The Rise of Amapiano and the Afrobeats

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    Brief History of Amapiano

    The origins of the genre are consistently contested with some arguing that it originated from the townships of Johannesburg mainly Katlehong, Vosloorus and Alexandra. In contrast, others argue that it originated in the townships of Pretoria mainly Atteridgeville and Mamelodi (Mitchual, 2020). Regardless of its origins, the genre is attributed to the townships of South Africa, receiving global critical acclaim (Contech, 2021).

    Amapiano is seen to speak to African spirituality due to its “sometimes soulful, sometimes carnal, often epicurean” (Mohlomi, 2019) melodies that make listeners feel that they can connect between the living and spiritual worlds (Billboard, 2021). The melodies borrow from its predecessors of “jazz with its keys, kwaito with its basslines and harmonies, gets its drum patterns and percussion from di Bacardi and its tempo from late '90s South African house” (Mohlomi, 2019). The playbook of kwaito has positioned amapiano to be the music of the youth. Like kwaito, amapiano in some regard, articulates the youth's desires, especially a youth grappling with mass unemployment, lack of opportunities for entrepreneurial and development ventures and trying to address other social ills that they are plagued with (Mazaza, 2020).

    South Africa has witnessed a seismic shift with the emergence of Amapiano, a genre that has not only taken the nation by storm but has also garnered international acclaim. Amapiano represents a fusion of various sounds, creating a genre that is both infectious and uniquely South African.

    1. Origin and Evolution: Amapiano, meaning “the pianos” in Zulu, originated in the townships of South Africa around the early 2010s. It is characterized by its slow-tempo beats, soulful melodies, and the prominent use of piano keys. The genre draws influences from Kwaito, Deep House, and Jazz, creating a dynamic and versatile musical landscape.

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    2. Pioneers of Amapiano: The rise of Amapiano can be attributed to a group of talented producers and DJs who played a pivotal role in shaping the genre. Names like Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa, and Vigro Deep have become synonymous with the Amapiano sound, pushing boundaries and redefining the South African music scene.

    3. Global Influence: What sets Amapiano apart is its ability to transcend borders. The genre's infectious beats and danceable rhythms have found a global audience, with artists from around the world collaborating with Amapiano producers. This global embrace has not only elevated South African music on the international stage but has also created a cultural exchange through the universal language of music.

    4. Amapiano Dance Culture: Amapiano is not just a genre; it's a movement. The music has given rise to a vibrant dance culture, with signature moves and dance challenges spreading across social media platforms. The synergy between the music and dance has created a sense of community and celebration, making Amapiano not just a sound but a lifestyle.

    5. Amapiano in Mainstream Media: Amapiano has infiltrated mainstream media, with its presence felt in commercials, movie soundtracks, and club scenes worldwide. The genre's ability to seamlessly blend traditional African elements with modern production techniques has made it a go-to choice for various media outlets, further solidifying its impact.

    let's highlight some of the top Amapiano songs that have been instrumental in the genre's rise:

    1. Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa ft. , Qwestakufet – “Phoyisa” (2019): This track became an anthem and played a significant role in introducing Amapiano to a broader audience.
    2. Sha Sha ft. Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa – “Tender Love” (2019): Sha Sha's soulful vocals combined with the signature Amapiano beats make this a standout track.
    3. Vigro Deep ft. Buckz – “Nokhuthula” (2020): Known for his intricate beats, Vigro Deep delivers a masterpiece that exemplifies the genre's versatility.
    4. DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small ft. Semi Tee, Miano, Kammu Dee – “Lorch” (2019): “Lorch” became a club and radio favorite, showcasing the infectious energy of Amapiano.
    5. De Mthuda & Njelic – “Shesha” (2019): This track's catchy hook and dynamic production contributed to Amapiano's growing popularity.
    6. Kabza De Small ft. WizKid, Burna Boy, – “Sponono” (2020): A testament to Amapiano's global reach, this collaboration with international artists became a cross-cultural hit.
    7. MFR Souls ft. Major League Djz, Kamo Mphela, Bontle Smith – “Amanikiniki” (2020): “Amanikiniki” became synonymous with the Amapiano dance craze, taking over social media platforms.
    8. Vigro Deep ft. Focalistic – “Blue Monday” (2020): This track combines Amapiano with elements of hip-hop, showcasing the genre's ability to blend diverse influences.
    9. Jobe London and Mphow69 ft. Kamo Manje – “Sukendleleni” (2019): The infectious beats and catchy lyrics of this track contributed to its widespread popularity.
    10. Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa ft. Samthing Soweto – “Akulaleki” (2019): A collaboration that highlights Amapiano's ability to seamlessly integrate soulful vocals with danceable rhythms.
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    As Amapiano continues to evolve and shape the sonic landscape, it stands as a testament to the dynamism and creativity of South African music.


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