Who are South Africa's biggest producers?

Johannesburg - They’re the people behind SA’s biggest tracks – the masters who decide what you’ll be listening to and when. With the help of Kaya FM’s DJ Wandi and some talented local artists, Phumlani S Langa tells us who makes the best beats in each genre.


Gqom can be described as a modern take on kwaito. It’s the trap to our hip-hop, fusing the vocal delivery associated with kwaito and the kasi beats of Bacardi house to form a forceful sound that’s popular in December. This genre has given Durban some much-needed cool.

1) DJ Tira

Years in the game: Thirteen

Standout track: Ubala featuring Big Nuz

Standout album: Durban’s Finest Vol 1 and 2

Most recent banger: Midnight Starring featuring DJ Maphorisa, Busiswa and Moonchild

DJ Wandi says:

"A super deejay and producer, a hard worker and dedicated businessman who represents KwaZulu-Natal very well. Everything he touches turns golden. He has created and featured in so many anthems and club bangers. My highlights are supergroup Big Nuz’s Ubala and Umlilo. DJ Tira made sure that it’s a fact: Durban rocks!"

Dance artist Moonchild, who collaborated on Midnight Starring, says:

"I heard the beat and loved it. I did my verse and we performed the track at a Gqom night at Taboo. Tira was there and added a verse, as well as some of his iconic flavour on the production."

2) DJ Zinhle

Years in the game: Twelve

Standout track: Shumaya by Trademark featuring Dbn Nyts

Standout album: My Name Is (Remixes)

Most recent banger: Shakalumba

DJ Wandi says:

"Firstly, she’s from a small town and has risen to great heights. A legend, really. We’ve worked together recently and she’s great. Her approach to music is admirable and she’s in the process of building many careers through her deejay school for girls."

Pop/kwaito artist Tamara Dey, who worked with DJ Zinhle on Colours, says:

"It’s been a dream working with Zinhle. We have the same work ethic and are equally obsessed with music and fashion. The track came together naturally and we’re thrilled about how South Africans have embraced it."


It usually takes on characteristics of the dominant genre in the world. Right now that is hip-hop, which is why Katy Perry beats sound a lot like fluffy trap. We’re still fortunate to have soul in our pop, perhaps because the peeps on production have more than just one genre under their belts.

1) Tshepang ‘RMBO’ Ramoba

Years in the game: Sixteen

Standout track: Zol by the BLK JKS

Standout albums: Daylight by Fortune Shumba, and Rabulapha! by Moonchild

Most recent banger: Rolling Stone by Robin Thirdfloor

DJ Wandi says:

"Post Post Music agency’s chief is an experimental producer and deejay who enjoys fusing different sounds and genres. As drummer for the BLK JKS, he toured the world, which gives him an edge that most creatives need. I like Robin Thirdfloor’s Somdanger from this stable."

Dance artist Fortune Shumba, who collaborated with Ramoba on his Daylight EP, adds:

"The sessions for Daylight were the bomb! I felt freedom in that studio. He allows you the freedom to tell your story in the purest sense as a producer. He is just a spirit in the space, nothing is ever filtered. That was eye-opening for me."

2) Sketchy Bongo

Years in the game: Fifteen

Standout track: Let You Know featuring Shekhinah

Standout album: Unmasked

Most recent banger: Love Me in the Dark featuring Kaien Cruz

DJ Wandi says:

"A breath of fresh air, the masked supercreative is a talented producer who has millennial and global appeal. He’s enjoying a meteoric rise and we should expect more from this young and gifted producer, deejay and visual artist. His strongest offering is still Let You Know with Shekhinah."

Pop artist Shekhinah, who worked with Sketchy Bongo on Let You Know, says:

"Working with Sketchy was cool as I feel we’re on a similar level. He gave me room to do my thing and knows my voice well."


Trap and hip-hop are the leading sounds on the airwaves. The number of hip-hop artists grows daily and it’s hard to keep up. We have the numbers, but the quality is by and large still far off the mark. These producers seem to have skill and creativity, as well as the output required to truly conduct the vibes on our playlists.

1) Tweezy

Years in the game: Six

Standout track: Run Jozi by AKA featuring K.O and Yanga

Standout album: Hustla of the Year

Most recent banger: On It by DJ Sliqe featuring Shekhinah

DJ Wandi says:

"Tweezy displays our ability as a country to match global standards and trends. He delivers dope vernacular lyrics on catchy and heavy beats that attract heavyweights such as Khuli Chana and Ice Prince on the epic remix of his hit, Ambitions."

Rapper and poet Stogie T, who collaborated with Tweezy on the tracks Walk and Big Dreams, says:

"On my latest album, I wanted to work with some of the younger cats. I figured this would help stretch and push me. I had to have Tweezy. He’s one of the best young guns we have and the beats are proper."

2) Ganja Beatz

Years in the game: Seventeen

Standout track: I’ve Seen It All by Youngsta CPT

Standout album: The Cape and Good Dope

Most recent banger: Wes Kaap, by Youngsta CPT

DJ Wandi says:

"Ganja Beatz are the future of South African hip-hop. They’ve worked with most superstars in Mzansi, but their collaboration with Youngsta CPT on Wes Kaap is a standout."

Rapper Youngsta CPT, who collaborated with Ganja Beatz on The Cape and Good Dope, says:

"We didn’t want to rush the process, but we also had to draw the line on when to stop recording as we just kept at it."

Deep House

A few years ago, deep House was the most downloaded music genre on the planet. While it has waned a little, we still have creative producers who fly the flag locally and internationally.

1) Black Coffee

Years in the game: Twelve

Standout track: Superman featuring Bucie

Standout album: Africa Rising

Most recent banger: Get It Together by Drake, featuring Black Coffee and Jorja Smith

DJ Wandi says:

"He is the ultimate producer … an amazing human being with extraordinary talent. He is a living legend who has taken the world by storm while remaining rooted in Mzansi. He’s been making hits and club bangers for so long, it’s tough to pick my favourite, but Superman featuring Bucie stands out as the best South African music export."

Alternative singer, songwriter and actor Nakhane, who collaborated with Black Coffee on We Dance Again, says:

"Black Coffee messaged me on Twitter and it took a while for me to believe it was actually him. He said he loves my music, so we did two songs together – one good and one bad. We were more comfortable with each other after we did We Dance Again."

2) DJ Kent

Years in the game: Eight

Standout track: Spin My World Around featuring The Arrows

Standout album: The Weekent

Most recent banger: Your Love featuring Ziyon

DJ Wandi says:

"DJ Kent is one of my favourite producers in Mzansi – his production and remixes are epic, and his ability to cross over markets is magical. Monumental tracks from his catalogue include Falling featuring Maleh, and what was once a national anthem and his strongest offering, Spin My World featuring The Arrows. My favourite hit is Don’t Let Go featuring Mo-T of Mi Casa."

Ziyon, the DJ, vocalist and producer who collaborated with DJ Kent on Your Love, says:

"Our working relationship has been great. We have similar temperaments. The music is the most important thing to us. What I respect about his production style is his attention to detail and ear for texture. He knows what is needed to take a song to the level of a smash hit. The same goes for the people he chooses to work with and the tracks he chooses to create."

(Photos: Supplied)

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24