This article provides an overview of hip hop music in Botswana, explaining its socio-economic origins, its early stages of development and its rise in popularity in the early 2000s, as well as the development of the motswako sub-genre and the future prospects for hip hop in the country.
Botswana hip hop in the 2000s
With the turn of the millennium, the fortunes of the genre improved significantly, with new acts such as Tha Orakle, Apollo Diablo, Zeus, Scar and Stagga gaining widespread recognition. The genre quickly overtook kwaito in terms of popularity, with DJ Sid and Prez Beatz producing the popular P-Side Compilation, which featured notable emcees such as Mista Doe, Nomadic/Mr T, Scar and Desma/Ice Queen.
Interestingly, radio again played an important role in popularising the genre, with shows like Draztik’s Strictly Hip Hop Live on RB2 and Yarona FM’s Sprite Rap Activity commanding a notable following.
This surge in popularity allowed Botswana hip hop to penetrate the southern African region, exemplified by Mista Doe winning the Best Southern African Artist Channel O Award in 2006 (for Hot to Death) and Nomadic/Mr T’s Soul Aqua gaining wide critical plaudits.
Post-2010: The evolution of motswako hip hop
Over the years, Botswana’s hip hop artists have tried to localise the genre by fusing English with vernacular languages, leading to the creation of motswako hip hop. Rapping in local vernacular makes the music accessible to most Batswana and allows the music to reflect the language and culture of the region, with motswako artists infusing rhymes with metaphors in multiple languages.
Zeus has been the face of motswako hip hop in recent years. Born Game Bantsi, Zeus is an internationally celebrated Botswana artist who continues to make strides in the music industry. The star, and former Big Brother Africa participant, has been nominated multiple times by the US-based Africa Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA). As he told Sunday World in 2013, “Motswako is a genre because we are Tswanas [and] we automatically become a big community. We are just young boys promoting Tswana culture and we are driven by language. I am about Africanism, my sound has a lot to do with being authentic. I want young Africans to embrace being who they are through my music.”
The post-2010 hip hop boom in Botswana has also seen the emergence of prominent female rappers. The country’s most decorated is Sasa Klaas who is known for her energetic stage presence and the hits ‘HADSAN’ and ‘Mma Mongwato’. Sasa Klaas has performed at the DStv iRock Festival in South Africa and co-hosts the Highly Inappropriate With Phat Joe TV show (2018).
Future of the genre
Judging by recent attendance figures at festivals and shows, airplay and social media interest, the future of Botswana hip hop looks bright. The annual Motswako Invasion, a festival that promotes local hip hop, has been growing over the years. Meanwhile, rapper Kast filled Botswana’s National Stadium with 20 000 people for a show in May 2017.
Resources and citations:
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-  &  http://allafrica.com/stories/200702070941.html
- , , , , , ,  &  http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=7&aid=19&dir=2009/November/Thursday12/
-  http://www.sundaystandard.info/popularity-botswana-hip-hop-not-translating-album-sales
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_O_Music_Video_Awards
- ,  &  https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/sundayworld/lifestyle/2013-11-13-zeus-the-…
-  http://www.pulse.ng/buzz/afrimma-2015-davido-m-i-wizkid-yemi-alade-nomin…
-  http://botswanaunplugged.com/9924/sasa-klaas-phat-joe-get-highly-inappropriate-tv/
-  http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?aid=55930&dir=2015/november/23
-  https://www.musicinafrica.net/magazine/kast-gets-20-000-fans-botswana-stadium
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