In 2006 Soweto born veteran rapper Linda PRO Mkhize a started Dankie San.
This started as a common phrase used in the start and the ending of many of his popular hit songs such as Woz’uzobona, Soweto, Fede Fokol and Sekele to mention few. This was one of many rappers who started the resurgence of South African rappers, tapping into the merchandise game to grow their brands and have extra revenue streams besides their music. We saw the likes of Hip Hop Pantsula pushing their merchandise, Khuli Chana had his signature snapbacks which kept our heads high. We even saw Cash Time Life building a staple which took over the streets of Africa and doing collaborations with streetwear brands with Head Honcho.
2016 marked an evolution of rappers dabbling into this industry. We see this idea birthed a product of the music industry, growing and expanding in heights we could not have foreseen as streetwear custodians. We have rap artist AKA doing amazing work by creating an experience for the customer by having pop-up stores for his Supa Mega shows. Basically giving consumers a tour merch fashion show in a big way, by collaborating with influential retailers at every city the tour was held, rather than just having a table in the corners during his shows. Riky Rick aka “King Kotini” tied his hit song Sidlukotini with a limited range of t-shirts inspired by Death Row Records. “The Electronic” Bushman aka Anatii gave consumers a visual experience with his Artifact merch line with t-shirts and hoodies which was added to his tour.
This had led us to believe that collaborations between music artists and fashion designers will be more prominent this year and that the merchandise industry will disrupt the international streetwear sales and market, helping our local streetwear brands to collaborate with rappers in more successful merchandise projects.
2017 will be an interesting year for this industry, as we anticipate how South African rappers will be pushing the envelope in this field. With artists such as K.O coming back in the field with his signature clothing “Dustn Kompany”, Cassper Nyovest expanding his range too. Not to mention artists like Da L.E.S and Okmalumkoolkat gracing the streets with their brands as well. Will it be safe to say South African rappers are turning into fashion designers?