HHAP Ep 73: A Discussion on Race and Identity in South African Hip Hop

In part 2 of our conversation with Dr. Sipho Sithole, he discusses the regional differences in South African hip hop. He talks about the hip hop scenes in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. He also discusses the linguistic differences in South African hip hop and the role ethnic identity plays in the styles and languages artists utilize. He also looks at the evolution of pop music in South Africa, from kwaito, to gqom, to amapiano.


Sipho also discusses the dynamics within Coloured communities in South Africa, and the relationships between Black and Coloured South Africans. He provides history of the origins of Coloured South Africans among the Khoi & San (first nation) communities, and their forming close-knit communities. The hip hop that came out of those communities, largely based in Cape Town, addressed the social ills happening in the Coloured townships. In looking at the divisions between Black and Coloured South Africans, we compare it to the relationships between African Americans and African immigrants in the U.S.


There are not many discussions around Black & Coloured relations in South African hip hop, so it was important to get a perspective on the history of those relationships.

Intro song: “Yesterday” with Zakwe, Zuluboy, & Zola

Dr. Sipho Sithole (@DrSiphoSithole) is a Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (University of Johannesburg) and holds a PhD in Anthropology, a B.Sc in Political Science and International Relations, and an M. Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Dr. Sithole’s research revolves around language identity, culture, migration, and integration. Sithole has a long career in hip hop & is the founder and owner of an important and multi-award-winning music production house, Native Rhythms Productions, & Native Rhythms Records.

Interview in Audio

Interview in Video

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