A Nation In Mourning: South Africa’s A-List Rapper Riky Rick Dies

Published 1 year ago
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(Photo by Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape)

“I’ll return a stronger man. This land is still my home.”

– final tweet from Riky Rick

Award-winning rapper, Rikhado Makhado, known professionally as Riky Rick, passed away in the early hours of Wednesday. The family released a statement confirming the untimely death of the South African songwriter, producer, fashion designer and businessman.

How do you try to objectively encapsulate the life of someone who made a big mark in music in a few sentences? That has been the biggest question on everyone’s mind who has written “Rest in Peace Riky Rick” over the last few hours remembering one of South Africa’s greatest musical sensations who at the age of 34 passed away early morning on Wednesday, February 23.


Rikhado Makhado was born in the lively township of KwaMashu in South Africa’sKwaZulu-Natal province. Though from a small town, Makhado had big dreams of breaking musical barriers both on stage and off it. The rapper’s climb to the top began in a studio session with Bongani Fassie, the son of the legendary Brenda Fassie.

— MR MAKHADO (@rikyrickworld) November 3, 2021

Shortly thereafter, Makhado released his single Nafukwa, in 2014, which placed him on the musical map as ‘The Riky Rick’. Having made a name for himself as an artist through his platinum certified 2015 album Family Values, Makhado became instrumental in influencing the South African Hip Hop culture behind the scenes as well as in front of it.

According to Apple Music: “With honest expressions of familial love and sleek, high-end production, Riky Rick dedicates himself to authentic South African rap. He joyously waxes lyrical over kwaito house beats on “Murdah”, shifts into full swagger mode over the thundering clapback of “Boss Zonke”, and shines bright amidst a cipher full of peers on “Amantombanze (Remix)”. Whether shouting boasts or paying tribute to American rapper Tupac Shakur over the scintillating keyboards of “Makaveli”, Riky Rick delivers nothing less than full-throttle passion.”


Being part of album songs alongside some of South Africa’s biggest names in music: Major League DJz (twin brothers Bandile and Banele Mbere), Thabo Ngubane – also known as Mas Musiq, Charmaine Shamiso Mapimbiro (Shasha) – and the Scorpion Kings DJ Maphorisa (Themba Sonnyboy Sekowe ) & Kabza De Small (Kabelo Motha Mahlangu), his greatest hits include Amantombazane, Boss Zonke, and Sidlukotini.

He was also known to the country as Boss Zonke, Master Makhado, Minister of Energy, and King Kotini.

Behind the scenes, Makhado was also in the business world when in 2018, he joined forces with Sony and founded his record label Cotton Club Records. On top of that success, in 2019, Makhado established the musical festival, Cotton “Fest” Festival, celebrating and merging both well-known and upcoming South African talent, which was due to make a comeback in 2022 after a break due to the pandemic.

If breaking barriers in music was not enough, the award-winning artist also made his mark in fashion. In 2018, during a TV appearance on Live Amp, the artist fearlessly wore a skirt despite being “snubbed” on social media.


A few days before his passing, Makhado also announced his partnership with African Bank Limited, a retail bank in South Africa.

“Our story of audacity began years before we opened our doors in 1975. This year, we return to this audacious story to reposition our brand. We are happy to announce that Riky Rick is the official partner in retelling this story,” the company had said in a statement on Twitter.

As a firm believer in business, music and fashion, Makhado was also a firm believer in youth empowerment.

“Please believe in young people. Give them as many opportunities as they need to prove themselves. At any cost,” he tweeted.


The family man is survived by his wife, Bianca Naidoo, and two children.

South Africa took to social media after the news of his passing broke, sharing their shock and sadness of the untimely passing of the young musical legend.

South African entertainment, hospitality and media house Steyn Entertainment, known for their event Rocking The Daisies, tweeted, “We at Steyn Entertainment are deeply saddened by the passing of a true pioneer of the South African hip-hop industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family through these difficult times.


“Deepest condolences to all family, friends and fans of @rikyrickworld What a massive loss to our country. Rest in peace king,” South African rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer and talk show host, Karen Zoid said.

— Thembisa Liyema Nxumalo (Nèe Mdoda) (@tembisa) February 23, 2022

In their statement, the family remember him for “his love for family, friends and community… Ricky’s nurturing and developing of young musical talent is well documented and will forever be remembered”