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THE RISE
OF AMAPIANO

Take a deep dive into the vivacious South African genre and get to know the major players of Amapiano.

South Africa has earned its place on the map as home to vibrant music and culture. From Soweto townships, to cities like Cape Town, the country’s diverse culture comes alive in its hybrid music and dance styles, fusing together genres that the world has been deeply captivated by.

Afro-house and Gqom are just two of the enthralling genres which emerged from the country and garnered attention globally over the years. Now, ushering in a new era of musical revolution is the bright musical sounds of Amapiano: along with its Kwaito roots, Amapiano also has vibrant Afro-pop influences. It amalgamates deep house, kwaito, and jazz, along with melodic piano, creating its own innovative sound and cultural dance moves to match.

The literal Zulu translation of Amapiano is “pianos”, but since the South African house music genre originated from Pretoria townships it gained worldwide recognition around the world, fusing together the musical influence of the communities where it was once conceived. It has remained one of the fastest-growing sounds capturing listeners in Africa and around the world. 

The South African Black community’s contribution to the emerging sound is unparalleled, as they highlight the existing challenges in the country’s music industry in response to the exclusion of independent artists. Many have ended up producing their own tracks, some originally tried to get their music out by cracking software then distributing the songs via messaging apps like WhatsApp, social media and, and even good old word of mouth. In fact, the 2019 YouTube documentary SHAYA revealed the impact of DJ Da Kruk in helping create space for mainstreaming the music genre through his show. On The Amapiano Hour he featured artists helping to eventually market their sounds. 

Over the years, Amapiano has grown beyond being an underground sound in the South African townships into a globally recognised genre thanks to digital distribution and marketing tools. Now with a major internet fanbase and an entire dance culture along with it. So take a dive into the world of Amapiano with us and these groundbreaking artists…

MFR Souls

Mfr Souls AKA Tumelo “Maero “Nedondwe and Tumelo “Force” are a duo you need to know. Dubbed the soul stars of Amapiano, their sounds bring on a deeper tune that gives their music more of a sensual sound. With their music videos having had over 1.7 million views on YouTube to date, they are known to be one of the earliest contributors to the genre. Vital towards the growth of Amapiano since its inception as an underground movement, Mfr Souls are a good place to start.

Samthing Soweto

Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba is a songwriter and a singer raised in the Johannesburg township of Soweto. One of the founding members of the Acapella group Soil, this introduced him into the music scene in 2003. Eventually transitioning from Acapella to Afro-pop and Amapiano with his second album Isphithiphithi in 2019, Samthing Soweto has been one of the artists pushing forward the Amapiano genre.

Cassper Nyovest

Refiloe Maele Phoolo, better known as Cassper Nyovest, is a South African record producer, singer, and songwriter who also owns the label Family Tree Records. His sixth studio album Sweet and Short from 2018 brought to life the sounds of Amapiano. The musical polymath is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s most successful artists, having been nominated and awarded several local and international music awards, and with good reason. Press play below.

DBN Gogo

Mandisa Radebe also known as DBN Gogo is a DJ artist well known in South Africa for her renowned contribution to the Amapiano music scene. Having performed at different stages around the world including Afropunk, she’s a must know trailblazer. Mandisa’s experience of living in Durban and Pretoria has led to her being influenced by the diversity of music cultures in South Africa including Gqom and Amapiano, and resulted in some seriously vibrant creations.

Words by Tina Charisma

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