Amapiano originated from South Africa’s Black townships in the country’s Gauteng province roughly nine years ago, the amapiano music genre borrows from the musical ancestry of the communities in which it originated from. The name “Amapiano” is a combination of the Zulu language’s plural article, “ama” with the noun for a western musical instrument “piano”.
Amapiano’s underlying foundations are in Kwaito, music created during the ’90s as South Africa transitioned into a democracy. Afro, jazz and folk can also be recognized immediately as threads in the sound. What has emerged is a combination of these influences with the creative, tech-savvy individual has blessed us with one of the best sound we have heard in a while. Constantly evolving, Amapiano sometimes sounds like dance music with jazz sensibilities; it is often soulful with innovative electronic accents, but always fresh and pioneering.
Amapiano which can be translated as pianos in Zulu is a style of music that emerged from South Africa in 2012. Amapiano is a hybrid of deep house, jazz and lounge music with a touch of heavy piano which can be characterize by synths (An electronic instrument that creates its sounds with electronics and has a keyboard), airy pads and wide striking or pounding bass lines. It is characterize by high-pitched piano melodies, Kwaito bass lines, low tempo 90s South African house rhythms and percussions from another local subgenre of house known as Bacardi.
The genre for Amapiano is also a combination of Kwaito, Gqom, and piano jazz beats, soft house music beats can also be noticed in the background. Amapiano genre of music became really popular during the COVID-19 global quarantine season. People found solace in this music and the music style was so ground breaking that you will find it difficult to not dance when listening to it, and before Mzansi knew it, Amapiano tracks were trending on social media. Although the genre gained popularity in Gauteng, there’s a lot of argument concerning its origins, with various accounts of the musical styles in the Johannesburg townships – Soweto, Alexandra, Vosloorus and Katlehong. Because of the genre’s stricken similarities with Bacardi, people assert the genre began in Pretoria and has been an ongoing debate about the origin of Amapiano. With various accounts and views as to who formed the popular genre make it impossible to accurately pinpoint its origins.
In 2020 especially during the pandemic, the genre experienced massive increase in popularity across the African continent with noted increases in digital streams and chart successes in countries far from its South African origin.
There is no denying that even with the pandemic and lockdown so many artist gave us very memorable songs, it also gave Amapiano producers and DJs enough time to recreate the amapiano genre. The closing of venues in the pandemic meant that TV stations like MTV Base, Channel O, and other popular channels took notice of the movement and broadcast Amapiano sets, while Amapiano DJ sets also proliferated on Youtube.
Amapiano has entertained so many curious ears for almost a decade now, with the genre’s rapid growth and evolution being championed by hundreds of hopeful producers who dig into new sounds with spades of experimentation. The consequence has been a long stream of unconventional yet massive hits. Amapiano hitmakers include DJ Lady Du, De Mthuda, DBN Gogo and Sir Trill. The constant supply and growing need of listeners has manifested the sound into the biggest music genre in South Africa in terms of consumption. This year’s Amapiano scene can easily be described as the year of collaboration with its overwhelming number of collaborated hits from current hit making producers like JazziQ, De Mthuda and DBN Gogo whose catalogs are dominating the local airwaves. In the mean time, Amapiano heavyweights such as DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small have made several contributions to a number of chart-toppers this year working with DJ Stokie, Sir Trill and Josiah De Disciple, among other artists. Amapiano has also caught the eyes of prominent musicians outside of South Africa such as Davido, Rema, Adekunle gold, Niniola and as well as US superstars like Drake who has also release his take on Amapiano this year. Some major Amapiano artist include
Kabza De Small
Sha Sha (singer)
Here is a list of Amapiano songs that are doing great on YouTube
As we all know you tube is a huge platform for any performing art especially as an artist as it helps the audience be able to connect more with their idol. Here is a list of Amapiano songs that are doing relatively well on you tube
Gcina Impilo Yami – DJ Cleo ft. Bucy Radebe: This chart topper tops our list with a massive collection of 7.9 million views. This track is definitely apparitional with its catchy lyrics and cheeky tune. After listening to this track, your mind will be saying, “Oh my!” and it definitely puts you in the right mood. There are really no right words to describe Gcina Impilo Yami. You feel it and let it stay in your heart.
