South Africa: A Genre Confused Special Edition Playlist

A specially curated guest mix on the decks today from Calum Mitchell. Follow Calum here and check out ‘South Africa: A Genre Confused Special Edition’ here.


Years of civil and political turmoil often lead to inspired and socially conscious music; South Africa is no different. It is a country with a rich and diverse musical heritage and this playlist hopefully provides a small snapshot of this. Featuring essential classics from well-known legends, songs from my childhood as well as a few contemporary artists, hopefully you’ll find something you enjoy. I have only picked one song from each artist so there is so much more to discover!

Brenda Fassie – Vuli Ndlela

South Africa’s tragic pop princess. Brenda Fassie is often referred to as ‘The Black Madonna’ – a hint at her reputation for ‘outrageousness’, substance abuse as well as a proclivity to make great pop music. ‘Vuli Ndlela’ is without a doubt Fassie’s most enduring hit and a staple of every pop radio station in South Africa. Wonderfully upbeat and catchy, the song signified a different vibe to Fassie’s anti-apartheid back catalogue and subsequently revived the troubled singer’s career.

Mafikizolo – Ziphi Nkomo

The duo’s discography is as impressive as any South African artist from the last 25 years. Picking one song was extremely difficult but I had to include ‘Ziphi Nkomo’. The song is essentially split into two parts, with a more instrumentally upbeat and traditional township opening, squaring off with a smooth house finish. God-like SA DJ, Black Coffee (also featured on the playlist), reverses the song in a different version – I’m not sure which I prefer!

Malaika – Destiny

One of my favourite pop songs from any country, not just SA. Growing up in Cape Town, you could not escape this song whether you were watching music TV channels or listening to the radio. It is ingrained in my conscious as a result, not that I’m complaining! Unbelievably catchy and satisfying, this song is perfect for an uplifting listening experience.

Hugh Masekela – Don’t Go Lose It Baby (Stretch Mix)

No SA music playlist is complete without including the man himself, Hugh Masekela. African jazz legend and all-round awesome guy, Masekela has had arguably the most influence on global music out of all my featured artists. Jazz purists may not be happy that I’ve included a house remix of one of his classics but it’s one of my favourite remixes of all time.

Mandoza – Nkalakatha

South Africa’s unofficial national anthem. You are guaranteed to hear this at any sporting event situated in the country and for good reason. The kwaito legend achieved mainstream success with this tune, and it remains one of my all-time favourites to this day and brings back particularly fond memories.

Thapelo Khomo // Contribution

Thapelo Khomo was born and raised in Soweto, South Africa. I found this track on an album a friend sent over called Thapelo Khomo Presents: The African Groove Experience Volume 2 on the label African Cream. Check out both hyper-links, really cool vibes here.
Khomo’s music career took off with the group Kataki in 1984. In 1985, he toured France and the USA with Malopoets, which earned him a place as keyboardist in the prominent South African super-group Stimela. Absolutely great vibes to check out. Happy Monday! Em

Beatenberg // Pluto

I am a big fan of South African trio ‘Beatenberg’, they fuse a lot of genres together to create their sound. I hear reggae, world, pop and many other genres in their music. This track is one of my favourites and really gives you an amazing snapshot of their sound. Their album ‘The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg‘ is absolutely fantastic, there is a great hook in every single track. Definitely one to check out! Em