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By Kabelo Nthute

December is finally here and in a matter of a few weeks, we will be welcoming 2018. This year was, with no doubt, music's best year. From ‘One Dance' to ‘Omunye', ‘Trap' to ‘Gqom', it has been non-stop, great music.

So, on this list, we are counting down the 10 artists who owned 2017, whether it was through their music or other projects that put them on the map. Enjoy.

  1. Distruction Boyz

“Omunye phez'komunye Omunye phez'komunye Phez'komunye…â€Â, as soon as the beat drops, everyone just goes crazy. Starting the list are the masters of Gqom, the new age of music in South Africa, Distruction Boyz. They have become the poster boys for the genre and have recently claimed victory by having Apple Music list their album ‘Gqom is the Future', not as House on the streaming service, but under Gqom as a stand-alone genre. The album shut down the internet on the day of release, ensuring that Gqom really is the future. Their song ‘Omunye' is so addictive, it's on almost every radio station, has had many renditions including a church one and has even got a shout-out in South Africa's parliament (Dankie People's Bae). They are now looking for the album to go Gold and even Platinum, which will not only put the Durban-based genre on the map, but cement them as the only Gqom artists to reach that certification.

  1. Migos

Dreads, gold chains, gilded Cartier frames and Versace shades (Did I mention that they are blacked out), sticky Southern accents and bars spits, green cash (and kush) and yeah, hits too. And finally, in its purest form, the culture. “It's time to let the culture be known. It's time to claim itâ€Â are the words of one of the members of Migos, Offset. They cemented this lifestyle with the appearance on Donald Glover's ATLANTA, their #1 viral sensation “Bad & Boujeeâ€Â and their hit album CULTURE. The album, Culture debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and in a matter of 4 months from release, reached Platinum status. The group had everyone jumping at the 2017 BET Awards while performing ‘Too Hotty' and took home the BET Awards for Best Group and Best Collaboration. The trio also took over and rocked Durban and Johannesburg during their sold-out ‘Culture Tour' earlier this year, leaving all present in awe. Migos is on their way to the rap history books with ‘The Culture'.

  1. Nasty C

Being the youngest recipient for an award at the 2015 South African Hip Hop Awards, Nasty C has taken the South African Hip Hop scene by storm. The well- received remix for ‘Juice Back', gave him the much recognition that he needed, the hit single ‘Hell Naw' peaked at #4 and the much-anticipated album ‘Bad Hair' and later released ‘Bad Hair Extensions' dropped to rave reviews. He took over the 2017 Metro FM Music Awards, taking home, the biggest wins of the night including Best Hip Hop Album and Song of the Year. He then got 2 international nominations, first at the 2017 BET Awards for Best International Act and at the 2017 MTV EMA Awards for Best African Category. The 20-year-old also had an international collaboration with French Montana and has been featured on Major Lazer's ‘Particula' alongside internationally-acclaimed DJ Maphorisa. To top it all off, he has collaborated with Sportscene to launch a new sneaker range. Alongside a great year, he has had the nationwide ‘Ivyson Tour', which kicked off this year in August. Now that's what you call owning the year.

  1. Cardi B

Her debut solo single, "Bodak Yellow," came out of nowhere and topped Swift's much-anticipated, single "Look What You Made Me Do" on the Billboard Hot 100, making history in and of itself. Let the thought sink in that it was Cardi B's debut single and it became #1. Not only that, she's the first solo female rapper since Lauryn Hill in 1998, to top the Billboard Hot 100 in nearly 19 years. She started off as an exotic dancer, then an Instagram powerhouse and finally a female rapper, showing that in 2 years, a lot can be accomplished. The Bodak Yellow hitmaker won it all during this year's BET Hip Hop Awards, taking home 4 awards including the BET Hip Hop Award for Best New Hip Hop Artist and performing her hit single. Her year was finally topped off, when she got engaged to her partner and ‘Motorsport' collaborator Offset. Cardi B's story has begun and she looks like she is going to keep it running for a long time.

  1. SZA

After a delay, SZA's long anticipated debut album ‘Ctrl', dropped to universal acclaim. Ctrl debuted in the top five of the Billboard 200, and had multiple platinum-certified tracks, including ‘Love Galore' and ‘The Weekend'. NME and Consequence of Sound both considered it the 7th best album of the year and it is currently ranked 20th on Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2017. She recently received 2 awards out of 4 nominations at the BET Soul Train Awards including Best New Artist and Best R&B/Soul Female Artist. The Love Galore hitmaker is also 2 nominations behind her TDE labelmate Kendrick Lamar for the 2018 Grammy Awards, with 5 nominations including Best Artist, making her the most nominated woman for the night.