Ke Star – Focalistic & Davido: This track is definitely one of my most favourite song of 2021 so far, with its electric sound displaying the Amapiano sound perfectly, Focalistic and our very own Davido delivered the song effortlessly. The music video has amassed a massive collection of 7.1 million views, and I really loved what he did with music video from the eccentric dancing to the colorful background. Ke Star is unarguably one of the best songs Focalistic has done. The duo is gladly watching South Africans do their thing. Mzansi never lets good work go unrewarded.
Nkulunkulu – Kamo Mphela: Upon its release Nkulunkulu has amassed a massive collection of 6.2 million views. Kamo Mphela has done great work on Nkulunkulu as the track is unarguable one of the best Amapiano track of 2021 so far. You will find yourself singing this new Amapiano song randomly and wonder why it has stuck on your mind for hours or months with its catchy tune, circular and elliptical lyrics.
Mapara A Jazz – John Vuli Gate ft Ntosh Gazi & Colano: It was really nice seeing how Ntosh Gazi was grateful to his fans for giving the song a million views three months ago. As of today, the song has assembled over 3.2 million views on you tube.
Siyathandana – Cassper Nyovest ft. Abidoza& Boohle: Cassper Nyovest is unarguable on of South African biggest artist, so it’s really nice seeing the rapper embracing using the Amapiano sound. Siyathandana has gotten a collection of 3.1 million views on you tube. The song begins with a sweet soprano voice. It goes without question that this collaboration is one of the best AmaPiano tracks as it features some of the most talented icons in the genre.
Hallelu – Masterkraft ft Zlatan & Bella Shmurda: Bringing in Zlatan and Bella Shmurda who are major key element on street anthems in the Nigerian music industry, it’s no wonder the song has amassed 2.9 million views since its release. As everything turns into gold when Nigerian artists work with South African singers on Amapiano songs, the song became an instant hit. Masterkraft, Zlatan and Bella Shmurda have proven to be the dynamic trio in Amapiano music.
Getting Late – Tyla ft. Kooldrink: The 19-year-old South African singer/songwriter released her first single in January, and I would say this track is a massive hit has it has amassed about 6.9 million views on you tube. Tyla has also said to be the Ariana Grande of the continent, and she deserves all the love in the world.
La Melza – DJ Melzi feat. Mkeyz & Mphow69: In less than five months, the video of this major hit has gathered more than 1.4 million views on you tube. This performance is commendable considering that Mzansi’s music industry is really very competitive.
Shayi Mpempe – Mavuthela ft Swizz Panache & Ribby: The trio has showcased creativity in the tracks that it has released, demonstrating the diversity in this style of music, and this diversity has gotten them about 1.3 million views on you tube. Most Shayi Mpempe fans do not joke with petty critics.
Bathandwa – MFR Souls ft Bassie: Fans do not seem to have enough of this song most especially me. Bathandwa has proven how the Mzansi accent sounds perfect when turned into music which has gotten him about 1.1 million views on you tube.
Ringo – DJ Jawz ft Bob Mabena, Zuma, Reece Madlisa & Busta 929: 1.06 million Ringo is the kind of jam that might make you wish you could get married to either of the artists for creating such a beautiful masterpiece. For audiences doubting me you have to listene to it to know how entertaining and inspirational it is.
Makazi – Busiswa ft. Mr JazziQ: This jam has a slightly slow but refreshing beat which you could definitely groove to. Busiswa, Mr JazziQ, and other voices sound like they are casually reciting a poem in the chorus, sounding like modern day shake sphere. Makazi should not be found missing in your playlist.
Umjolo – Bob Mabena & Qwesta Kufet: Have you ever listened to a song and felt so happy because of the mood that the hit sets? Listen to Umjolo any time you are feeling low. Additionally, move your furniture and dance your sorrows away, I even use it for my exercise routine (Zumba). After its release the song has acquired over 710k views on you tube.
Amaneighbour – Killer Kau & Mr JazziQ: The combination of the beats and Killer Kau and Mr JazziQ’s voices are a perfect match. A song is not good enough if it does not make you smile or cry. Amaneighbour sets the mood for a chilled and happy atmosphere, as a result it has amassed over 596k views on you tube.
