Apple Music announces Mnqobi Yazo as the Up Next artist in South Africa

Apple Music today announced the latest artist to be featured in its new Up Next artist development program in South Africa, is Afro-pop singer-songwriter Mnqobi Yazo.

“Thank you, Apple Music, for choosing me as your Up Next Local Artist in South Africa,” he tells Apple Music. “It really means a lot; more people are going to be healed through the music offering of UBHOKO.”

Born in the village of KwaMaphumulo and raised in the Durban township of Umlazi, Mnqobi Yazo’s distinct brand of Afropop is rooted in traditional South African music genres maskandi and isicathamiya. After taking to rapping when he was in primary school, Yazo built his name as an MC in the underground circuit before switching to singing during college in the late 2000s, which coincided with his decision to launch his professional recording career.

In the same vein as like-minded Afropop torchbearers Sjava, Blaq Diamond and Aubrey Qwana, Yazo’s isicathamiya-style drawl and maskandi falsetto position him as a unique voice that has distinct appeal. His independently released viral debut, Iscephu (2018), and follow-up Impi (2020) quickly established him as a musical force to be reckoned with, and after an almost four year hiatus he has returned with his third album UBHOKO (2024), available to stream on Apple Music.

Meaning “War Stick” in Nguni, the album’s title is a metaphor for the battles faced in life and is a powerful musical journey, deeply rooted in spirituality and cultural significance. Over 19 tracks, Yazo skillfully addresses critical social issues like mental health and fostering a positive mindset, and features handpicked collaborations with notable artists Yallunder, Njilour, Ndabaz, Igcokama Elisha, and Olefied Khetha.

As the newest Up Next artist to be spotlighted in South Africa, Mnqobi Yazo will be featured across Apple Music’s Up Next playlist The curated Up Next playlist features a dynamic class of new and emerging artists, thoughtfully hand-picked by Apple Music editors from around the world.The playlist is genre agnostic and represents a line-up of artists our global editors are passionate about and eager to expose to a larger audience.

The vast global Up Next roster of past talent includes Grammy-nominated and critically lauded talent like 6lack, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Greta Van Fleet, Khalid, Amy Shark, Billie Eilish, Sabrina Claudio, Sigrid, Mr Eazi, Stefflon Don, Bad Bunny, Juice WLRD, Bazzi, Jax Jones, NCT 127, Summer Walker, Tierra Whack, Dean Lewis, Pink Sweat$, Koffee, Megan Thee Stallion, Burna Boy, Clairo, Lunay, Jessie Reyez, Orville Peck, Victoria Monét, Ingrid Andress, Conan Gray, Don Toliver, Rema, BENEE, Holly Humberstone, Natanael Cano, Givēon, beabadoobee, Arlo Parks, Tate McRae, Fousheé and Tems.

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