Best Of 2020: Indie Releases

During a year where it wasn’t necessarily the easiest to create and market an EP or album, these were the releases that stood head and shoulders above the pack for reasons that will become clear once you make the correct decision to press play on all of them.

NLite – NLite

So many of the hip hop cats on the SA scene approach the music with great bars, but weak musicality and production. NLite truly understand and express the overlap between jazz and hip hop with conviction and talent, and all I want to do when I listen to their album is roll a blunt… not my eyes.  – Al Clapper

Langa Mavuso – LANGA

Glowing in exquisite harmony, soul-wrenching vocals and contemporary spirit, Langa is in a league of his own, boasting a spirit for contemporary soul and traditional songwriting that will likely never leave him. – Alessandro Gueli

Zoë Modiga – Inganekwane

Zoë Modiga is one of the most powerful vocalists in the country, but she doesn’t only rely on her voice. She’s an incredible writer who approaches every project with a complete vision of what it takes to create a cohesive work of art and Inganekwane is exactly that. – Al Clapper

AmaFranx – AmaFranx in the Kingdom of the Aloes

With AmaFranx at the helm, it’s incredible that 12 players could accomplish such a massive sound. It’s the coming together of big musical minds with even bigger ears, to create something truly original. It’s so intricately detailed, and carefully curated that you’d have to listen to the album 20 times over to hear the same thing twice. – Al Clapper

Honeymoan – Weirdo

Weirdo is everything you could possibly want from an indie-pop EP, replete with all the trimmings that make a feel-good record, without any of the pretentiousness that can often accompany it. – Jessica Littlewood

Ruff Majik – The Devil’s Cattle

Ruff Majik don’t hold back on their latest record and the result is an album of controlled chaos that never ceases to surprise. Without a doubt one of the finest, most well-produced rock albums of the year. – Daniel Luckhoff-Wessels

Bongeziwe – iimini

This is a 12-track cohesive journey that moves through a love story from beginning to end, with clarified and candid eclecticism, where layered isiXhosa vocals collide with staggered beats and textured synths. – Tecla Ciolfi

Chantel Van T – Nicalochan

Chantel weaves fragile, lilting, gossamer folk tales of love and loss and melancholia – before wrapping up on a beautifully constructed ode to coming home after a long trip. And that’s just what this album feels like. – Alessandro Gueli

ByLwansta – SPIJØNGET Chapter II

Every track on this release is pivoted off searing, narrative lyricism which lays the rapper’s heart and mind out on his sleeve for your perusal, focusing on growth and the growing pains which come with it. – Tecla Ciolfi

Lakei – Same As Last Time

This record blends elements of heartfelt R&B and hard-hitting hip hop to create something confident, catchy and complete and in all honesty, the rest of the country are sleeping on Lakei so hard and it’s time to wake up. – Gavin Pierce