There is a chance of prejudice and unintentional exclusions in a review of South Africa music popular music over the past three decades. It is suggested that the reader consider this overview to be an open-ended document that should be supported by additional study, beginning with the musicians’ directory for Music in Africa. It examines the four most common genres of the past three decades and discusses some of the most significant trends, performers, and albums.
The term “bubblegum” implied that the politically ambiguous, technologically sophisticated music of the 1980s was throwaway and mass-produced. The majority of the people who developed this new, American-influenced sound detested the name and preferred titles like “disco.” The late Brenda Fassie was the decade’s iconic figure despite the turbulent politics of the time. Koloi Lebona transported Brenda from Cape Town to Johannesburg, where she quickly joined Blondie Makhene’s touring band, with whom she co-wrote the 1983 big single, “Weekend Special,” as Brenda & The Big Dudes. The song served as a precursor to the bubblegum period. Brenda put forth a number of successful albums, such as Cool Spot, Touch Somebody, Higher and Higher, and the historical Black President.
During the “bubblegum” period, cutting-edge artists and producers were exposed to fresh, worldwide sounds like house and hip-hop. The kwaito sound that served as the soundtrack of the 1990s was the result of these new inspirations, their mastery of electronic South Africa music production, and the quickly shifting political landscape. Together, these factors created a fertile field for creative expression. Numerous additional great and significant performers sprang from the kwaito culture, which is still well-liked today. The late Brown Dash, Doc Shebeleza, Mapaputsi, Mzekezeke, Mzambiya, Msawawa, Mshoza, Spikiri, Joe Nina, Skeem, Kaybee, Skizo, Sharon Dee, Chakaroski, Oda Meesta, and Zola are further notable performers.
In the late 1990s, the region’s constantly changing music began to shift. Brenda Fassie’s 1998 song Memeza released a new kind of dance music that became known as Afro-pop, just as kwaito appeared to be on the cusp of a worldwide success. Brenda’s groundbreaking release inspired other bands to create the sound, which they then used to great success. The group Malaika, who debuted in 2003 with a latest foreign music produced by kwaito legend Guffy, won SAMA honours for Most Popular Artist and Song of the Year despite the record’s release a year earlier. The group’s international smash “Destiny” established the sound of Afro-pop as separate from kwaito and house.