Funu – Scorpion Kings ft. Tresor: East Africa says, “hongera jameni.” It means congratulations in English. This song is basically uniting Black people through music. This song is a major example of black power and Africans coming together for a common front which is music. It has a combination of East African and South African artist coming together to give us another hit song which has gained over 553k view on you tube since its release.
Jamani – Sho Madjozi: You are missing many great hits if you do not have any of Sho Madjozi’s Amapiano hits. The young lady released Jamani in May, and so far, everything is running smoothly. East Africa is now her second home. The song has gained over 549k views since its release.
Ina Iyeza – Zain SA: It is very impossible for anybody to hate this song. The song’s lyrics bring out the beauty of using the native language to pass a great message to the people. Moreover, Ina Iyeza’s beats are therapeutic and soothing. It has gained over 577k views on you tube since its release.
Careless Whisper – Major League DJz ft. Jay Sax & Abidoza: Have you ever watched a music video that has no lyrics but somehow takes your breath away? You do not need to listen to lyrics to feel the music. The beats and the pictures tell the story loud and clear and as a result of its beautiful vidoe and electric lyrics it has gained over 465k views since its release on you tube.
Location, Sila – Sje Konka, Freddy K & Robot Boii Sje Konka: Freddy K, and Robot Boii must have spent many hours on this track. Location, Sila makes you feel the world suddenly stopped and become better than it was minutes before you tuned in. The music video has gained over 177k views since it was released.
Bulungule – Dj Franck Mato & Kancy Deore: This track is sang completely in Swahili which gives the track a native Amapiano type of feel. It is one of the jams that will have you nodding along to its beats because of how addictive they are. It has amassed a total of 143k views since its release on you tube.
The 20 best Amapiano songs of 2021 so far
With the rise of the music genre in 2020 and also ending off the year on a high note, Amapiano has continued to dominate music charts and streaming sites over the past 8 months. Whether it is streaming services, social media, radio, television and other platforms, there’s simply no escaping the genre.
Amapiano producers and artists are always at work, dropping hits, and are currently the most booked in South Africa and probably the whole continent despite the pandemic and its regulations on public events. Streaming cites and charts have also shown that Amapiano is one of the most streamed genres at the moment. Majority of the 10 most streamed South African songs of 2021 on Spotify were Amapiano. There has also been a major growth in global interest on the genre with more artists and producers, outside the genre and South Africa, also dabbling and also incorporating the elements of the sound into their music. Amapiano artists and deejays are getting gigs across the continent. Here is a list of the 20 best Amapiano songs so far for the year 2021.
Woza- Mr JazziQ x Kabza De Small x Lady Du (featuring Boohle)
Mr JazziQ, who Spotify South Africa recently crowned as the most streamed South African artist by Gen Z audiences, really had a crazy 2020 and is continuing his run steadily with his crown. For his first release of 2021 Woza, he had enlisted really strong features like “Piano King” Kabza De Small, Lady Du and Boohle for the smash hit song “Woza”. The track served as the lead single to JazziQ’s latest album “Party with the English” which has been doing really well on streaming charts since its release. A clip was released showing three guys dancing to the track outside of the White House in Washington DC, and the video became an internet sensation when it went viral, which in turn resulted in a dance challenge.
Stoko- Soa Mattrix Emsotra (featuring Sir Trill)
Soa Mattrix, alongside powerful features like Soulful G and Shaun 101, is responsible for one of last year’s top performing Amapiano songs “Uthando”. In late February, the producer finally released his album Sounds of Africa, which produced really good hits like “Stoko”, “Emsotra” and “Buyisa”. All three hits feature Sir Trill, who has been unstoppable since the start of 2021 and also one of the most sorted out Amapiano artist since the start of this year and choosing one song from the album would be a really difficult task. But Stoko was placed at number 2 because it has been the most successful of all three songs. “Stoko”, describes the inescapable fun that goes down in Soweto, which is affectionately referred to as Msotra.
Isingisi- Semi Tee & Mdu aka TRP (featuring Sir Trill)
Semi Tee, of “Labantwana Ama’Uber” fame, teamed up with burgeoning producer Mdu aka TRP for a collaborative project titled Tales of The 2 Peers which i would say personally has to be one of my most favorite Amapiano project. The album has a really great replay value and is filled with sleepers, but “Isingisi” is a definite standout and has been the most successful song off the album. Sir Trill’s enthralling vocals and impudent lyrics match the vague instrumental. “Le ngoma iGhost, uyang’thola,” he sings, bragging about the now gold-selling song; “ghost” is KZN slang to describe something or someone that’s dope.
