Here’s The Lowdown On The 2021 South African Music Awards Nominees List

The South African Music Awards (SAMAs) nominations list has, once again, been met with a lot of disapproval from music fans. This year’s edition, the 27th, features two new separate categories for amapiano and gqom music. However, the controversy around the snubbing of Limpopo-born singer Makhadzi has set tongues wagging since the nominees announcement on Wednesday evening, May 19. The likes of rapper Cassper Nyovest have since slammed the awards and Kelly Khumalo has requested that her nomination be rescinded. Kabza De Small leads the #SAMA27 nominees pack with six nods. The amapiano DJ and producer’s I Am The King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust, and Once Upon A Time in Lockdown with fellow Scorpion Kings member DJ Maphorisa, feature in the coveted “Album of the Year” category.


Sun-El Musician follows closely behind with five nominations. His stellar December 2020 album To the World & Beyond is nominated for, amongst others, “Best Live Audio Visual Recording of the Year”, “Best Dance Album”, “Best Produced Nomination” for Simmy’s debut album Tugela Fairy: Made of Stars alongside Claudio Wayde, Da Capo and Mpho Mohlolong.

Other notable nominations include rapper Boity’s 4436 scoring a nomination under “Best Hip-Hop Album” and Babes Wodumo for “Best Gqom Album”. Jazz artists Zoë Modiga and Thandi Ntuli were also recognised for their astounding efforts. Modiga’s soul-searing sophomore album Inganekwane earned her the “The Best Engineered Album” nomination, while Thandi Ntuli (Live at Jazzwerkstatt) got a slot in the “Best Jazz Album” category.

The “Rest of Africa Award” features, amongst others, Afrobeats darlings Davido and Wizkid contesting with Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol, South African singer Berita and Zimbabwe’s reggae artist Buffalo Souljah.

Fans alluded Makhadzi’s snub to the tribalism often levelled at Limpopo Province musicians. In an interview with TimesLIVE, RISA CEO Nhlanhla Sibisi said the 2021 SAMAs nomination list was “a reflection of the music industry and the movers and shakers who had the greatest impact” during 2020/21.

In solidarity with Makhadzi, Kelly Khumalo requested that her 2020 album The Voice of Africa which bagged the “Best Afropop Album” nomination be pulled out of #SAMA27 race. Hip-hop heavyweight Cassper Nyovest reached out to Makhadzi in a tweet that read, “Don’t worry, they [SAMAs] don’t mean anything anymore”. Cassper Nyovest had his own bitter moment with the SAMAs last year after his hit single “Doc Shebeleza”, which caused radical shifts in South Africa’s hip-hop scene, was snubbed. According to SA Hip-Hop Mag, the rapper labelled the SAMAs corrupt and expressed that his fans’ opinions actually mattered more than the awards.

Below is the full 2021 SAMAs nominees list

Album of the Year

  • Persistence – Bongo Riot
  • The Healers: The Last Chapter – Black Motion
  • Once Upon A Time in Lockdown – Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa (Scorpion Kings)
  • I Am The King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust – Kabza De Small
  • Back to Love – Junior Taurus

Duo/Group of the Year

  • Reece Madlisa & Zuma – Ama Roto EP
  • MFR Souls – Musical Kings
  • Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa (Scorpion Kings) – Once Upon A Time in Lockdown
  • Mas Musiq & Aymos – Shonamalanga
  • Mi Casa – We Made It

Female Artist of the Year

  • Reign Africa – On the Frontline
  • Bucy Radebe – Spiritual Encounter
  • Sho Madjozi – What a Life
  • Nomcebo Zikode – Xola Moya Wam’
  • Hle – Your Kingdom on Earth

Male Artist of the Year

  • Sun-El Musician – To The World & Beyond
  • Bongo Riot – Persistence
  • Kabza De Small – I Am The King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust
  • Oscar Mbo – For the Groovists
  • Junior Taurus – Back to Love

Newcomer of the Year

  • Xolly Mncwango – Jesus Is Enough
  • Reign Africa – On the Frontline
  • Africado – BandaBanda & The Crocodiles
  • Ingoma – Azana
  • Spiritual Encounter – Bucy Radebe

Best Rock Album

  • Chrome Neon Jesus – Ethyl Ether
  • Here’s to the Now – Nathan Smith
  • Orange Sunshine – Yum Yuck
  • The Devils Cattle – Ruff Majik
  • Nothing’s Gonna Change – Oooth

