Pioneer Unit Records is a Cape Town-based independent record label. Pioneer Unit's sound is characterised by the fusion of classic East Coast Hip Hop, Detroit Techno, Dancehall, Dub, Grime, Electro and the sounds of Africa.
Pioneer Unit is also part of the Spaza movement. Spaza is a genre of Hip Hop where lyrics are performed in a variety of the many languages indigenous to South Africa (such as isiXhosa, isiZulu, seSotho and Afrikaans). The genre is named after the informal 'Spaza' shops that are found in South Africa's townships where bits and pieces of everything are sold.
Unofficially founded by Damian Stephens AKA Dplanet in 2005 for the release of Nomadsland by Trusenz, Pioneer Unit became a registered company in 2007. The first official release, Planetary Assault, came out on 7 July 2007. Planetary Assault was co-published by Cape Town independent record label, African Dope, who are well known for their work with The Real Estate Agents, The Constructus Corporation, DJ Sibot, Felix Laband and Krushed and Sorted. Planetary Assault was notable for the fact that it featured 19 different artists rapping in 6 different languages.
In early 2007, Pioneer Unit artists Ben Sharpa and KONFAB caught the attention of BBC Radio 1's Mary Anne Hobbs who described them as "two of the most inspired and agile lyricists in the world today." Ben Sharpa was invited to perform at the BBC Introduces stage at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts (Glastonbury) in June 2007.