From the streets of South Africa to global dance floors: evolution of Amapiano

Emmanuel Kwarteng September 03, 2022
Berita Kiss Amapiano Remix MUSIC VIDEO. Image via YouTube

Amapiano is a pretty recent musical style from South Africa. When the genre first gained prominence in 2017, amapiano was initially renowned for its magical and often minute-long piano solos.

The origin of Amapiano, which in the Zulu language of South Africa means “the pianos,” is frequently in dispute despite the fact that its popularity is undeniable.

It’s a clumsy argument that makes an effort to depoliticize the events leading up to the genre’s inception. Since the genre gained prominence in 2017, there has been some disagreement over the genre’s origin and the person who set it in motion. Origin stories can and frequently do amount to little more than marketing gimmicks, attempts by creators to capitalize on the uncharted territory of a new genre. 

However, there are occasions when a person’s demand to be acknowledged as being the first to start something is a legitimate claim to developing historical events.

Some claim the popular sound has its origins in Kwaito, a kind of music which was popular in the 90s that mixed hip hop with house beats. Oscar Sibonginkosi Mdlongwa, often known as Oskido, is a music producer, record label owner, and a pioneer of the Kwaito movement. He claims that Kwaito evolved after a moment of political revolution that witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release and the end of apartheid.

“The younger generation at that time, we started creating our own music, which we called Kwaito. We used to take house music, slow it down and from there, we reprogrammed the music,” Oskido told CNN.

According to AshMopedi, host of the Amapiano-focused YouTube channel Groove Cartel, the genre’s origins are debatable. He believed it originated in the Gauteng region, the eastern province that contains Johannesburg and Pretoria, but as to who is that one guy that established Amapiano, it’s a tricky issue.

After twenty years Amapiano appears, the very same slowed-down house beats from Kwaito are present here, along with jazz, synths, and rhythm.

Amapiano goes global

Since 2017, the popularity of the genre has spread well beyond South Africa’s boundaries. The genre has taken off all over the world, from events to international singers embracing the sound.

DJ Maphorisa, a prominent personality in the local house scene, is leading this charge. The DJ has a long list of production credentials before deciding on amapiano. He produced Drake’s One Dance and Major Lazer’s Particula, which featured US musician Jidenna, as well as work for international industry giants Wizkid and Mafikizolo. 

Sponono, a single by Kabza De Small (a Maphorisa artist), was released in 2020 and features Wizkid and Burna Boy. It’s not out of the question that Maphorisa utilized his influence on the continent to get the two Nigerian artists who have a sizable worldwide fan base on the song. 

Similar to this, Davido was brought in to remix local amapiano artist and recent headlining act of “True Music In The Round: South Africa,” Focalistic, whose music blurs the lines between amapiano and rap.

Female acts adopt Amapiano sound

Although male artists predominated the Amapiano genre in the beginning, more women are now entering the scene in a variety of roles, including DJing, dancing, singing, and even fashion design.

In the middle of 2020, Zimbabwean-born musician Sha Sha (also known as “the queen of amapiano”) received one of the genre’s largest international nominations when she won a BET Award for the best international performer. 

Kamo Mphela’s sound is different from Sha Sha, which may be described as equal parts amapiano and smoked-out soul (another seminal female figure in the genre). Mphela’s song Nkulunkulu is rooted in the previous history of call-and-response lyrics for the genre. Since its release on March 26, it has amassed over a million views. It includes window-rattling log drums and subtle piano melodies.

Since its premiere, Khuza Gogo by female house DJ DBN Gogo has been a mainstay on regional radio stations and inspired a number of TikTok competitions.

These three performers stand for the female musicians driving the movement to boost the popularity of the genre. Women are rightfully recognized as the foundation of amapiano, in contrast to house music, where female vocalists’ contributions are sometimes minimized or eliminated.

Amapiano’s Future 

Amapiano and gqom have a similar origin story. Similar to forthcoming amapiano producers, gqom’s early releases were characterized by a mix-and-match infrastructure. There is a strong “Do It Yourself” spirit in both genres. Music is created and released through Whatsapp groups, illegal CD sales, and club debuts. 

Producers wishing to distribute their music over the entire nation can use well-known Whatsapp groups like Amapiano World, Amapiano Music, and Amapiano Fan Base as rapid and affordable distribution hubs for their music. Additionally, artists are free to experiment with new ideas whenever they choose without the intrusion of major labels.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 3, 2022


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