Khuza Gogo- DBN Gogo x Blaqnick x MasterBlaq (featuring Mpura, Ama Avenger and M.J)
Off the strength and massive success of their previous singles “French Kiss” and “Whistling Man” which were charts toppers, DBN Gogo and production duo Blaqnick & MasterBlaq teamed up for “Khuza Gogo” which is a major banger. If anything, this song speaks to the genre’s collaborative nature. DBN Gogo and Blaqnick & MasterBlaq are the producers while Mpura, Ama Avenger and M.J handle the vocals for this massive song. The song reportedly went platinum, within the first three months of its release. Spotify South Africa recently revealed that “Khuza Gogo” is the most streamed song by Gen Z audiences.
LiyoShona- Kwiish SA (featuring Malumnator, Njelic & De Mthuda)
Kwiish SA’s breakout song “Iskhathi (Gong Gong)” was crucial in the broader mainstream acceptance of Amapiano in early 2019, he was also said to be one the godfather of Amapiano genre, so much that some people casually referred to the sound as “gong gong”. After spending 2020 relatively quiet with no major hits, this year the producer made a huge and major comeback with “LiyoShona”. He also featured other hit makers in Malumnator, Njelic and De Mthuda; it comes as no surprise that the song is a major banger. Voicing their pain caused by an unfaithful lover, Malumnator and Njelic exchange heartfelt vocals over the mellow production by Kwiish and De Mthuda.
Ekseni- Busta 929 (featuring Boohle and Zuma)
Busta 929 released “Ekseni” as a follow-up to the platinum-selling smash hit “Umsebenzi Wethu”. With major features by talented vocalists like Boohle and Zuma, “Ekseni” sees Busta step out as a lead solo act for the first time, after releasing a collaborative EP and co-producing a lot of hit songs with Mr JazziQ last year. While there may be tension between Busta and Zuma currently, they’ve proven to be a formidable force every time they’ve linked up.
Catalia- Junior De Rocka & Lady Du (featuring Mr JazziQ, Mellow & Sleazy)
Vocalist Lady Du has been one of the major hit makers for Amapiano genre have been riding on a high horse after getting recognition with her contribution on Mr JazziQ’s “Superstar”, last August. Since then she has become a regular feature on some of the biggest Amapiano hits. She closed off 2020 with the massive hit DBN Gogo-assisted “Dakiwe” and opened this year with “Catalia” which also became a massive hit. On “Catalia,” Lady Du, who also engaged in August, threatens to slap any woman that touches her man and also gave us the juicy details that her life is going accordingly and things are being extremely nice in her favour.
Killer Kau has come a long way from being a viral sensation to actually becoming a certified hit maker. The ever talented “Kataliya” artist kicked off the year with a new single titled “Amaneighbour”. The soaring bassline of the song, produced by ThackzinDJ and Mr JazziQ, is complemented and equipped by the addictive chants laced by Killer Kau, Reece Madlisa and Zuma. The song is a massive street anthem and gets Amapiano lovers dancing at groove.
John Wick- De Mthuda (featuring Sir Trill & Da Muziqal Chef)
I was first surprised by the choice of song name, but I remembered another Amapiano song titled john cena so I decided to give the song a trial and I must say I was definitely blown away. De Mthuda’s “Shesha Geza” was the Amapiano soundtrack for many lovers of Amapiano genre in 2019. From Shesha Geza to “Bade”, “Ebumnandini”, “Dakwa Yini” and to “uMsholozi”, Mthuda continues to showcase his unwavering talent in producing hit making songs. On “John Wick”, Sir Trill likens De Mthuda to the character of John Wick played by Keanu Reeves which is probably one of the greatest movies of all time. If the movie’s trilogy has shown us anything, John Wick is undefeated and whoever comes at him won’t win, I mean who goes after a cartel because of a dog.
