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The most trending South African music in 2024

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The most trending South African music in 2024

South African music has enjoyed time in the international limelight thanks to social media trends, and this will likely continue in 2024.

For a long time, South Africa’s diverse and varied socio-political environment has been reflected in its music. And whether it is mash-ups like Afropop, Afrotech or uniquely South African creations like Amapiano, Maskandi or even the rising-star genre of 3Step, there is simply no denying that this country knows how to jive.

However, with the exception of a few shooting stars, South African music is often overlooked in the international streaming charts. That is, of course, until social media suddenly made South African music one of the most trending topics worldwide.

How social media is taking South African music global

Until a few years ago, most people from overseas would be hard-pressed to name a South African musician outside of Hugh Masekela, Johnny Clegg, Lucky Dube, Miriam Makeba or Soweto Gospel Choir. However, it now seems like the tides may just be turning.

In the old days, most people relied on the radio and the television to find out what was hip and happening in the world of music. But these days, with all of the dance challenges and photo-dumps set to music, word spreads much, much faster.

Recapping the most viral South African songs of 2023

Social media connects people across continents like no other form of communication, and as a result, it seems like the rhythmic base and unique sounds of the South African music scene has finally spilled over to the rest of the world. Some prime examples of South African music breaking the international barrier and going viral in 2023 include:

The song The artist The story
Water Tyla These days, nothing makes a song go viral quicker than a TikTok dance challenge. The “Water” dance challenge took the world by storm after the song’s release in 2023. “Water” has now amassed over 140 million views on YouTube and has surpassed 100 million streams on Spotify. The song has even enjoyed attention from various international celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Hudson and more.
Mnike Tyler ICU (featuring DJ Maphorisa, Nandipha808, Ceeka RSA & Tyron Dee) “Mnike” caused quite the stir online when confusion erupted about how to pronounce the song’s title. More than 41 million users have now viewed the video for “Mnike” on YouTube and it now has over 40 million streams on Spotify.
Yahyuppiyah Lungelihle “Uncle Waffles” Zwane (featuring Pcee, Eeque & Chley) “Yahyuppiyah” has already amassed more than 6.3 million views on YouTube in less than a year, and surpassed 20 million streams on Spotify.

What sets South African music apart?

When Tyla’s “Water” hit the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2023, she became the first South African solo artist to reach this milestone since Hugh Masekela did more than five decades ago.

But just because South African music (and the artists who work so hard to craft this music and these lyrics) is often neglected in international spaces –it does not necessarily make it any less exciting and ground breaking.

In fact, there are reasons why songs like “Water”, “Mnike” and “Yahyuppiyah” often go viral on social media these days. These are, in part, because South African beats and the unique way in which South African Amapiano, hip hop and dance music meshes traditional elements with contemporary sounds is simply unlike anything else in the world.

Forging new connections

After skyrocketing to the top of trending pages and charts globally, South African emerging artists are now starting to form important international connections, which may lead to even more semi-South African hits in the future.

Uncle Waffles has received shout-outs from stars like Drake, Omarion and even Ciara, whereas Tyla has now partnered with rapper, Travis Scott, to create a “Water” remix.

The future of trending South African music

The South African music scene is absolutely filled-to-the-brim with talent and there is certainly lots of opportunity for local artists to take their social media fame and run with it. 2024 is only just starting to exit its first quarter and there are already a few contenders for the next trending South African song.

“Masithokoze” by DJ Stokie and Eemoh has spent 20 weeks on the Billboard charts and is certainly a top contender for the next South African trending song. But “Tshwala Bami” by Chillies Rsa has had a pretty notable resurgence on the South African corner of TikTok this year.

One thing that is certain, however, is that if another South African song is going to trend on social media in 2024 – it will probably be accompanied by some sort of Bacardi, or otherwise African-inspired dance routine.