7 Rappers to watch in 2017

The rap game rookies the culture can't afford to sleep on

Words: Ndu Donsa | Images: Supplied

Earlier this year Rick Ross tweeted "It’s the year of the underdog" and I have to agree with Rozay on this one. Globally, more and more newcomers are blowing up in the hip-hop scene – artists like 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Roy Woods – and they're winning the hearts and minds of fans by dropping banging records and getting co-signs from some of the top rappers in the game.

Locally the rap game is in the best state it’s ever been, so who has the potential to step up in 2017? Well, looking at how they ended last year, here’s my list of the 7 rappers who could do some major things in the coming months, and by major things I mean heavy radio rotation, dope music videos and features that put them on blast.

Frank Casino

Frank Casino ended last year on a high note with a major co-sign from Cassper at the SA Hip Hop Awards. But the real news is ‘The Whole Thing’ – the remix track he did with Riky Rick. The track is a smash and Frank really held his own. I love the music video and how it was shot with so much texture and great cadence from Frank on this record. Frank’s one of the rappers on everyone’s lips and we're all waiting for his next single.

Nomuzi Mabena

Nomuzi Mabena is still a rookie in the rap world but everyone wants her to shine. She’s killing the game with her Skhanda Queen flow and style. Perhaps still better known as a TV personality, but you fresh out of luck if you don’t think she has bars.

Manu WorldStar

Manu WorldStar has the charisma, the flow and artistic ability. If you had to hear his record without knowing who you were actually listening to, you’d be sure that this is a much more established artist. The 22-year-old Joburg rapper deserves to have an incredible 2017, based on the infectious banger, ‘YEWN’, alone. The chorus is so catchy, you'd be doing yourself an injustice if you didn’t dance to this track.


Breeze has claimed the Zulu Bass King title, and if you’re from Durban and have seen Mr Trendsetter burning dance floors while rapping, you’d most definitely agree. An all-round entertainer who can dance and rap, Breeze has taken and owned the independent route.


crownedYung is another rapper holding it down in Durban. Relatively unknown but with talent that is sure to change that, this cat has been dropping big records while the game has been sleeping. It’s rare for a rookie to drop well-produced, full-length projects that have such dynamic storytelling and concepts behind them. crownedYung may be giving away too many hits all at once, but hey, that’s not necessarily always a bad thing, and we’re all going to catch up when the guy blows up.

Yung Swiss

Yung Swiss needs no introduction after dropping his Bottom Baby EP, which detailed his come-up and the many pressures he faces as an artist. Swiss has the buzz, the talent, the style and the swag to make 2017 his.


BlaQ-Slim is a rapper from Cape Town who recently dropped two singles off of his upcoming Diamond In The Rough EP. Slim truly reps Cape Town, infusing his lyrics with vernac. His words inspire the youth to go out and do what they need to do. Young, hungry and sure to blow up.

If you thought SA hip-hop had a great year last year then you’ll be as excited as I am for what 2017 is going to bring. While AKA is taking on white-owned media and Riky Rick is rubbing shoulders with A$AP Rocky at Milan Fashion Week, these up-and-coming rappers are snapping at their Gucci heels and getting ready to flourish. There’s a new energy on the streets and the game is about to get seriously competitive. Watch this space.