Musicians Who Are Defining Gqom, the Sound of South Africa's Townships

Distruction Boyz | © Pilot Films / YouTube
Distruction Boyz | © Pilot Films / YouTube
Photo of Andrew Thompson
Freelance Writer - February 2018

Gqom may be the most exciting and infectious genre to come out of South Africa in recent years. Originally emerging out of the townships of Durban, it’s now drawn in fans from across South Africa. As the genre becomes more established and continues to grow, so too do the key artists who continue to define the movement. These are the musicians who are defining gqom.

Distruction Boyz

Late last year, Distruction Boyz became the first artists with a strictly gqom album to reach gold status. The Durban dance duo have been filling up dance floors – and emanating from taxis – since they launched themselves onto the scene. Many consider them as being instrumental in catapulting gqom out of the Durban townships and into the national arena. They beat out the traditionally more popular genres of hip hop, reggae and afro-dancehall at the Redbull Culture Clash last year, and yet it feels as if they’re only getting started.

Distruction Boyz | © Pilot Films / YouTube

Babes Wodumo

Self-proclaimed Queen of Gqom Babes Wodumo has proven her worth with a string of hits and a massive fanbase. She’s picked up nominations from the MTV Europe Music Awards in the Best African category and from the BET Awards, and has set social media alight with her bed jumping antics. Though she wasn’t the first to create an iconic gqom anthem, she’s been instrumental in getting it global recognition.

Babes Wodumo | © Pilot Films / YouTube


Busiswa is a prolific gqom hit producer, and through catchy collabs with DJ Maphorisa, she’s gaining massive traction. Busiswa and DJ Maphorisa are a powerful duo who have helped to elevated and define the sound of gqom, and her use of multiple languages, including English, has done a lot to endear her to a wider fanbase.

Busiswa | © Universal Music / YouTube


Tipcee is a female gqom artist signed to DJ Tira’s music label, Afrotainment. She’s released a string of hits, which included collaborations with Distruction Boyz, Busiswa, Malume and DJ Tira herself. She also has a single on the Afrotainment Summer 2017 album.

Tipcee | © Afrotrainment / YouTube

DJ Lag

DJ Lag has been part of the gqom scene since 2013, and though his start was quiet and humble, he’s risen to the top of the genre in the country, so much so that he’s known as the Gqom King. His hit track Ice Drop, which came out in early 2017, catapulted him onto the intentional scene, and with recent performances in London and New York, it’s clear he’s set for much bigger things.

DJ Lag | Georg Gatsas

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