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9 iconic leaders of the Nu School

We are witness to history being created in front of our very eyes. Today’s creative, fearless and innovative youth is changing the world and taking full advantage of the digital era
Thu, Jun 16, 2022

To be young and alive today is to be an agent of change, charisma and chaos. It is to confront older or existing systems and redefine them or, create new ones altogether. It is looking at a closed door and deciding to renovate the entire spot. Today’s generation is creative, fearless, disruptive and innovative – with their technological fingertips running the show. More than anything, they have an undeniable impact.

For instance, 2021 marked the tragic loss of Khanya ‘The Voice’ Hadebe. The Braamfontein DJ who lost his life alongside Mpura and Killer Kau, left friends and fans in mourning. Their response was to let green balloons loose and paint the city in his memory while stationing a huge portrait of Hadebe in all his glory.

I think about moments like that and I am reminded of what an iconic time we’re in. In putting this list together, I thought about several individuals who have and continue to impact the youth of today. They are visionaries in their respective fields – challenging and transforming the way they navigate society and make their presence one that is hard to ignore.

PHOTO: Lelowhatsgood IG

1. Lelowhatsgood – Music, Nightlife, Culture

Ntsikelelo ‘Lelo’ Meslani popularly known as Lelowhatsgood is an award-winning cultural curator, DJ and writer. He is also the founder of Vogue Nights Jozi. The inclusive ballroom event, known for providing a stage to put queer culture, music, dance and fashion on the map, has taken cities around the country by storm.

Through curating a platform that houses and extends the narratives of queer identities across the country, Lelowhatsgood has been a contributing factor in how we experience nightlife in the country. By providing a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community to groove and forget about the reality outside, he has been nothing short of innovative and disruptive while creating a legacy and dictating what the youth are capable of.

PHOTO: Uncle Waffles Twitter

2. Uncle Waffles – DJ, Artist

The success of Uncle Waffles is one of my favourite things to have seen unfold because we all watched it happen in real time and the scenes have been unbelievable. A viral clip of her DJing and dancing to the December anthem Adiwele quickly catapulted her from a viral moment to the International DJ who has toured all over the African continent and exported her talent all the way over to Europe – and also Drake’s radar.

Not only has her success been a testament of the possibilities for the growing community of female DJs on the continent, but she has also proven everyone who thought she was simply having a moment wrong. Her debut single Tanzania featuring Tony Duardo and Sino Msolo from the EP Red Dragon has over two million plays on Spotify and solidified its spot as the biggest song on the platform from the country back in May.

PHOTO: @Guugu_lethu Twitter

3. Gugulethu Nyatsumba – YouTuber, Podcaster, Content Creator

Sho genge! SIS G.U is the 24-year-old YouTuber and content creator whose channel Uncomfortable Growth has won over the hearts of 74.6K subscribers and counting. Her infectious, real and bubbly personality has allowed her to tap into the world of podcasts as well where After School is After School with SIS G.U is housed on platforms like Apple, Spotify and more.

She speaks candidly and openly to her listeners about a range of topics such as dating, celibacy, friendship and singlehood as she navigates her 20s. Her YouTube channel is also part of the African #YouTubeBlackVoices Creator Class of 2022.

PHOTO: @Simphiwe__M Twitter

4. Colour Me Simphiwe – Makeup Artist

Simphiwe Mbatha caught my attention the same way she catches most of our attention – through a clip of her work that made the rounds across social media platforms. Since that day, her content has had me in a chokehold. The insanely talented Durban-based MUA has since won the African Social Entertainment Award as the best makeup artist.

The self-taught artist has no trouble going viral. With over 200K TikTok followers, Colour Me Simphiwe captivates an audience with imaginative makeup looks inspired by cultural trends and a number of brands.

PHOTO: uncle.vinny Instagram

5. Uncle Vinny – MC, Entertainer

The year is 2021 and Kabelo Vincent Ndlovu aka Uncle Vinny shuts down Braamfontein to celebrate his birthday. His supporters flock to the streets of Braam where videos circulate of them fighting to get into the venue to celebrate Vinny’s 19th birthday. True to Gen-Z form, his career trajectory can be associated with diversity, transformation, hustle and taking full advantage of the digital era. The late Riky Rick’s protege is an extension of everything Riky stood for and loved about youth culture.

With 876K Instagram followers and 157K TikTok followers, Vinny’s style, persona and influence has cemented him as one of the notable entertainers of his generation. He also forms part of MTV Base’s Culture Squad alongside other talent, including the likes of Tshego Koke and Pharoahfi.

PHOTO: shamiso_ Instagram

6. Shamiso Mosaka – VJ, Presenter

Media personality Shamiso Mosaka was popularly known as being the daughter of celebrated radio presenter Azania Mosaka who she bears a striking resemblance to. Shamiso has since made a name for herself in the entertainment industry by starting off on YouTube then transitioning into television.

Today, she is well known as a VJ on MTV Base where she also co-hosted shows like Ghosted AF and Ghosted: Love Gone Missing. Her personality and online presence gained her mass popularity nationally by staying true to herself.

PHOTO: coachella.randy_ Instagram

7. Coachella Randy – Social Media Personality

Oratile Masedi, popularly known as Coachella Randy, is a social media sensation best known for some of the most humorous content on our feeds. The effortless skits, dance moves and reels gather views that reach millions of people (literally), and this is only the beginning.

What started during lockdown has had a glorious effect on fans and supporters on social media where the unexpected success of that content turned out to be a long-term and lasting plan.

As the only child of the late South African actress, MC and entertainer Vinolia V-Mash Mashego, Oratile aims to follow in the same iconic footsteps. The entertainer has a disruptive aura and admits to having a lot of fire inside that the rest of us need to see.

PHOTO: lolakyle_ Instagram

8. Lola Kyle – Fashion

Lonwabo Kabingesi aka Lola Kyle is the founder of KYLE Apparel. The brand founded in 2020 was the visual representation of her personality. Known on the streets for her individuality and unique sense of style, Lola launched KYLE with the idea of ‘comf-luxe’ in mind.

Because she wears many hats and is a dynamic woman, her journey into motherhood also heavily influenced the look and feel of the attire – combining the love for the culture with functionality and comfort.

PHOTO: @MusaKeyss Twitter

9. Musa Keys – Singer, Songwriter, DJ, Producer

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Musa Keys play at a local club he was headlining. Naturally, the venue was filled and we were packed like sardines close to the stage before he came on. A few minutes into his set, the power tripped and the audience sang his Selema lyrics back to him word-for-word. His surprise was due to the fact that this was all taking place in Zambia.

The young South African artist is an international superstar. The man who calls himself the Tsonga Michael Jackson is quickly cementing himself as amapiano royalty. The talented artist recently made it onto the Forbes 30 under 30 list all while embarking on a UK tour playing in Birmingham, London and Dublin – all by the age of 21.

He has been receiving his flowers from many industry giants, making it obvious that the best is yet to come. This Friday (17 June), he will be dropping an unplugged three track EP exclusively on Apple Music spatial audio.


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