Abekho Ready – Maplankeng Reshuffle- De Mthuda (featuring Sir Trill & Da Muziqal Chef)
We have another major hit by De-Mthuda on this list, which goes to show how much of a hit maker he is. De Mthuda and Ntokzin initially released “Maplankeng” as a single in October and included it in their joint album Ace of Spades released in December. In January this year, the prolific producer decided to reshuffle his spades and brought in Sir Trill to add vocals on the beat. Sir Trill, as he continues to show, really understood the assignment and delivered perfectly as usual.
Busta’s impact since his entry into the game has really been undisputed. His debut solo 6-track EP Undisputed is filled with bangers that I honestly could not stop dancing to and the energetic “Paradise” and one of my personal favorite in the EP is one of them. The song makes reference to Hennessy Paradis, similar to how his regular collaborators Zuma, Reece Madlisa, Mpura and Riky Rick did on his and Mr JazziQ’s hit song “VSOP”.
GUPTA- Focalistic x Mr JazziQ (featuring Lady Du & Mellow and Sleazy)
Focalistic is without argument my all time favorite Amapiano artist of all time. Amapiano heavy hitters Focalistic and Mr JazziQ put out their much-teased collaborative single “GUPTA”, which features vocalist Lady Du and production duo Mellow and Sleazy and has become without a doubt a massive hit. The song came after the release of Mr JazziQ’s album Party with the English and the success of Focalistic’s “Ke Star Remix” (absolute banger which I advice you listen to). The two reportedly have an upcoming EP together and Focalistic has also revealed that he has another EP with Nigerian superstar Davido and if it is going to be anything like the Ke Star remix then I can’t wait, as well as unreleased music with Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz and Ghana’s Stonebwoy.
Nkulunkulu- Kamo Mphela “
In late March, Kamo Mphela released the lead single and title track of her independently released EP Nkulunkulu whose title translates to “God”, is essentially a very fulfilling prayer for wealth, happiness and a life full of blessings and prosperity. The tracks’ amazing striking visuals, which contain a lot of choreographed dancing that I would love to learn someday, has inspired a number of Tik Tok videos and, to date, has amassed over 5 million views on YouTube. Since the beginning of the year, Kamo has performed in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria. She also has been featured on the remix of Nigerian rapper Falz’s amapiano cut “Squander”.
Idlozi Lami- DJ Obza (featuring Nkosazana & DJ Freetz)
Emerging last year with “Mang’Dakiwe”, DJ Obza maintains his hit making momentum with the release of his new single “Idlozi Lami”. The song’s powerful lyrics “ndibulela idlozi lami” translate to “I’m thankful to my ancestors”. Nkosazana’s celestial and otherworldly voice is fitting to the song’s messaging and it sits perfectly on the beat crafted by DJ Obza and DJ Freetz.
Vula Mlomo- Musa Keys (featuring Sir Trill & Nobantu Vilakazi)
Musa Keys’ “Vula Mlomo” is a combination of the chilled, vocal and sgubhu-centric volume of Amapiano. While Sir Trill’s sentimental vocals carry the track, it’s Nobantu Vilakazi’s signature and addictive chant that takes it to a trance-inducing show. “Vula Mlomo” has also topped the charts at multiple major radio stations.
Manuel- Josiah De Disciple & Kabza De Small
Taken from Josiah De Disciple’s latest album Spirit of Makoela Volume 2: “Manuel” sees the two pioneering and extremely talented producers trade vocals. Kabza has been flexing his vocal chords lately and, on the song, he addresses Manuel who, according to the lyrics, owes him. On paper, “Manuel” is a certified smash and fortunately, that energy translates to the audio as well.
Banyana- DJ Maphorisa x Tyler ICU (featuring Sir Trill, Daliwonga & Kabza De Small)
This list would not have been completed without DJ Maphorisa. Two of the most sought-after Amapiano vocalists did a massive collaboration on the DJ Maphorisa and Tyler ICU cut “Banyana”, taken from their joint EP of the same name. The song introduces Charles Webster’s club mix of Michel Cleis’s “La Mezcla”, which was famously sampled on Kwesta’s “Mayibabo”. Since its release in April, the song has been in the top 10 of the most streamed songs on Apple Music.
