names, judging them according to buzz, impact, style, lyrics, sales and other “intangible factors”. This year’s panel, itself controversial, included Fred Kayembe, Slikour, Tbo Touch, Vukile Zondi, Ms Cosmo, Melanie Triegaardt and Loyiso Gola, while MTV Base VJ Sizwe Dhlomo helmed the debate. Here the list the experts came up with:
1. Cassper Nyovest
Almost a month to the day that Cassper Nyovest rewrote history with his Fill Up The Dome concert, MTV Base announced him as the top dog in ‘SA’s Hottest MC 2015’. The heavily contested top five saw Nyovest push both rivals and friends to the back of the list, scoring top marks for impact, sales, buzz and other intangibles. Commended by the judges for his sound decision-making skills and relentless hard work, there was little disagreement that Cassper deserved the top spot. Among his many achievements this year include signing a lucrative deal with MTN and featuring on the title track of US star Talib Kweli’s new album.
Hot on his heels is AKA, who the panel unanimously agreed deserved the second spot with his well thought-out music taking centre stage. His accomplishments outside the studio were arguably not as strong as Cassper’s. Style and lyrics were the two outstanding criteria that scored him the runner-up spot. Among AKA’s achievements this year are wins at the AFRIMMA awards in the US and headlining the BET Experience in Johannesburg alongside a host of US superstars.
2014’s number one MC took the third spot. KO’s strong presence and contribution to the local hip-hop scene was commended by the panel but the extent of his impact in 2015 was interrogated. Despite beating arch rivals Casper and AKA and the SAMAs in April and managing to spread his wings to the rest of the continent by touring East Africa in September, this year the former member of Teargas slips to number 3 in the rankings.
4. Riky Rick
MTV Africa Music Award (MAMA) 2015 winner for Best Music Video for ‘Nafukwa’, Riky Rick scored fourth spot after a hard-hitting 2015 with the release of his debut album Family Values, which earned him multiple award nominations while selling over 20 000 copies. He is a frontrunner at the SA Hip-Hop Awards (SAHHA) in Johannesburg this month.
OkMalumKoolKat took the number 5 slot with his hard-to-define rap style. While his work, dedication and influence on South African hip-hop culture throughout 2014/2015 has been louder than his fame, features with Riky Rick, Cassper Nyovest and WTF - and sheer consistency - had the panel wide open. Read his exclusive interview with Music In Africa here.
The number six spot belongs to the 'Do Like I Do' rapper Kwesta, who has had a great 2015, notching up impressive collaborations with DJ Sliqe and more. The decision to have him at number six was apparently unanimous.
7. Khuli Chana
At number seven is hip hop veteran Khuli Chana, whose recent collaboration with Nigerian talent Patoranking, 'No Lie', has scored him new fans all over the continent. His appearance on the bottom 10 created heated debate among the panellists.
8. Kid X
Appearing on the list for the second year running is Cashtime’s Kid X, now at number 8. The panel believes Kid X to be one of the hottest rap talents in South Africa, although his full potential is yet to be realized.
Taking the ninth spot is iFani, whose second album, I Believes In Me - Second Quadrant, went gold within 24 hours of release (albeit due to a cunning promotional ploy), with the single 'Ayadelela' enjoying great airplay on radio right now. The rapper's upbeat and catchy IsiXhosa tracks, and his signature off-beat vintage style have set him apart from the rest of the South African music industry. Earlier this year he was selected to headline the annual Africa Day celebrations at the Bassline in Johannesburg.
At number 10 is former Glitz Gang rapper L’Tido, whose latest hit single 'Dlala Ka Yona' is one of the most popular hip-hop songs of 2015, with an attention-grabbing video starring the infamous Pulane.
The list caused much controversy and resulted in the hashtag #BaseHottestMC trending worldwide on Twitter, with more than 20 000 tweets as South Africa’s hip-hop ‘heads’ had their say. Fans took to social media to air their grievances with the rankings of their favourite rappers as well as the exclusion of those they consider to be the best – most notably Tumi, Proverb, Reason and HHP, who will all feel hard done by.