Courtesy of Artist
Mandoza is considered one of the kings of Kwaito.
Mandoza is considered one of the kings of Kwaito. Courtesy of Artist
Originating in the black townships of South Africa in the mid-1990s, Kwaito music fuses hip-hop, house music, reggae and melodic African rhythms. Although Kwaito has been labeled by many as African hip-hop, others say it's an original African genre and not a mere clone of American rap music. There may be controversy about how the music should be labeled, but there's no question that Kwaito artists have produced incredible songs that deserve recognition.
The Kwaito beat is heavy and synth-driven. Ostensibly, Western house music is at its core, and the vocal style is hard-edged to fit the relentless dance beat; its flow is less linear than typical American hip-hop. The Kwaito "sound" is unmistakably party music, meant for dancing in the club.
With the exception of the late Brenda Fassie, Thandiswa Mazwai from the group Bongo Maffin, and a handful of other women, Kwaito has been traditionally dominated by male artists. These "Kings of Kwaito" have given their fans countless hits, and the classic songs on this list are five reasons why they're widely viewed as South African music royalty.