The 10 best southern African songs right now; find out Zimbabwe’s entries

The 10 best southern African songs right now; find out Zimbabwe’s entries

Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe are well represented in this month’s mixed bag of songs to listen to.

By OkayAfrica

Following a restful, worry-laden first two months of the year, the groove-loving Southern section of the sub-continent is ready to log back into party mode. With that comes the bangers that keep our bounce fresh, our night time escapades memorable, our ears stuck to the radio, and our streaming services of choice invigorated.

Below are the 10 songs that not only crept on us, but stayed until they became month-end highlights.

Omali Themba – “Mahlo A Batho” (Lesotho)

Lesotho’s Omali Themba crowns himself as lover boy supreme on this boom bap-leaning headbanger. “Mahlo a Batho” is about a love interest he’s been chasing for a hot minute, and now gets to share a life with. He explores the joys of this newfound romance over three verses punctuated by vocalist Bobby Strings’ hook, hyping his love interest to keep making sure that heads turn regardless of where they go.

Holy Ten “Very Tight” (Zimbabwe)

Holy Ten is part of the new wave of Zim emcees who’ve taken notes from earlier iterations of rap empresarios, and are now locked in as mouthpieces for their own destiny. He’s been in the spotlight since 2020, and has gained acclaim through collabs with fellow artists like Voltz JT. “Very Tight” comes on the back of his sweltering Risky Life II album, released in February. It’s a seamless club smash that comes pre-installed with Holy Ten’s unique tone and epic flow. The effects are instant and at roughly over two minutes long, this one will sit well on any playlist. Stiff necks be damned.

Stinno le Thwenny “Majabajaba” (South Africa)

Stinno le Thwenny’s punchline game remains unmatched on their latest cut, a G-funk-inspired sunshine crusade about the good life. “Majabajaba” is the quintessential nighttime cruise joint. It inspires reckless decision-making, which is clearly a good thing since the duo trade morning after stories like they were in the waiting room, waiting for their battle scars to heal. Play this one at the highest volume possible.

Tyla “Jump” feat. Skillibeng & Gunna (South Africa)

What do you get when you mix a Grammy award-winning South African star with the top-a-top of Jamaican dancehall’s new school, and then connect that up with one the most essential rappers to have come out of the Thugga school of slime-dripping cadence? This Tyla, Skillibeng and Gunna concoction is the answer. “Jump” is as high-energy inventive as it is catchy and mainstream, and a worthy competitor for the cross-Atlantic linkup of the decade. Double it up!

TitoM & Yuppe “Tshwala Bam” feat. S.N.E & EeQue (South Africa)

This song crept up on us, a thief in the February month-end night that caught the public off-guard as the early sun rays of March crushed subwoofers in taxis and sent nighttime groovers into a frenzy. “Tshwala Bam” is a sippy-infused township odyssey, the latest in Amapiano’s global conquest straight from whence the sound was birthed. It might be too early to tell, but this one looks set to inspire more than dance challenges come Deezemba.

JAE5 & Lojay “Dishonest” feat. Tyler ICU & Sha Sha (South Africa / Zimbabwe / Nigeria)

The UK-based super-producer JAE5 and Nigeria’s multi-faceted Lojay have delivered a fitting EP to close off the first quarter of 2024. The inclusion of South Africa’s Tyler ICU and Zimbabwe’s Sha Sha on album opener “Dishonest” is more than a dancefloor filler. It’s the North-South link-up sent directly from above, an Amapiano and Afrobeats cross-section birthed from within the depths of bass bins from the best global soundsystems. It’s sultry, it doesn’t require one to move much besides the odd side-to-side head movement, and it checks all the requirements for an evergreen banger.

Shasl “Softly” (Zimbabwe)

The Zim-based vocalist Shasl delves into matters of the heart on this one, and eloquently describes how a soft, loving, caring partnership can literally ‘take all the pain away’. She avails herself to her lover, implores them to call whenever, and states that she can see their through the facade of toughness. It’s danceable, melodic music for the lovers dem.

Bokani Dyer “Ke Nako” [Kid Fonque Refix] (Botswana / South Africa)

In its original form, “Ke Nako” is a jazz masterpiece about the importance of nationhood in a post-Apartheid South Africa still contending with its past. In the hands of Kid Fonque, it becomes the definitive guide to murking the dancefloor ‘til dawn breaks. The vocals make way for the horn section, the bass takes centre-fold, and the drums are a steady four-to-the-floor thump with a psychedelic spice that hints at something not very far from the thriving Afrotech sound uniting party-goers around the globe. Botswana’s Sereetsi and the Natives lands the perfect punch amidst the thriving mash-up that results, and all this while the healing is in progress.

Aymos  “Es’gela” feat. Kabza de Small & Eemoh (South Africa)

Aymos’ ode to childhood dreams that became a reality is presented against the backdrop of a thriving Amapiano arrangement perfected by Kabza de Small’s signature touch. It’s as relatable as anything that the bonafide hit-making vocalist direct his pen, a nod to kasi dreamers worldwide to keep going, and a praise song to the ancestors who keep clearing the path for our prayers to receive a home.

Tammy Moyo “Kelly Kelvhedhura” feat. Master H (Zimbabwe)

Tammy Moyo links up with Zim dancehall’s top don Master H to deliver a top shotta tune that packs all the right elements and doesn’t waste time. The effect is instant. All one has to do is step in line, ignite some fire, and revel in this truly lit moment. A scorcher, one for the books.