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Exploring the roots of the popular Amapiano genre

How Amapiano Became the Soundtrack of South Africa

With its distinct log drum-driven basslines, the South African genre blends kwaito, deep house, jazz, and lounge music. It’s easy to recognize its roots in these genres with soulful melodies, expansive basslines, synth and airy pads.

Exploring the roots of the popular Amapiano genre

Most artists praise Amapiano for its relevance and ability to connect people together. In the Inside Africa CNN documentary about Amapiano, Ash Mopedi says that “it represents the beat of Africa because everybody gets it”. Artists weave stories that are relatable and common in South African communities into the lyrics and instrumentals.

On any given day, Amapiano can be heard blasting from car windows, in the streets of a Township in Johannesburg and at night clubs over the weekend. The speaker-rattling beats have become South Africa’s favourite, and people often listen to them out loud. While you may not be the ‘groove’ type of person, you can still enjoy Amapiano’s basslines and rhythms in the comfort of your home using the Sony sound bar from the Makro Catalogue, where you can get this and other products like it, now at a special discount. The Sony soundbar features Sound Field Optimization, which means it will produce sound based on the room’s acoustics. You’ll be able to hear and feel your favourite AmaPiano song.

The exact origins of Amapiano are vague, but one thing that people know for sure is that it started in the streets.

Most associate the genre’s roots in Pretoria and Johannesburg townships from 2014 to 2016. Amapiano started to gain momentum in 2019 and 2020 during the lockdown. According to Amapiano DJ DBN Gogo, “When the world went into lockdown, no genre worked as hard as Amapiano”.

During the lockdown, artists spent most of their time creating music and producing. It was then distributed online and spread by DJ DA Kruk, who created the Amapiano Hour on YFM. In other spaces like Groove Cartel – a platform was designed to ‘bring back groove’. They would play house music and different genres to entertain people watching in their homes since clubs and social gatherings were prohibited.

Amapiano also blew up on Tiktok. Almost daily, South African youth would dance challenges with #Amapiano. Some used the music for other content like food videos: fashion videos, and memes. In 2021, this hashtag’s videos had more than 1.6 billion views globally. People worldwide would participate in the dance challenges and use Amapiano as background music for their videos.

Some of the greatest Yanos hits and artists.

We can only speak about the most significant hits by mentioning the pioneers. Artists like JazziDisciples, Kabza De Small and Virgo Deep were at the forefront of Amapiano and continue to move with it today.

Female Djs and artists like DBN Gogo, Shasha, and Kamo Mphela rode the wave and became Amapiano queens. Despite their struggles in the industry as women, they paved the way for female artists to be recognized for their talent.

Although this list is a fraction of the hits that have come out of the AmaPiano genre, some of the most popular tracks over the years include:

  1. Akulaleki by Samthing Soweto feat. Sha Sha, DJ Maphorias & Kabza De Small
  2. Kokota Piano by Kaygee Daking x Bizizi 
  3. Abo Mvelo Daliwonga feat. Mellow & Sleazy and M.J 
  4.  ‘Manca’ by Felo Le Tee x Toss 
  5. Tanzania by Uncle Waffles and Tony Duardo feat. Sino Msolo & Boibizza 
  6. Healer Ntliziyo Yam by Gaba Cannal & Goerge Lesley feat. Russell Zuma
  7. Khusela Kabza De Smal feat. Msaki 
  8. Banyane Ke Bafana by Pabi Cooper, Focalistic, Ch’cco feat. LuuDaDeekay and Nobantu Vilikazi 
  9. Umlando by 9umba, TOSS & Mdoovar feat. Sir Trill, Sino Msolo, Lady Du, Young Stunna & Slade
  10. Labantwana Ama Uber by Semi Tee feat. Miano, Kammu Dee

You can find more hits by looking for Amapiano playlists on Spotify

What does the future hold for Amapiano? 

SHAYA! Amapiano Documentary (FULL)

Amapiano has become a global genre. This is due to its simplicity and familiarity. 

Amapiano songs are known for being easy to dance to and allowing people to express themselves freely. World record holder and Dancer Bontle Modiselle feels that Amapiano has the potential to become part of different cultures like Scottish traditional dance. If its popularity on social media is anything to go by – we could have culturally diverse Amapiano renditions coming out in the next few years. 

The most important thing is for the genre’s roots to be remembered. It’s known as the genre for South African youth. It will continue to be enjoyed for years, whether at Groove in a club in the township or clubs internationally and on stages at Coachella and other global music festivals. 

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