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The 10 best Mzansi music videos of the month

Global pandemics and ineffective policy aside, South African artists continue to produce rich music and stunning videos, from which we’ve selected a top 10 (including Corona content shoutouts), to help you support an industry in need.

April has been a tough month for the majority of South Africans. The government shifted goalposts on its position regarding several Coronavirus-related policy decisions. At every turn, ministers and their subordinates demonstrated a painful level of cluelessness regarding how people across the country live. Issues of access reared their head again, and affected the masses in different ways

The artist community has been one of the hardest hit. From the get-go, there seemed to be little regard for them in policy making. The Minister of Labour, Thulas Nxesi put it in explicit terms that freelance workers, of which artists form a significant portion, “fall outside” of the current legislation. 

While the state of the economy continues on a downward crash, with catastrophic consequences visible on the horizon, the volume of music being made remains of incredible quality. For the month of April, we’ve compiled a list of songs ranging from rap, to folk, to rock, to gqom, and more. Check it out below.

Matthew Mole – Keep in Together

It’s approaching a decade since the Cape Town-based folk musician Matthew Mole made his debut in the music industry. The fresh-faced kid who won many a hearts over with his ukulele when he debuted the You Did Well, Kid EP in 2011, has morphed into a man whose vision for the future gets sharper on every release. “Keep it Together” finds him “facing up to a difficult season” in his life, and choosing to push through the hardships. 

Elaine – You’re the One

The sensational breakthrough of Elaine over the past year has made the South African music spectrum revise its strategies. After assembling a team of musicians to construct the sound she had in mind, and a manager to handle her business affairs while she creates, the songwriter and vocalist went full-throttle to put together her debut album, Elements. It made history upon its release when she became “the first independent woman to reach the number one spot on the South African Apple Music album charts”. “You’re the One”, taken off of that debut, builds upon her streak as a hopeless romantic. 

DJ So Nice – Ok Cool

The self-proclaimed ‘coolest deejay in Africa’ has brought on board his friends, the fire-spitting emcee Priddy Ugly, and his adept producer/emcee wingman Wichi1080, to assist in making this highly addictive tune an instant banger. The video chronicles their idea of a fun day as they hop from parking lots at the mall to scenes in a studio, all the while chanting a mantra that’ll leave you amused, and even chuckling, in these trying times.

DJ Lag Ft. Moonchild Sanelly – Uhuru Dis

Durban-based DJ Lag is a record-breaking innovator whose contributions to South African dance culture have been solidified through a series of smart decisions over the years. He’s grown from a teenager making beats in his mother’s living room, to one of the collaborators brought on board to assist Beyoncé on her The Lion King: The Gift album. Here, she collaborates with the indestructible queen of cool, Moonchild Sanelly, to riff reckless on “Uhuru Dis”, taken off of his Mad Decent debut titled Uhuru. The video, directed by frequent collaborator Chris Ketts, is an enticing sneak peak into South African club culture, with a Romeo and Juliet twist to keep viewers tuned in from beginning to end.

Mpho Sebina – Pula

Mpho Sebina’s been feeding us dope music for more than a hot minute. Ever since her demonstration of appreciation for the music of Lebo Mathosa and Erykah Badu on the heartstring-pulling “Lerato” brought her to greater public attention, the Botswana-born vocalist continues to serve soul cuts for those inclined towards quiet moments and critical reflections. “Pula”, which means ‘rain’, and is also the name of her home country’s national currency, follows in the same vein as her previous releases. It’s cool, calm and collected spirit music to guide our thoughts through this very 21st century incarnation of a global catastrophe. The video was directed by Yannis Sainte-rose, and filmed by frequent collaborator Motheo Moeng, who is also the eye behind the Netflix smash, Queen Sono.

Khuli Chana – Open Plan Recording

A video of the gawd emcee Khuli Chana performing alternative arrangement of songs from his current offering, Planet of the Have-Nots, recently surfaced online. The initiative is by rapid video and audio content creation hub, KYL Solutions. Joined by a 3-piece band, and backed up by his partner in song, Kaygizm, Khuli Chana makes a quick run-through of select cuts from his album without breaking a sweat. It’s a fun watch that won’t take up much time, so check it out.

pH Raw x Ft. Berita AfroSoul – Kuxotawena

pH is a legendary producer who’s made memorable songs with, and for, the likes of Khuli Chana and Thandiswa Mazwai. Here, he calls on Afro-soul songstress Berita to assist on “Kuxotawena”. “If I had to choose/ you know it’d be you,” raps pH, while the directorial eye of Nate Thomas pulls us deeper into the rapper/producer’s world: a minimalist enterprise where the longing for a romantic partner to complete life’s puzzle rules the day.

Diamond Thug – The Woods

The Cape Town-based alternative pop collective has been quietly building and improving upon their sound for a while now.  “The Woods” is “a story of two lovers lost in a forest of disconnection and emotional isolation” recorded in-between the Mother City and the French Alps. The Jeremy Pelser-directed video responds to what the song aims to achieve, which is to “metaphorically [speak about] the difficulties of maintaining a relationship in the modern world.”

Logical and Two Point Owe – Fake Friends

Logical used to be the frontman of the four-man hip hop band, ETC Crew, who gradually disbanded following the release of their 2008 masterpiece, What’s In A Name. He links up with beatmaker and emcee Two Point Owe in a tale about backstabbing. The results are equal parts comedy and dark underworld shenanigans, rendered beautifully by the directorial eye of Ante Samarzija. 

Corona Content

There has been an enormous outpouring of content throughout the month of April. Nasty C premiered new songs on his 22-minute Lockdown Desktop concert; bassist, composer and bandleader Shane Cooper (alias Card On Spokes) has been dishing out pristine content through his dancer and musician collabs; the rapper Stogie T embarked on an initiative called FreestyleFriday in which he compiles clips of emcees spitting their best raps; Amapiano overlords Kabza de Small and Maphorisa have maintained their street buzz with the best fixes around; and drummer Asher Gamedze announced the first single off of his debut album Dialectic Soul, which is currently streaming exclusively on Bandcamp. The full project shall be available in July.