The South African music industry has gone through major changes, and we can see how artists like AKA, Cassper Nyovest, and Sho Majdozi (just to name a few) have been able to transcend beyond the African borders and build an international presence.
Growing up, before the internet was at the stage that it is at, and social media platforms were tools to market yourself and earn an income from, South African artists we used to look up to where the likes of Lira, Hugh Masekela, Black Coffee, and in the hip-hop genre specifically, we literally only had HHP, Skwatta Camp and Proverb holding it down. AKA can really be credited for the big role he played in transforming the music industry by normalising collaborations with other African artists. It did not only open the industry but encouraged a united Africa through music.
Let me give credit to what globalisation has done for the culture – globalisation is the process of integrating governments, cultures, and financial markets through international trade into a single world market. Cultural globalisation and digitisation have really allowed us to have access to resources and exposure that put us on an international level.
Nasty C (24) and Elaine (22) are young South African artists that are now living the American dream. From making it in the South African music industry to being scouted by two of the biggest international music labels, I think it is safe to say that these two are really giving the young one’s ambition to reach for the stars and not be afraid to dream big.
Born Ntsikayesizwe David Junior Ngcobo, Nasty C developed the passion for rapping from his older brother who influenced him to rap as he learned the foundation of music from him at the age of nine. Ngcobo released his first-ever offering at the age of fourteen and has since shocked the public with his creative rapping and unwavering growth. His most prominent song, Juice Back, really put him on the map scoring him a feature on the remix with Davido and Cassper Nyovest. He was the youngest recipient of an award at the 2015 South African Hip Hop Awards, and recently signed a joint venture deal with Def Jam Records.
Ndivhuwo Elaine Mukheli, popularly referred to as Elaine, started singing at the age of six and participated in the school choir and various talent competitions while growing up. While studying law at the University of Witwatersrand, she independently released her debut EP, Elements which reached number one on the national iTunes and Apple Music album charts, making her the first independent female artist to do it. Mukheli was signed to Columbia records in 2020.
As someone who has been infatuated with the entertainment industry and has had dreams of running in the same circles as the “it” celebrities and socialites of South Africa, I really appreciate the growth that this industry has undergone over the last couple of years, presenting opportunities that we could only dream of when we were younger. Thanks to digitisation, the internet, and social media, more of our artists are internationally recognised for their work. Let us not even get started on the amapiano genre that is currently taking the world by storm.
Essentially the message I am trying to convey is the fact that youth like Nasty C and Elaine are no different to you and me. They just believed in their craft. The current forces that are changing the world as we know it also played a big role in accelerating their music careers and their international recognition. Until recently, getting signed to big record companies like Def Jam or Universal in the United States was something only a select few could do. Don’t get me wrong, what is inspirational about them, is not the international recognition – that is a bonus, it is the fact that they are proud of their craft; they put in the hard work and believed – in the dream and themselves. By doing this, they are representing our nation and sharing the beauty and joy that South African musicians have given to us, with the rest of the world. Now that’s dope.