It was business as usual for Africans, and African creatives regardless of whatever strain of virus the world continues to battle with. Outside was fully back open, live shows and tours made a return as people continue to do their best to return to “normalcy.”
The music didn’t pause either though it got off to a slow start, it eventually gained steam towards the latter stages of the year, with the likes of 25K, Priddy Ugly, E.L, Blxckie, Sarkodie, The Big Hash, Psycho YP all dropping major projects. 2021, as highlighted by our Top 50 African Rappers Of 2021 list, belonged to the newcomers who did their hardest to displace the old heads. A lot of their names won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and let’s hope their foot remains firmly on the pedal in 2022.
Our Hottest African Hip Hop songs of 2021 list features an eclectic mix of what was perceived to be hot and trending. These songs stood out due to impact, sheer quality and bars. Of course some of the selection – Like every list we make – are majorly centered around music and artists we’ve covered or monitored on our platform.
These are our picks for the best African hip hop songs of 2021 (In no particular order). Songs featured were released between January 2, 2021 to November 30, 2021.
2021 turned out to be a very memorable year for Blxckie who released his debut album, B4Now to wild acclaim. One of the standout tracks on the album is David, a song he uses to sound off on the copycats. The song sticks to your ear due to its trap-leanings and Religious intimation. You can hear Blxckie passionately croon about his aspirations and the sacrifices he made to get to this point.
Dee Koala Feat. K. Keed And Blxckie “Spazz”
I feel like there’s so much Dee Koala can contribute to SA hip hop in the long run. Her unapologetic, and often rowdy ways makes her unpredictable. While we wait for it all to unravel, it was fun seeing her blossom in 2021.
Often expressive and bold with her music, Dee knows how to craft tracks that are able to get pulses racing, as can be heard on the song Spazz. The K. Keed and Blxckie assisted record plays out like an anthemic-trap banger designed to make fun of the wannabes and posers.
You talking ‘bout bitches, get outta here/you not even dripping, get outta here/you talking ‘bout glocks, get outta here/I’m smelling on opps, get outta here.”
The song’s execution, and boisterous nature makes it one of the standout records of the year.
25K Feat. A-Reece “Hustler’s Prayer”
25K reflects on his hood adventures in the systemic “Hustler’s Prayer.” The song’s premise is based on what 25K lived growing up in Atteridgeville, a township west of Pretoria. He adeptly talks about the brotherly love he shares with his homies, and how they unapologetically run through hoops for each other.
Reece’s verse hits the hardest. Bearing his heart on the track, he opens up about his final moments with his father, and how he never got to visit him on his death bed due to covid restrictions.
Got a call that my pops on the hospital bed/Drownin’ in all of those tears that I shed/Told him I’ll pay for whatever/He told me “Forget it, just pay me a visit instead”/ This fuckin’ pandemic ain’t lettin’ up/He died and I ain’t get to look at his face.
This hits even deeper when you realize this was the sad reality for a lot of people. “Hustler’s Prayer” has been nominated in the best African hip hop collaboration category at the inaugural Creative Africa Hip Hop Awards.
Loose Kaynon Feat. M.I. Abaga And A-Q “98 Bulls”
The Bulls 90’s dynasty, led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Denins Rodman is regarded as the greatest assembled NBA team of all time. While that’s debatable, what’s not debatable is the legendary status of this track. Loose Kaynon reunited with his Lamb Cyphervengers to disrupt the rap ecosystem. Using double, triple entendres and mind boggling NBA references, the trio metaphorically proclaim their greatness. “We the 98 Bulls… what’s better than us” M.I asks.
Let’s be honest, Loose is the least popular of the trio so this track was largely unnoticed. However, it’s a damn good find.
Interestingly, the 98 Bulls was the last time we got to watch Jordan, Pippen and Rodman as a trio, as the team was dismantled the year after. Is something being implied with this track? Is this the last time we’re going to get M, A-Q and Loose on a track? A-Q seemingly alludes to it as well in his verse. “Let’s do this one more time before the fat lady sings.”
Back in 98, the trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Denins Rodman went on one last dance, winning their sixth championship in eight years. “98 Bulls”Isn’t just a collaboration. It’s a statement. The track is also nominated in the best hip hop collaboration category at the 2021 Creative Africa Hip Hop Awards.
Sarkodie “Rollies And Cigars”
Sarkodie remembers his come up and boasts about his achievements in the charismatic “Rollies And Cigars.” The track is effortlessly cool, sketching out Sark’s timelessness in the industry. Using abrasive bravado, the veteran rapper reminds his critics of his consistency.
“I dey do this for long,” he states. “Ten years, every time it be me, everyone else is just tagging along.” The track is almost the perfect summary of what his ninth studio album, No Pressure is about.
Priddy Ugly “April 2nd Freestyle”
“First of all, with the raps I’m in first place.” South African native Priddy Ugly chose violence on his birthday. On the Hercules Beatz produced April 2nd freestyle, the Angolan-born rapper bodies the competition and declares himself the “greatest.”
The track also includes stray shots at A-Reece, Shane Eagle and Nasty C. He clearly wants all the smoke.
April Showers x YoungstaCPT “Kaasy?”
Young rising South African female rapper April Showers puts on for Cape Town with her debut offering Kaasy?” The energetic hood anthem features Y? Gen boss YoungstaCPT, who shows why he remains one of the continent’s most underrated wordsmith.
Khaligraph Jones x Sarkodie “Wavy”
Adrenaline induced bars? Check. Formula one paced lyricism? Check. Bars about being the best? Also Check. Two of the continent’s finest showcase their range and amazing breath control on this rappity rap track produced by Motif The Don. KJ big flexes and metaphorically alludes to his dominance. “I be taking over Africa like I’m the f****** Chinese.”