This year has defiantly been the year for Boohle in terms of her music. After months of teasing it, Boohle finally released her Busta-929 produced single, “Hamba Nobani”. The song features Reece Madlisa & Zuma who deliver compelling verses. For the first few lines of his verse, Reece Madlisa collages lyrics from Mshoza and Mzambiya’s kwaito classic “Kortez”. The artists are among the hottest names in Amapiano right now, and as expected, “Hamba Nobani” is an absolute banger.
Siyathandana- Cassper Nyovest (featuring Boohle and Abidoza)
Cassper Nyovest is one of the most sorts after artist in South Africa especially with how versatile he is. Cassper Nyovest unleashed his Boohle and Abidoza-assisted single “Siyathandana”, a track from his upcoming Amapiano project Sweet & Short 2.0. While Nyovest renders a good verse, it’s Boohle’s ground breaking vocals that steal the show. The singer-songwriter introduces the melody of Bob Sinclair’s “World Hold On” (Axwell mix), which was extremely popular in South Africa in the mid-2000s, to make for an enchanting ‘piano revamp of the tune.
16 Inch- Mdu aka TRP
Mdu aka TRP is one of the many talented producers signed to Kabza De Small’s imprint Piano Hub and has been part of the duo Mdu aka TRP & Bongza. His most recent solo track “16 Inch” was made popular by MC and TV host Uncle Vinny even before its official release. The song soundtracks Vinny’s infamous and viral dance moves. A favourite at groove, “16 Inch” proves that there’s still room for popular instrumental-only Amapiano songs.
The best Amapiano songs by Nigerian artists
From Rema to Kizz Daniel, Nigerian artists know a hot trend when they see one, and have a special way of being completely relaxed and making it their own.
The internet has long expedited creative and cultural exchange between (African) regions in music. Beyond mere musical inflections; from Fela & Hugh Masekela, Burna & AKA, Niniola & Busiswa, South Africa and Nigeria have maintained a longstanding creative tie, with example like the collaboration between DJ maphorisa and Wizkid giving us one of the biggest hit Soweto baby in South Africa history. In the past year, a South African sub-genre called Amapiano emerged in contemporary pop culture across Nigeria. Despite its South African origins, Nigerian artists, DJs, and producers – as usual – have clinched this hot trend as a base to much of their musical influence to date.
The Nigerian music industry started by infusing elements of Amanpiano into existing records to create remixes. Some of such songs include “Nobody” by DJ Neptune and Joeboy & Mr Eazi, Dangerous Love by Tiwa Savage among others. The efficacy of these remixes will push Nigerian artists to up the ante, by teaming up with producers to create records that maximize Amapiano to the fullest. Here is a list of Nigerian artist that have maximize the use of Amapiano to the fullest
Rena is undoubtedly one of the Best artists in Nigeria at the moment, giving us hit after hit. The Ozedikus Nwanne-produced record which was released during Rema’s run as Apples Up Next in June 2020 is one of the early Nigerian records to tap into the South African Amapiano genre. In Woman, the 20-year-old embraces his reckless attraction towards the opposite sex, mindless of whatever characteristics she might be made of. The singer while defining the uniqueness of his relationship with the different women in his life, whimsically addresses the importance of consent nonetheless, as he sings If them no do, no be by force. Plenty wey dey wey go concur. This song trended on so many music plat form as well as topped so many chart. Rema really did justice to this track.
Falz- Squander (feat. Niniola)
The music video for this song is enough to get you plugged into the track without actually listening to the song. On “Squander”, Falz teamed up with Niniola who is known for bringing her different personality into any song she is involved in. Niniola has long been pally with South African subgenres. The Yung Willis-produced record was really a huge hit maker during the time of its release in Nigeria. Sung in Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, the three major Nigerian ethnic groups, Falz and Niniola are all about partying and living lavishly with reckless abandon. Falz makes his directorial debut with the visuals which narrates a story of gaming politicians who steal public funds and hoard palliatives. It’s impossible not to dance to this awesome track.
Peruzzi- Southy Love (feat. Fireboy)
Two of Nigeria’s ingenious songwriters teamed up to deliver a mix of Pop and R&B laced with amapiano masterminded by P.Prime. The record hammers on long distance, unrequited love, and going above & beyond to make the relationship work still. Southy Love is another single off Peruzzi’s forthcoming album dubbed Rum & Boogie slated for release later in the year. The highly anticipated album features Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal, Teni, Patoranking etc.