Best Pop Album

  • 11:11 – Rowlene
  • I Don’t Sleep – Jethro Tait
  • Tribes & Angels – Locnville
  • Sugar – Mark Stent
  • She – Amy Lilley

Beste Pop Album

  • 2021 – Die Heuwels Fantasties
  • Die Toekoms is Synth – Synth Peter
  • Twintig20 – Brendan Peyper
  • Gewigloos – Juan Boucher
  • Gemaklik Verlore – Christa Visser

Best Adult Contemporary Album

  • In the Kingdom of the Aloes – amaFranx
  • Repaired – Jack Atlantic
  • Rise – Ndlovu Youth Choir
  • Take Me To The River – Connell Cruise
  • The South African Songbook – Kurt Darren & The Soweto Gospel Choir

Beste Kontemporêre Musiek Album

  • Wandel In My Woning – Refentse
  • Herverbeel – Die Heuwels Fantasties
  • Net Geleen – Bernice West
  • Monumentaal – Ruhan Du Toit
  • Spontaan – Riaan Benadê

Best African Adult Contemporary Album

  • Umsebenzi – Sjava
  • Isambulo – 1020 Cartel Artists
  • Amakhaya – Max-Hoba
  • Bamako – Simphiwe Dana
  • Buhlebendalo – Chosi

Best Alternative Music Album

  • Mania/Post Mania – Yellow House
  • iimini – Bongeziwe Mabandla
  • Hot Mess – Evert Snyman
  • Filth and Wisdom – The Medicine Dolls
  • Ebusuku – Th&o

Best R&B/Soul Album

  • A Force To Be Reckoned With – Thando
  • LANGA – Langa Mavuso
  • Sindisiwe – LaSauce
  • Small World – Ricky Tyler
  • Uhambo – Soul Kulture

Best Hip Hop Album

  • 4436 – Boity
  • Nadia Naked II – Nadia Nakai
  • Zulu Man With Some Power – Nasty C
  • Pop Star – Yanga Chief
  • Zakwe & Duncan – Zakwe & Duncan

Best Kwaito Album

  • Sgubhu OverDoze – Lvovo & Danger
  • Endaweni – Darkie Fiction
  • Don’t Lose Hope – Sukiripapa
  • Bhut’Madlisa – Mampintsha
  • Ama Roto EP – Reece Madlisa & Zuma

Best Dance Album

  • To The World & Beyond – Sun-El Musician
  • For The Goovists – Oscar Mbo
  • Xola Moya Wam’ – Nomcebo Zikode
  • The Healers: The Last Chapter – Black Motion
  • We Made It – Mi Casa

Best Traditional Faith Music Album

  • Worship House Project 17, Chapter II – Worship House
  • Buya Nkosi – Thinah Zungu
  • Spiritual Encounter – Bucy Radebe
  • Wathi Eloyi Eloyi – Sipho Makhabane
  • Izulu – Sneziey

Best Contemporary Faith Music Album

  • Devotion – Nqubeko Mbatha
  • Face 2 Face – Collen Maluleke
  • Jesus is Enough – Xolly Mncwango
  • Your Kingdom on Earth – Hle
  • The Promised Revival Part One – Tshwane Gospel Choir

Best African Indigenous Faith Music Album

  • Makhosi Akithi – Vuma Zion
  • Izwi Lakho – Mandlethu Gospel Singers
  • Katlehong Gospel Choir Artist Development – Katlehong Gospel Choir Artist Development
  • Sithembe Wena Nkosi – JTG Gospel Choir
  • Enyokumkhonza – Enyonini Mission Ministries

Rest of Africa Award

  • Unity Album – Buffalo Souljah
  • A Better Time – Davido
  • Made in Lagos – Wizkid
  • Midnight Train – Sauti Sol
  • Songs in the Key of Love – Berita

Best Traditional Album

  • Love and War – Henny C
  • What a Life – Sho Madjozi
  • Angeke Bakuthande Boke – Smangele
  • Shebeen Queen – Vusi Mahlasela
  • Ndavhuko – Vendaboy Poet

