Jain – Makeba (2016)
Not only has it become a music sensation that celebrates the rare talent of the anti-apartheid activist and pop culture icon that is Mama Africa – Miriam Makeba – but its accompanying music video was shot on our home ground, too. French star Jain's video features clips of the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Miriam Makeba Street in Newtown and Fox Street in Ferreirasdorp, the Soweto Towers in Orlando West, Ponte in Berea and birds-eye views of the City Centre. Local street art also makes an appearance with works by street artist R1one and renowned illustrator and graphic designer Karabo Poppy. Interestingly, the video for Makeba was shot more than five years ago – but somehow found its way to fame after being used in an Instagram reel.
Nechama Brodie – Hungry Love (2012)
Local author Nechama Brodie (@brodiegal) shot her video for Hungry Love on Nelson Mandela Bridge. Brodie is the author of many titles, from fiction to non-fiction, including the iconic The Joburg Book. We love the fact that the cameraman in Hungry Love is on a scooter riding alongside her, not to mention the cityscapes, and the random Joburgers and graffiti tags that make you recognise the unmistakable Johannesburg City Centre.
The Script – Superheroes (2014)
If Jain and Brodie aren’t on your radar, you might’ve heard of The Script (@thescriptofficial). The popular Irish band travelled to South Africa to shoot an inspirational video for their hit song Superheroes. Shot in a Johannesburg township, the video features the story of a South African father who works hard each day to put food on the table and make his daughter proud. They are amongst a clutch of international musicians who have been captivated by the sights of our city and its people and made Johannesburg the backdrop to some iconic music video scenes.
AKA ft. K.O – Run Jozi (Godly) (2014)
This late South African rapper took advantage of the beautiful locations that Johannesburg has to offer. The music video for Run Jozi (Godly) by AKA features clips of the city skyline, the Bree taxi rank, St Anne's Catholic Church Belgravia in Jeppestown, and more prominently the Nelson Mandela Bridge.
Sons Of Kemet – In The Castle of My Skin (2015)
Currently disbanded (as of 2022), British afrobeat jazz group Sons of Kemet shot the music video for their 2014 single In The Castle of My Skin directed by local filmmaker Lebogang Rasethaba in the township of Tembisa. We're going to claim it because of proximity. The music video features a group of pantsula dancers from the Indigenous Dance Academy in formal suits, while day turns to night.
Kwesta ft. Wale – Spirit (2018)
Kwesta's music video for Spirit in 2018 featuring American rapper and singer, Wale, was shot in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni by Skeem Saam's director Tebogo Malope. The Joburg East township is Kwesta's hometown and captures the essence of the place and the lives of its people. The music video also includes cameo appearances by American singer-songwriter Jidenna as well as Ekurhuleni mayor (at the time) Mzwandile Masina. Again, it's close enough to Joburg to allow us to add it here.
Riky Rick – Nafukwa (2014)
A beloved and dearly departed rapper, Riky Rick became a symbol of black cultural pride in Johannesburg. Most of his music videos feature clips of locations specific to the South African experience showing townships and suburbs. His music video for Nafukwa includes footage from the top of a building in the City Centre.
Cassper Nyovest – Gets Getsa 2.0 (2018)
On a night out, you might have enjoyed the contents of a R350 white bottle of liquor with a swirly symbol in gold called Billiato, which is marketed as a luxury brand of alcohol by founder and acclaimed rapper Casspar Nyovest. Nyovest is known for his collaborations with local musicians including AKA, Riky Rick and Kwesta. The music video for Gets Getsa 2.0 features shots of the city's most popular township, Soweto, so here's our guide for all there is to do and see in Soweto.
Released during the hard lockdown in 2020, Beyoncé's highly anticipated visual album Black is King, for The Lion King, was shot around the world, from Ghana to California. There are some parts of the film shot in KwaZulu-Natal at the Shakaland Zulu Village and Mthambothini in Mpumalanga. In Joburg, there are scenes shot in the middle of Ponte, built in the 1970s to be one of the most desirable addresses in the cosmopolitan central suburb of Berea. By the mid-1990s the address had become one to be feared.
Dlala Nje has been working towards changing the negative perceptions about Ponte and visiting the neighbourhood. They host regular events such as the Ponte City Challenge, a race to summit the tower block’s 900+ stairs, plus tours and sundowners from what is today a well-maintained residential block, despite its previously fearsome reputation. Beyonce's sister, Solange Knowles, also filmed the music video for her 2012 song Losing You in South Africa, however, it was shot in multiple locations in Cape Town's Langa township.
Beyoncé – Black is King (2020)
While not exclusively shot in Joburg, the band members of Coldplay were so taken by the beauty of South Africa, “the land, the cities and especially the sunshine", they decided to shoot the Paradise video here. They stopped in the Karoo for a quick film shoot and added some footage from their Johannesburg and Cape Town shows.
Coldplay – Paradise (2011)
Shot in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, Janet Jackson’s Got til it’s Gone takes the viewer back to apartheid South Africa. A Grammy Award-winning music video featuring two beautiful cities? We all sit under the same South African sun. Take a look below.