  1. Black Coffee

South Africa's internationally-acclaimed top DJ and national treasure, Black Coffee, has had an incredible year. Coffee's occasionally rubbing shoulders with greats like P Diddy and recently Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats. He and Enhle Mbali opened the year with a beautiful wedding full of admiration and awe. He then collaborated with Drake for the track, Get It Together, featuring Jorja Smith, which sampled Coffee's Superman, released 8 years ago. Talk about Inja Ye Game. In May, Forbes Africa listed him No. 2 on Forbes Africa's Top 10 Most Bankable Artists In Africa, one above the legend, Hugh Masekela. He also collaborated with Axe, introducing the limited-edition Axe Black by Black Coffee. All this and many more happened in just a matter of months, truly proving that he is our national treasure.

  1. Kendrick Lamar

“Be Humble, Sit Downâ€Â, a chorus that everyone easily spits along to, from one of the best tracks of the year. A "hard-nosed G check of his lessers, that pivots into imperfect critiques of beauty standards" were words stated by Pitchfork on the day of HUMBLE's release. Ever since then, everything sailed smoothly for the “greatest rapper aliveâ€Â (as he calls himself and Rolling Stone included) Kendrick Lamar. The song garnered 8 awards for its music video and he was awarded the Best Male Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards. His near-to-perfect 2017 album DAMN, earned him an American Music Award for Favourite Rap/Hip-Hop Album, the BET Hip Hop Award for Best Album of the Year and is currently #1 on Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2017. Kung Fu Kenny is also the second lead for nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards with 7 nominations including Album of the Year for DAMN, which would be a shock if he doesn't win.

  1. Kwesta

One person who will never forget this year is Kwesta. K1 has had an amazing run with several awards, feats and international collaborations to show for it. The rapper nabbed an armload of awards at the SAMAs (which should have been named the Kwesta Awards), inclunding Best Rap Album, Album of the Year and Best Male Artist. He also had a lavish Umembeso (traditional wedding) with his long-time partner, Yolanda Mvelase, then followed up with an extravagant white wedding. Among his upcoming international collaborations with Torey Lanez and Rick Ross, Dakar topped it all off with his 4th Platinum feat of the year, Spirit featuring international artist, Wale. The track sits amongst other Platinum certified hits, ‘N'gud', featuring Cassper Nyovest, ‘Ngiyaz'fela Ngawe' featuring Thabsie and the album ‘Dakar II'. ‘Spirit' is fast becoming one of the top selling Hip Hop acts in South Africa, securing him as one of the best rappers South Africa has produced.

  1. Bruno Mars

He first served as a guest vocalist on B.o.B and Travies McCoy's singles, then rocked the world with Just The Way You Are in 2011, and 6 years later he is called the “Pop Perfectionistâ€Â by Rolling Stone. Why is that? Let us tell you. Bruno Mars was recently honoured with Special RIAA Plaque saluting multiple '24k Magic' achievements. The eccentric album remained in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 for an impressive 44 consecutive weeks, was certified 2x Platinum and has had 4 billion+ streams worldwide. The tracks ‘24K Magic', ‘That's What I Like' and ‘Versace on the Floor' were certified 4x, 6x and 1x Platinum, respectively, making him the only artist in the past year to have both a 4x and 6x platinum single from the same album. He won big at this year's American Music Awards with 7 awards, including Artist of the Year and Favourite Pop/Rock Album, owning the night along with Diana Ross. The popstar is also among the top nominees for next year's Grammy Awards with 6 nominations including Album of the Year.

  1. Drake

Aubrey Drake Graham, better known as Drake, has had a hugely successful and record-breaking year, making the #1 spot on the list. Making #27 on the Rolling Stones' 50 best albums of 2017, More Life has bought home Drake multiple awards and records. The Champagne Papi received the Guinness World Record titles for Most simultaneous new entries in the Hot 100 by a solo act, Most simultaneous tracks on US singles chart by a solo artist, Most streams for tracks from one album in a week (USA) and Most US Hot 100 entries by a solo artist. Drake's One Dance with Wizkid (which has been listened to over 1.1 billion times) was named the Most streamed track on Spotify and the artist was also named the Most streamed act on Spotify. Are we done yet, no? The rapper owned the Billboard Music Awards this year, breaking Adele's record for Most Billboard Music Awards won by an artist in a single year. He won 13 awards in total including Top Male Artist, Top Billboard 200 Artist and Top Streaming Artist. He takes the crown for artists who owned 2017.


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