South African Pop Essentials

South African Pop Essentials

Kwaito grooves, Afrikaans raps, uplifting vocal harmonies and soul-baring indie ballads all find their way onto South Africa’s pop-music map. The country’s most iconic genres have always held sway—indeed, the legendary choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo continue to deliver on the same world-embracing mbube power that first won them the attention of Paul Simon in the ’80s. But then there’s the breezy Afropop of Beatenberg and the Brit-rock inklings of The Parlotones, who chug through riffs like they own the place even as they bare their deepest heartbreaks. The multi-talented Toya Delazy burst to acclaim in 2011 with nerd glasses, mohawk braids and kaleidoscopic bangers, and meanwhile electronic producer Black Coffee proved himself a steady-handed sculptor of bass and rhythm. It’s a country where artists stay on top of what’s going on worldwide—and often set the agenda themselves.

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