Who Will Be The Big Winners On The Night?
Finally, the moment that we have all been waiting for… that time of the musical year again, where South Africa rewards its artists through the annual historic South Africa Music Awards Ceremony. In an exciting era where home-grown musical talent is impacting positively on world entertainment trends, the SAMA’s can only serve to cement this even further. 2009 saw the airwaves as well as the club scene being dominated by more and more exciting local music.
Young producers sprung up from everywhere, carrying with them exciting sounds which they had been secretly crafting in their bedrooms. It no longer matters whether your song is on radio or not; a new market has emerged and this market emanated from the streets. Finally, new platforms were created through which even the most remotely located young producers could be heard and because of that factor the SAMA’s of 2010 is going to be one of the most challenging yet, simply due to the amount of good competitive music that is prevalent in Mzansi right now.
The urban dance category is most definitely going to be one of the biggest challenges, what with South Africa having recently been cited the ‘Capital’ of urban dance culture due to the high volume of this music we consume. Who was the hottest? I can tell you for sure that names like Cndo, Liqui Deep, Culoe de Song, Qness, DJ Cleo and Black Coffee, just to mention a few,certainly dominated not only the street scene but the airwaves themselves. I would put up these as forefront nominees: Liqui Deep for the classic hit Fairytale, Culoe for his smash remix of Busi Mhlongo’s We Baba, Qness for his timeless gem Fugama Unamathe, Black Coffee for putting together an amazing album, Cndo for her hit Amerido on which she features Daddy and DJ Cleo for Good Music.
Objectively, the winner of the Urban Dance trophy favours Black Coffee for his latest album Home Brewed which has just set world standards for South African production while for Best Newcomer, I predict a close race between Qness and Culoe de Song. It has been one hell of a hectic year on the dance side of things, hey, so that would still be a tough selection, but for me that is the closest to the best in the country right now.
Moving on to Kwaito, the name on the tip of my lips is Big Nuz!!! These boys have made it! Since the inception of their careers with Uyoyisholo Wena, it has been hit after hit from these boys and they are heating up the scene with their unique blend of ‘Afro Kwaito beats!’ Umlilo is the song in question and it is the same song which single-handedly drove their album sales to a healthy 30 000 copies of CD’s sold since the initial release of the album, aptly titled Undisputed.
But floating in the same kwaito category is DJ Sox with his La Porte featuring Daddy and Sasho which also made some relevant Kwaito history last year after driving people on the streets as well as on the airwaves totally insane! In addition to Sox I would also say Mzambiya; the boy just killed it with his latest single Ezibandayo; this one would also be a huge potential nominee in terms of being one of the best kwaito tracks on the market. Of course Mahoota could also get the nod for his Bayethe and the much-loved Potoko, but not forgetting L’vovo with his new smash Touch currently killing dance floors across the country. Tough and competitive as this list may be I still feel that the kwaito trophy would go to Big Nuz… that Umlilo monster song is just too hot on the streets!!!
Moving forward, Hip Hop is another genre that has grown immensely and taken centre stage in South Africa over the last couple of years. A genre that started off relatively small and underground back in the days of ‘Prophets of Da City,’ it has grown from being an unrecognized genre to a commercial and critical success in South Africa and has made names out of its daughters and sons such as Slikour, a known hip hop mogul in the making, as well as Hip Hop Pantsula, one of the country’s most prolific hip hop artists who recently attended a tour of the United States and got to rub shoulders with the likes of P. Diddy, Lil Wayne, Jay Z and other international stars. I have no doubt that Prokid would fit perfectly well into the hip hop list of the SAMA nominees. His hardcore in-your-face street lyrical creed seems to be what South Africa’s hip hop lovers are enjoying at the moment as is evidenced by the popularity and immense support for his music on the scene right now. His single Zero has topped charts on a crossover level and is a huge SAMA potential to look out for. But of course we could never get away with compiling this list without including 985, who have turned the face of hip hop around with their single Shapa, which became one of the biggest hip hop tunes of 2009 crossing into 2010. JR is also another local act who has made a name for himself over the past few years and this year expectations should be high that he could also walk away with something especially after the measurable success of his hit Show Dem.
Another rapper to look out for, Psyfo, also did extremely well with his single Double Cross taken off his latest offering. But one of the most relevant on the hip hop scene would definitely have to be the Speedy/ Stoan collaboration Le Tsatse Le which is currently one of the most beautiful tracks around right now. I would bet my last cent on that one to take the hip hop trophy for this year.
The Afro Pop category is likely to be one that could prove to be quite a bit of a challenge as well. With big successful names such as Jaziel Brothers, Winnie Khumalo, Bongi Dube, Unathi Nkayi and Thembi Seete, among many other hot local Afro Pop acts all having made a relatively huge impact on the masses, the quest to identify the best could be a little tough. Winnie Khumalo’s Live My Life was arguably one of the best ever Afro Pop tunes in years, while Unathi Nkayi’s We Thembisile is also quite a competitive choice having achieved gold status in sales for the humble vocal force. On the other hand, Bongi Dube’s Go Around also killed dance floors and set the dancing shoes alight last year, as did the world class vocal talents of the Jaziel Brothers with their current killer song Woza taken off their latest album. Let’s not forget Thembi Seete though, with her I am Free single. I would however put my money on Winnie Khumalo’s Live My Life as this song not only made history last year, but it is arguably one of the best ever local Afro Pop tunes made even more significant after the sad loss of the undisputed Mzansi Afro Pop queen, Brenda Fassie.
All in all, as I said, it has been a competitive musical year and our music is only getting better every day. Obviously, we cannot ignore the advent of new trends. Radio is no longer the only medium to drive new music, with the digital age fast settling in and with it comes the downloads, pod casts, online radio, and not forgetting our traditional street marketing as well as other new exciting mediums through which music can be heard. The SAMA Awards continue to grow bigger and (hopefully) better each year, so all we can do now is wait with abated breath!!!
The 16th Annual South African Music Awards takes place at Sun City on 16 April.
Written By : Manik Mnisi