Riyadh Roberts

South African hip-hop royalty Tumi Molekane recently tweeted: “Follow the next biggest artist to come from this continent @YoungstaCpt”. He had just been blown away by the emotional lyrics and surging rap of 20-year-old Riyadh Roberts, aka “Youngsta”.

Capetonian Roberts shot to fame outside his hometown late in 2011, when he took the nationwide King of Street Rap title in Jo’burg and, just weeks later, opened for US act Lil Wayne at the Bellville Velodrome.

Roberts also cut his first album, GuyFox, last year, and launched his own line of hoodies and caps that match what he calls his “wild and funny style”.

Despite the sudden arrival of fame, his work keeps him close to his roots. “The best thing to rap about is your own life,” explains Roberts. “I sing about the hardship of growing up in South Africa.” Or, like his lyrics say, “I rap with an accent but my life is localised”.

— Ian Macleod