• Though much of this landlocked African nation is in the midst of a drought, its music scene and economy are not. Botswana was once one of the poorest countries but eventually invigorated its coffers with gem mining. We mined some aural gems for your listening pleasure.

    Skinflint

    If you’re a metal band, your holy land is Scandinavia. Botswana’s premier lords of the riff, Skinflint, have the Swedish stamp of approval. They’ve toured the icy tundra on the strength of their inner fires. Nyemba, their fourth album, burns with the influence of “the origin of African black magic,” according to their website. True to the description, Nyemba combines Judas Priest guitar work and vocals with ancestral mysticism.

     

    Maxy

    A traditionalist who has seen her fair share of triumph and turmoil, the artist also known as Olebile Sedumedi has enraptured Botswana for more than a decade. She’s celebrated for her brash personality and innocent voice, a ying-yang that well serves her God-glorifying, rhythmic songs. She earned the nickname Queen of Sands for her sizzling performances and regal demeanor.

     

    Matsieng

    Named for the legendary one-legged giant and his people who originally populated Botswana, this group layered syncopated vocals with handclaps, nylon-string guitars and visual storytelling. Their art was rooted in the Setswana language, addressing sexuality, heritage and the holiday season.

     

    Zeus

    “I’m one of your top 10 rappers when I’m poppin’ off,” boasts Zeus on the super-catchy “You Knows Me.” Fusing trap with the multilingual genre motswako, the 29-year-old is quickly becoming a worldwide hip-hop luminary. The BBC recently profiled him for his newest album, African Time, on which he digs deep into why #blacklivesmatter, whether from Africa, America or elsewhere. Lead image courtesy Octave Music.

     

    Culture Spears

    Culture Spears are among the most popular Tswana groups. From heartbreaking ballads (“Selonyana”) to childlike sing-alongs (“Borikiriki”) the heterogeneous collective write about the people, for the people. They’ve played for presidents and advocate for water conservancy. Their latest release, Kokomochane, came out in 2015.

    Thanks to Botswana Youth Magazine for additional information.

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