These are the OGs who have levelled up over the years, stamping their names on history and owning their iconic status.
Confident in themselves, men with big energy know how to hold a room – whether they’re actually there physically or not. It’s called being LEGENDARY. This month we’re celebrating the biggest, baddest, most successful hustlers out there in the entertainment industry.
These are the OGs who have levelled up over the years, stamping their names on history and owning their iconic status. (We’ve also included one who is fast-tracking it to the top of future icons.)
Say what you want about this controversial artist, you can’t deny he’s a pivotal part of the South African hip-hop scene. Debuting in a big way with ‘Doc Shebeleza’ in 2014, he went on to “fill up” stadiums à la international artists (since The Dome in 2015, he’s done it four times more).
He’s recently been performing with Nasty C on their African Throne Tour, where he paid tribute to late rapper and SA favourite, AKA, who he says was an inspiration to him, despite their long-running beef. He has gone platinum twice and was the first local hip-hop artist to reach gold status on release day for his album Thuto (2018).
South Africa’s golden boy – and America’s, too! Coming from a di cult background, born to a Xhosa mother and Swiss-German father, Trevor proved that conquering the world is something even the underdog can do.
He didn’t just dominate on our stages and screens, he made waves in international waters as the host of The Daily Show (one of the most sought-after spots on US television). He is lauded by A-list celebs and audiences alike, and is seen as an influential political commentator and great comedian, bagging numerous Primetime Emmy Awards and most recently a Grammy for his comedy album Trevor Noah: I Wish You Would.
This ‘millennium man’ is a certified icon, receiving the California state senator’s Generational Icon Award in 2015. The rapper’s music is known for its morally and socially charged themes, something that resonates with young people today. He’s raw. He’s authentic.
He made “Sit down, be humble” a catchphrase relevant to all situations. Kendrick has 17 Grammies (and 47 nominations) under his belt, and was named second greatest rapper of all time (after Jay-Z) by Billboard last year.
C’mon, we all have a tiny crush on Ryan Reynolds. Despite his snarky characters, the Deadpool star is known as one of the humblest, kindest actors in Hollywood. When he’s not uppercutting thugs, spitting one-liners and tackling high-speed car chases on screen, he’s the biggest family man (a father of four) and downright softy.
He is an advocate for empathy and conflict resolution, hosts seminars to teach young professionals how to grow in their career, and makes regular donations to humanitarian causes with his wife, Blake Lively.
Despite a relatively short acting CV, Australian born Jacob has emerged as a bona-fide star, captivating audiences with his magnetic on-screen presence and versatile performances. Since playing Nate in the award-winning HBO series Euphoria, he’s reached new heights playing Elvis Presley in the film Priscilla.
Beyond his acting prowess, he exudes that distinct confidence described as ‘big dick energy’, a term symbolising self-assuredness and poise. Jacob is a Hollywood standout – and a genuine icon for the modern era.
Even though his Insta-feed is often in black-and-white, Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter has had one colourful career. Stacked in collabs with legends, especially Kanye West, the 24-time Grammy Award winner has held sway over the global hip-hop scene for three decades. He is a ‘philanthropist-king’, giving back through the Shawn Carter Foundation.
He’s one-half of the ultimate showbiz power couple (with wife Beyoncé) and an ace businessman, partnering with multiple companies. He co-owns streaming service Tidal and was the first hip-hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Sold-out shows, a Grammy Award and looks so sharp they could cut diamonds, Black Coffee is the reigning king of Afro-house music. Since breaking out in 2005, he’s released nine albums and played some of the best parties around the globe (including Ibiza). In October 2023, he sold out Madison Square Garden in New York, itself an iconic venue that’s hosted legends like Elvis, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Madonna and Mariah Carey.
Black Coffee made history as the first South African musician to play this hallowed stage. With the SA flag draped over his shoulders, he’s showing us all o with every catchy sound byte.
We only get one shot, and Marshall Mathers III (aka ‘Slim Shady’) took aim and hit the bull’s-eye. As a white artist, he raised eyebrows in the black-dominated hip-hop and rap genre and culture of the 90s – as did his catchy and explicit lyrics.
In recent years, newcomers have (contentiously) been compared to Eminem – but the 51-year-old is no stranger to diss tracks (poor Machine Gun Kelly is still recovering from the burn wounds). Despite all this, Eminem remains one of the greatest rappers and music creators trans-generationally and culturally.
This certified classic hitmaker has done it all. Bonginkosi ‘Zola 7’ Dlamini pretty much paved the way for kwaito music following the success of his debut album Mdlwembe. He also has some impressive acting stints to his name, starring in the acclaimed TV series Yizo Yizo and South Africa’s first Oscar winning film Tsotsi (for which he also composed the soundtrack).
Despite health setbacks and being in a coma last year, he remains focused on growing the local music and entertainment industry, constantly championing up-and-coming kwaito artists.
Words by: Saadiqah Schroeder
Photography: Gallo/Getty Images, Instagram