Niniola- Look Like Me
Off her sophomore album, Colors & Sounds, Niniola taps the South African phenomenon in tracks like Addicted, Look like Me, Oh Sharp featuring Busiswa. Niniola is renowned for effectively wielding South African elements to deliver impressive records since the virality of Maradona. Produced by South Africa’s Shuffle Muzik, Look Like Me is about being yourself and shining through owning your identity no matter how unconventional you are, Niniola tells PAM. The records visual has since earned the Queen of Afro-house Missy Elliots seal of approval.
Patoranking was one of the biggest gainers when the gqom wave rocked the Nigerian music industry circa 2018 with Available. Off his third album Three, the singer teams with Ghanaian born, South African producer, C-Tea to deliver Nobody. Here, Patoranking lends his signature patois to an instrumental that intersects reggae and amapiano rhythm.
Off his debut album, Somewhere between Beauty & Magic is Consent, a boppy, conscious record that opens with an agelong popular chant known to have emerged from South Africa. The Semzi-produced track backs the emphatic discourse about consent in pop culture as Joeboy admonishes don’t be foolish, don’t act stupid.
Davido- I got a Friend (feat. Mayorkun & Sho Madjozi)
Davido taps Sho Madjozi alongside his protege, Mayorkun to pay tribute to some friends from his father, Mr Adeleke to his manager, Asa Asika and deceased cronies like Pop Smoke, Tagbo, Olu, etc. Madjozi also acknowledges her allyship with the South African disco veteran as she sings Papa Penny imnghana wa mina. The record produced by Fresh VDM is housed under Davido’s third album, A Better Time.
DJ Kaywise- Highway (feat. Phyno)
DJ Kaywise enlists indigenous rapper, Phyno in the Yung Willis-produced number that has become one of the biggest songs of 2021 in Nigeria. In Highway, Phyno, in Igbo language, sings about living in the fast lane. The record became the first song that topped Nigeria’s Apple Music Top 100 Chart in 2021 and stayed weeks until toppled by Away from Mavin’s new signee, Ayra Starr.
CKay- Kiss me like you miss me
Following his signing to Warner Music South Africa comes Boyfriend, the singer’s third EP. Kiss me like you miss me off the project depicts some gush of euphoria after his relationship survives a thunderstorm. Following his four-year stint at Chocolate City, the singer-producer who’s one of PAM’s artists to watch in 2021 is seemingly on course to have a stellar run indeed.
Kizz Daniel- Currently (feat. Olamide)
In what will be a follow-up to his King of Love album, Kizz Daniel delivers Currently with assists from LK Kuddy, Olamide and Falz. The Masterkraft-produced number does bear a hybrid of rhythms that presumably has tendencies to catapult Kizz Daniel back at the top of Nigerian music industry’s echelon where he rightly belongs.
Top 60 Amapiano songs according to Spotify
Number of weeks on cart
Gogo D&D Studios
DBN Gogo Feat. Blaqnick, MasterBlaq, Mpura, Ama Avenger, M.J
Junior De Rocka Feat. Lady Du, Mr JazziQ, Mellow, Sleazy
Musa Keys Feat. Sir Trill, Nobantu Vilakazi
Prime Hold Consult
Busta 929 Feat. Mpura, Zuma, Mr JazziQ, Lady Du, Reece Madlisa
Kamo Mphela Entertainment
Universal Music (Pty) Ltd
De Mthuda Feat. Sir Trill, Da Muziqal Chef
Black Is Brown Ent and Prime Hold Consulting
Mr JazziQ Feat. Kabza De Small, Boohle, Lady Du
Open Mic Productions
Mapara A Jazz Feat. Master KG, Soweto Gospel Choir, Mr Brown, John Delinger
Gcina Impilo Yami
DJ Cleo Feat. Bucy Radebe
Steven Seagal Groove
Ntokzin Feat. Sir Trill
Open Mic Productions
Dj Obza Feat. Nkosazana, DJ Freetz
DJ Jawz Feat. Bob Mabena, Reece Madlisa, Zuma, Busta 929
Main Mix CCA
Kwiish SA Feat. Njelic, MalumNator, De Mthuda
Semi Tee Feat. MDU aka TRP, Sir Trill
De Small Feat. DJ Maphorisa, TRESOR
Bathandwa (feat. Bassie)
New Money Gang
DJ Maphorisa Feat. Tyler ICU, Sir Trill, Daliwonga, Kabza De Small
New Money Gang
Mas Musiq Feat. Nia Pearl
David Gresham Records
BosPianii Feat. Manqonqo, Sbopho
Universal Music (Pty) Ltd
Dj Melzi Feat. Mkeyz, Mphow 69
AfroToniQ Feat. Gugu, Djemba
New Money Gang
Tyler ICU Feat. Nicole Elocin, Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa
Universal Music (Pty) Ltd
DJ Stokie Feat. Kabza De Small, Masterpiece Madumane
Lady Du Feat. DBN Gogo, Mr JazziQ, Seekay, Busta 929
Universal Music (Pty) Ltd.
