Toya Delazy – Greatest

Several African hip hop artists have left their homelands to continue pursuing a musical career in another country. However, their roots are often present in their lyrics and music, showing strong ties to their country of origin and the dialogue of the Diaspora. This is somewhat the case for South African hip hop artist Toya Delazy, whose real name is Latoya Nontokozo Buthelezi. At just 28 years old, the influential hip hop artist’s origins are from Durban, South Africa. However, Toya Delazy is currently based in London. Despite being based in London, Toya Delazy’s music illustrates strong influences of her South African history and upbringing, as well as influences of being based in London.

This is particularly seen in her 2017 music video “Greatest”. The overall tone of the video is upbeat, lighthearted and positive. The actual video begins with footage over a field which is most likely in her home country South Africa. The entire video is shot in this South African village setting, showing Toya Delazy with several other people, including children that are dancing and playing around her while she sings. At the very end of the music video when the song ends, the video shows Toya Delazy clapping in a large circle of South African women chanting and smiling in another language.

What is interesting about the music video for “Greatest” is that although it appears to be shot in South Africa and evokes strong ties and images of Toya Delazy’s upbringing, the song lyrics arguably have two different roles in the video. One way that the lyrics of “Greatest” add to the music video are that they talk about positive, happy things like ‘human love’ or ‘kisses by the tree’. These lyrics are paired with images of happy people in the South Africa village. However, there is arguably an alternative role to some of the lyrics in the video. For example, specifically when Toya Delzay talks about “getting a beach penthouse”, “drop top car” and “champagne, caviar”. When Toya Delzay talks about acquiring all these things, the video still shows images of several people who appear to not have that much in the South African village the video is being filmed in. This arguably shows a alternative view of being a diaspora artist. In particular, the way that the messages behind songs paired with strong imagery can become conflicting. 

Either way, the music video and lyrics of  “Greatest” illustrate Toya Delazy’s journey and narrative as a Diaspora South African hip hop artist. 

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