Best Maskandi

  • Amagupta – iChwane Lebhaca
  • Ziyangiluma Izinja – Phuzekhemisi
  • Iqatha Eliziqobayo – Thokozani Langa
  • Banathi Shaqa – Imithente
  • Imfene Kamakhelwane – Abafana Baka Mgqumeni

Best Jazz Album

  • Africado – BandaBanda & The Crocodiles
  • An Open Dialogue – Linda Sikhakhane
  • iHubo Labomdabu – Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane
  • Modes of Communication: Letters From The Underworlds – Nduduzo Makhathini
  • Thandi Ntuli (Live at Jazzwerkstatt) – Thandi Ntuli

Best Classical/Instrumental Album

  • Live in Cape Town – Guy Battery & Derek Gripper
  • Imagine – Charles du Plessis Trio
  • Live in Lisbon – Nibs van der Spuy & Guy Battery
  • Tek’o – CH2
  • We’ve All Known All Times – Wouter Kellerman

Best Afropop Album

  • Ingoma – Azana
  • Molimo – Manu Worldstar
  • Ngumama – Vusi Nova
  • The Voice of Africa – Kelly Khumalo
  • Tugela Fairy (Made of Stars) – Simmy

Best Live Audio Visual Recording of the Year

  • Your Kingdom on Earth – HLE
  • The Throne (Live Edition) – Presss
  • Spiritual Encounter – Bucy Radebe
  • My Hart Klop Refentse – Refentse
  • A Journey to the World & Beyond – Sun-El Musician

Best Collaboration

  • ”Uthando” – Darque ft. Zakes Bantwini
  • ”Ek Like Hoe Jy Dans” – Chê ft. Snotkop
  • ”Mali Eningi” – Big Zulu ft. Riky Rick & Intaba Yase Dubai
  • ”Senzeni” – Mthandazo Gatya ft. Comado & DJ Manzo SA
  • ”Yehla Moya” – Da Capo & Nduduzo Makhathini ft. Omagugu

Best Produced Music Video

  • ”Where is the DJ” by Malumz on Decks ft. Khanyisa – Oscar Nyathi
  • ”Qhawe” – Made to Create by Toya Delazy – Kyle Lewis & Vjorn Tucker
  • ”Mamela” by Mi Casa – Katya Abedian
  • ”Lucky Star” by K.O – Adam Zackon & Dale Fortune
  • ”Hosh” by Prince Kaybee ft. Sir Trill – Ofentse

Best Produced Album of the Year

  • In the Beginning Was the End by Manana – Manana & Noble
  • Ithemba by Luyolo – Marcus MC & Andy Keys
  • Umsebenzi by Sjava – Delaydem, Ruff, Webmoms, Zadok & Vuyo Manyike
  • Tugela Fairy: Made of Stars by Simmy – Sun-El Musician, Claudio Wayde, Da Capo & Mpho Mohlolong
  • The Healers: The Last Chapter – Black Motion

Best Engineered Album of the Year

  • Swingle Bells by Jonathan Roxmouth – Adam Howard
  • Goodluck Upclose by Goodluck – Murray Anderson & Andrew Rawborn
  • Isambulo by 1020 Cartel Artists – Mfanafuthi Ruff
  • The Second Coming by Kid Tini – James Smals, Kitie, Ron Epidemic & Tweezy
  • Inganekwane by Zoe Modiga – Papi Diretsi & Songo Oyama

Remix of the Year

  • ”Jerusalema” – Kid Fonque
  • ”Ndanele” – Dwson
  • ”Sala Nabani” – Sun-El Musician, Claudio & Kenza
  • ”Speak Lord” – Sculpturedmusic
  • ”Yehla Moya” – Da Capo

Best Reggae Album

  • The Journey – Ras Canly
  • Persistence – Bongo Riot
  • My Music – Freeky
  • On the Frontline – Reign Africa
  • Empathy Riddim – Lavoro Duro

Best Amapiano Album

  • Musical Kings – MFR Souls
  • Back to Love – Junior Taurus
  • I Am The King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust – Kabza De Small
  • Once Upon A Time In Lockdown – Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa (Scorpion Kings)
  • Shonamalanga – Mas Musiq & Aymos

Best Gqom Album

  • We Don’t Play the Same Gqom – Que
  • Make Cape Town Great Again – Mshayi & Mr Thela
  • Isiqalo – DragerNation
  • InzaloYekwaito – Zinaro
  • Idando Kazi – Babes Wodumo