Here Are Some Of The Best South African Songs of 2023

Written by on 14 December, 2023

From Afropop and hip hop to maskandi and the different offshoots of house, gqom, South African music, across the spectrum, continues to thrive. In 2023, we saw the rise of 3Step, a fairly new pulsating hybrid dance music genre that blends elements of Afrotech and amapiano. Similarly, creative fusions, remixes, and revisits of yesteryear sounds and songs, with contemporary soundscapes, were also dominant this year. The music remained hyper-productive without compromising on quality, and considering how vast the spectrum of SA music is, there’s something to cater to listeners’ preferences and different palates.

Check out our picks for The Best South African Songs of 2023 below:

Image: Twitter


The career of South Africa’s pop princess, Tyla, rocketed to new heights this year. Her viral single “Water” and its accompanying dance challenge became a global smash and peaked in the top 10 Billboard Hot 100 charts. The sultry tune, carried by the breakout star’s velvety vocals, has received two remix treatments from international acts Marshmello and Travis Scott.

With every release, Dlala Thukzin always seems to catch at least one hit record. On the sequel of his Permanent Music EP series, that song is the Zaba and Sykes-featuring “iPlan.” Since its release in September, the track’s reverberating hook has been ringing throughout the country’s corners.

A year after its release, Oscar Mbo gave his single “Yes God” with KG Smallz and Dearson a new lease of life through a remix package. The 10-track project contains reworked song versions by Kabza De Small, Kelvin Momo, CocoSA and more. However, the Morda and Thakzin remix became a standout. The trio continued the proven hit-making streak they first displayed on Morda’s seminal 2022 track, “Mohigan Sun.”

Acclaimed multi-mixer/producer DJ Kent has given his 2022 track “Horns In The Sun” remix treatment, courtesy of Morda, Thakzin & Brenden Praise, Chronical Deep and China Charmeleon. While he may not be as active as he was in the 2000s and early 2010s, Kent’s prowess for producing quality music has not left him and enlisting younger talents proves that he is still tapped in. The Thakzin remix, in collaboration with Morda and Brenden Praise, is a musical odyssey of symphonic horns and majestic drums.

This year, two musical heavyweights, Sjava and Big Zulu joined their powers to form Inkabi Zezwe. The debut single as a duo, “Umbayimbayi” became an instant hit and chart-topper. Within a few months after release, the thumper achieved multi-platinum status. In May, Inkabi Zezwe also put out their collaborative album, Ukhamba, which has since hit gold and was amongst the most streamed SA albums on Spotify.

Legendary musician AKA tragically passed away earlier this year while preparing to release his LP, Mass Country. The KDDO-assisted “Company,” dropped a few days after his untimely loss as the album’s lead single. His fans and casual listeners received the song well, proving that the artist may no longer be with us physically, but his music will live forever.

Inkabi Records’ Lwah Ndlunkulu ushered the year with the heart-warming ballad “Ngiyeza.” On the track, the singer-songwriter expresses her undying love for her romantic partner and her relentless wish for them to stay together. Much like her previous single, “iThuba,” the song is produced by and has additional vocals from her label mates Xowla (Stallion) and Siya Ntuli. The artist dropped her debut album, Imizwa, to close off the incredible year she had.

After being a guest vocal feature on a handful of house tracks since 2020, Sykes finally had a breakthrough as a lead artist this year. The burgeoning vocalist’s official debut single, “Sisekakeni Babies,” produced by Skillz and Rude Boyz, put him on everyone’s watch list — Apple Music even selected him for their Up Next campaign.

In August, rising Afropop acts Fezeka Dlamini and Naledi Aphiwe teamed up with fellow KZN singer/songwriter Nomfundo Moh on their single, “Uyangijabulisa.” Relatable, sincere lyrics and heartfelt crooning made a snippet of the song go viral on TikTok before it was officially released.

In late January, esteemed musician Sjava shared his third full-length project, Isibuko, his most introspective work yet. The album’s lead single, “Isoka” is an Afropop record, which features the duo Q Twins and maskandi artist Mzulukulu and has the artists take turns to express how a lady loves whoever she loves. During the year’s first quarter, the enchanting track was nominated for Best Collaboration and Song Of The Year.

The globetrotting Master KG via his imprint Wanitwa Mos and frequent collaborator Nkosazana Daughter, joined forces yet again in time for the summer. The melodic track is an amapiano-influenced revisit of Dalom Kids’ hit and has Nkosazana’s mesmerizing vocals, adding a new flare to the already infectious original record.

Following the success of her singles “Ngiyeza” and “iThuba,” Inkabi Records’ first lady, Lwah Ndlunkulu, continued her impressive rise with another hit record. Much like her previous tracks, the romantic ballad is produced by Xowla (aka Stallion) and has backing vocals from Siya Ntuli. A few weeks after dropping the song in August, the Afropop star walked away with the Song of The Year award and Artist of The Year trophies at the inaugural Basadi in Music Awards.

Maskandi superstar Mthandeni SK, fondly known as Igcokama Elisha recruited Lwah Ndlunkulu on his record hit “Paris.” The unlikely collaboration made waves shortly after its August release and resonated with fans of both musicians. The track has become the biggest Maskandi and one of the most streamed songs this year.

Master KG’s Wanitwa Mos imprint is a gift that keeps giving. Casswell P, an artist signed to the label, caught a slow burner with “Mangihlale” alongside vocalist Lwami and his stable boss. Stylistically, the song lies within the hit-proven signature sound of Wanitwa Mos.

It is 2023, and Goldmax is still dishing hits. The Gqom hitmaker has been on a solo journey for some time now and has established himself as one of the power players on the Gqom scene. He previously dropped the album “Amaketanga.” The project housed eleven tracks and featured contributions from Siboniso Shozi, Dladla Mshunqisi, Worst Behaviour, Beast RSA, and Afrotainment boss DJ Tira. They all did a fantastic job on the album. Of course, Goldmax earned praise for it.He has returned with another banging entry. His new song is titled “Mali Talk” and features contributions from Sykes and Worst Behaviour, who did a great job on it.

What’s your 2023 song?



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