Sarkodie reminds his detractors of his status and challenges anyone hurt about it to step up.
Dominant 1 x Holstar “Lost Generation”
Holstar recently revealed to creative that he often feels disconnected from the culture. “I do feel like I am not in the industry…just a spectator that Raps. I do understand that everyone creates their own lane but it is just a reminder that it is not too late to start a positive conversation where things have gone off track.”
On “Lost Generation” Holstar and Dominant 1 remember the golden years of hip hop. The track featuring Kim Of Diamonds touches on culture shift and the new trends that have led to hip hop’s change of pace. Certainly one of the best tracks from Dominant 1 and Holstar’s African Diamond EP.
Rouge Feat. Youssoupha And Sarkodie “W.A.G”
Rouge asserts her superiority over her peers on “WhatsApp Group” featuring French-Congolese rapper Youssoupha and Creative-HipHop’s 2020 African rapper of the year Sarkodie. On the track Ms popular moves swiftly under pressure, cares less about the opposition, and reaffirms her position as one of the continent’s most prominent female rappers. She move different.
Kwesi Arthur Feat. Vic Mensa “Winning”
Kwesi Arthur doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. The Tema native vows to keep winning on this infectious single featuring Chicago-based rapper Vic Mensa. The track is taken from his forthcoming album “Son Of Jacob” set to arrive soon.
A-Q Feat. Chike “Breathe”
Despite his earlier struggles A-Q has found recent success with his music. His God Engineering album was one of our favorite African hip hop projects of 2020. On Breathe featuring Chike, A-Q reflects on his underdog story and breaks free from the shackles of society. He finds solace knowing, despite the hindrances, he will continue to overcome.
Black Sherif “Second Sermon”
Black Sherif doesn’t seem to be operating in the same space as his contemporaries. His brash demeanor, honesty and unusual flow has earned him co-signs from several high profile names including Sarkodie and Burna Boy, who recently jumped on the remix to his viral single “Second Sermon.” The track is touted as one of the realest hip hop songs at the moment, receiving high praises for its accurate depiction of street life. Performed in twi, “Second Sermon” – from what I was able to gather – is about the 19-year old’s struggles in the streets of Konongo, Ghana.
Shane Eagle Feat. YoungstaCPT “Ammo”
Shane Eagle and YoungstaCPT make a deadly combination. Their chemistry on this record made fans envision what a possible collaborative project between the two South Africans would sound like. Shane’s hybrid raps is complemented by Youngsta’s Sonic bars.
Sarkodie “No Fugazy”
On this song Sarkodie brags about his refined taste and innate drip. “No Fugazy.” is another example of the Ghanaian rapper’s attributes as a trendsetter. “No Pressure” album soon come.
Ladipoe Feat. Buju “Feeling”
Ladipoe has a lot to feel good about at the moment. Earlier this year the rapper won his first Headies award for Best Collaboration for “Know You” featuring singer, songwriter Simi. The collaboration just recently surpassed 10 million views on YouTube, becoming his first ever video to achieve that feat. “Feeling” with Buju is a celebration of his recent trajectory.
Blaqbonez Feat. Psycho YP, Laycon & AQ “Zombie”
“Sex Over Love” is filled with slappers, making it nearly difficult to settle on a track to feature. However this is a hip hop website with a bias for bars so we have settled for “Zombie.” Blaqbonez taps newcomers Psycho YP and Laycon, as well as veteran Nigerian rapper A-Q for the get money anthem. Blaq raps about his new found fame, getting money and how fast people switch up on you.
Blxckie Feat. Nasty C “Ye x4”
Young South African rapper Blaxckie is being touted as the new face of South African hip hop. That’s a heavy burden to have and it will be interesting to see how it unravels.
Following the success of his breakout single “Big Time SH’LAPPA” featuring Lucasrap$. Blxckie capitalized on the success by releasing his debut album B4Now. On “Ye x4” he links up with Nasty C for a verbal showcase centered around flexing. “Ye Ye Ye Ye.”
K.O “K. HOVA”
M.I. Abaga x Vector “Crown Of Clay”
M.I and Vector on the same track? Who would have envisioned it after witnessing their lyrical exchange last year. M and V had that nasty feud in 2020 so it’s good to see them move past their differences it. As entertaining as beefs are it’s always good to see rappers grow and learn to put their differences aside for the bag and of course the greater good and unity of hip hop.
On “Crown Of Clay” the two prove two kings can co-exist. They share pan-African bars, loaded with metaphors referencing the tenacity of black people. “The wealth that’s in our continent was stolen out/But what they going do with me when they can’t control me now.”
Priddy Ugly Feat. YoungstaCPT “The Pen”
What’s better than listening to YoungstaCPT or Priddy Ugly tear a beat to shreds? Hearing them do it together. Both MCs have been delivering high-level lyricism for several years now, so it’s great to hear them combine talents for a track. On “The Pen,” both rappers brag about their immaculate writing abilities and claim superiority over their peers, whilst also calling out the no pen rappers. Put your pen where your mouth is.
A-Reece “Mark 15:35”
“If I’m losing everyone I’m living for
Then dear Lord why the fuck a nigga still alive?” A-Reece reflects on his lost ones on the introspective Mark 15:35.
The rapper confronts his demons and gets candid about his anxieties. The track is featured on his latest mixtape, Today’s Tragedy, Tomorrow’s Memory. A-Reece has been through a lot in his 22-short years on the planet, but his story is just beginning.
Emtee raves about the birth of his second born, Logan and the unevenness he felt while awaiting his arrival. Being a father is a big flex – something the “Roll Up” rapper wears proudly on this record. Logan is also the title of his third album.