We have a couple of South African female MCs at the moment but none of them rule the throne. Whilst others are too busy imitating Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim, others are criminally underrated. It’s time to look at who might become South Africa’s biggest mainstream female rapper.
She’s easily distinguishable if you love poetry. Poetry fans and readers have known her as Maya the Poet but now, she’s returned as a colourful rapper named Sho Madjozi. She oozes confidence and appears as the coolest person in the city. Often seen wearing bright cultural clothing, dancing to South African traditional music and always supporting anything African related. She hasn’t shied away from her roots and remains herself regardless of the success that she has achieved.
Often rapping in South African languages, mainly Xitsonga - she shines. A language that's easily considered one of the most difficult languages by the vast majority of South Africans. It's a true skill how she's able to take advantage of Tsonga's heavily syllabic nature. A short illustration can be shown in her overlooked song, “Dumi Hi Phone”.
"Man'i ta ni byela yini
Coming in this way
Loko m' la' lukhanya mina
Vela you should miss me
Party since Tuesday
Vona it's a new wave
You wouldn't wanna bother stopping me
'cause it's too late
Kasi iRapper xiyini Madjozi
Kasi i fambela yini a Jozi
Mina swivutiso lesw'a ni sw'koti
Loko in' lava ni
Kumi hi phone
Ni Kumi hi phone"
Rhythmically dense verses are a skill. So many rappers lack the skill to craft together complex or irregular rhyme patterns, dense syllable use and avid beat articulation. Everybody is stuck using the same flow. Madjozi's verse, although not a lyrical masterpiece, requires quite a bit of skill. Her crossover appeal doesn't require her to be Stogie T, she needs to be decent musician with relatable content and a knack for hooks but she's a more than that. She's a capable MC (as her poetry has shown), an enticing personality and she knows how to kill hooks.
Her crossover appeal sets her apart from other female rappers. “Dumi Hi Phone” is categorized under House although it infuses Hip-Hop and Pop elements. She’s worked with Okmalumkoolkat on “Ngiyashisa Bhe” and “Gqi”. Both songs are stylistically characterized under Gqi. Moreover, she’s worked with Dj Maphorisa (who worked with Drake on “One Dance”). Every artist who has collaborated with her has nothing but praises for her creativity. Her ability to infuse Tsonga into Hip-Hop is somewhat revolutionary. Similar to how Drake popularized the idea of being a singer-rapper (although there were existing pioneers), she's done the same with the growing rise of Tsonga rappers. She deserves the credit. Due to the repetitive nature of her likable hooks, one overlooks her ability as a rapper but she's shown that she can handle her own. Just look at her collaborative effort on Ms Cosmo’s all-star female song, “Ay Baby” which featured Rouge and Moozlie. She’s an MC by all means. She can't be boxed in as a one dimensional act. In fact, her ability is even beyond music. As an actress, she's appeared on “Isithembiso” – a firm indication of her serious work ethic and why South Africans love everything about her. She embraces everything about herself.
Sho may not have a lengthy career within Hip-Hop but she’s making serious waves. She’s a commercial success, a poet and MC alongside being an actress and a lovable personality. She’s got lots of attention on her and it's well deserved. She manages to push South African culture forward as she represents her heritage and brand proudly.