South Africa is known worldwide for its biodiversity and its multiplicity of cultures and languages. In music, things are no different. The originality and variety of country music has been contagious around the world over the past few decades. Currently, a music genre that is hugely successful in the African nation is becoming a global trend: Amapiano.
Named Amapiano, the kind of dance the music has both feet rooted in house music. In recent years, it has quickly spread by being shared via messaging apps such as Whatsapp, and has become popular on music streaming apps and social media platforms.
In 2021, Spotify’s flagship playlist Amapiano saw an increase in streaming from 622% in South Africa alone, while the UK and the US ranked second and third respectively in terms of streams of the same playlist, CNN reported.
“We noticed that a lot of our young people at the end of 2019 were starting to use Amapiano music to create their food videos, their dance videos, their fashion videos, memes. And we really saw people embracing the genre and wanting to engage in it,” said Yuvir Pillay, music operations supervisor at TikTok South Africa. CNN.
Influenced by his predecessors in South African house music styles, Amapiano inherits the bass lines and harmony of Kwaito, the drums and percussion of Bacardi, and lives up to his name, considering that the piano is the instrument predominant.
“Piano for the hip”, as he is nicknamed, involves more than his body, his keyboards and his jazzy synths. It brings the tone of deep house, making it extremely enveloping and full of soul; this is one of its most original features.
Although the first sounds appeared in the early 2010s, this new genre of South African dance music only started to have a massive presence on all digital platforms in 2020. Today is the movement fastest growing electronic music company on the African continent.
Amapiano has fallen into mainstream graces with songs driven by their lyrical content and produced by pianists and hip-hop DJs. Artists like Kabza De Petit, Vigro Deepand Lady Of turned popular songs into big hits, creating a recurring debate about the origins and positioning of the genre, highlighting the dynamism of the genre.
Discussions of Amapiano have become controversial as it is accused of being a purely commercial movement that quickly spread across social media with videos of young people dancing. Despite rising feelings of love and hate, Amapiano continues to grow amid this great and ancient debate.
Amapiano’s influence extends beyond music. The genre combines lifestyle, fashion, and dances with a lot of sensuality. It offers a warm, continuous and timeless rhythm, sharing the sense of freedom of a society that got rid of the racist policies of apartheid less than 30 years ago.
Performed at parties and radio stations across South Africa and beyond, Amapiano also spotlights great artists such as Black Coffee, Kid Fonque and Zakes Bantwiki, who are championing the freedom of expression held by the purely South African style, claiming respect, mainly to raise the country’s flag around the world in the form of a unique and authentic movement.
Related: Afrobeat Vs. Afrobeats: The Differences Between These African-Inspired Musical Sounds