Major League Djz Feat. Abidoza, Mpho Sebina
(Stop Gbv) Dvine Brothers Music
KG Smallz Feat. MellowBone, VIC SA, Fako
Kweyama Brothers Feat. Mpura, 12am
Majesty Music Entertainmen
Makazi (feat. Mr JazziQ) t
Busiswa Feat. Mr JazziQ
jozi entertainment levels ent
Kammu Dee Feat. Focalistic, Semi Tee
Piano Hub (PTY) LTD
Kabza De Small Feat. WizKid, Burna Boy, Cassper Nyovest, Madumane
993100 Records DK
Can’t Live Without-
Yashna Feat. Tyler ICU
Sound African Recordings
The 20 Best Amapiano Songs of 2020
According to Spotify for two consecutive years, amapiano powerhouse and frontrunner and self acclaimed father of the amapiano genre, Kabza De Small is the most streamed South African artist among South African audiences across all genres. Amapiano’s popularity keeps growing, not only in South Africa but in some parts of the continent and the rest of the world. Some major Nigerian artists have been incorporating the genre into their own music, with even Drake showing interest with the release of his album certified lover boy.
Even the pandemic could not stop massive growth of amapiano or stall the pace of the movement’s growth. The year 2020 saw lots of amapiano hits and projects by the likes of Scorpion Kings, Vigro Deep, Busiswa, MFR Souls and many others. The biggest songs in South Africa at the moment are prevalently amapiano.
Below are the rounds up of our picks of the best amapiano songs of 2020 listed in no particular order.
Kabza De Small featuring Wizkid, Burna Boy, Cassper Nyovest, Madumane “Sponono”
Having Wizkid and Burna boy on the same track is absolutely out satnding; Kabza De Small spared no expense in featuring A-list artist on this track. One of Kabza De Small’s most successful singles this year was “Sponono” off his enormous 27-track album I am the King of Amapiano: Sweet and Dust, which in amapiano slang, sweet describes the melodic version of amapiano and dust, its unpolished twin. Stamping his global footprint, the collaboration with Grammy award winning Nigerian artists Wizkid and Burna Boy on “Sponono” further exposed Kabza De Small’s music to international audiences.
MFR Souls featuring Major League Djz, Kamo Mphela, Bontle Smith “Amamanikiniki”
Two top producers and DJ from Katlehong, a township Johannesburg’s eastern outskirts, have been really instrumental in the growth of amapiano from when it was an underground movement and didn’t have a cult following, with only a core following of committed punters. Following the success of their single “Love You Tonight” featuring DJ Maphorisa, Sha Sha and Kabza De Small, “Amanikiniki” became a hit, thanks largely to Kamo Mphela’s vocal feature and popularity as a dancer and social media personality. The song gained even more popularity with the release of an accompanying music video in which Mphela is front and centre.
Mapara a Jazz (featuring Ntosh Gazi & Colano) “John Vuli Gate”
Maano Maphwe and Tshepiso Malatji are members of the group who are collectively known as Mapara a Jazz had their first major hit and recognition in 2020 with their single “Corona” released during the start of the pandemic and onset of the national lockdown. Their second single of the year, “John Vuli Gate”, became a social media sensation when five women made and posted a video of themselves copying a dance move previously posted by the artists.
Vigro Deep featuring Focalistic “Blue Monday”
Any project Focalistic is involved in is always a major banger. Vigro Deep’s elevation to eminent in South African music and his growing popularity abroad have largely been because of his consistency in producing major hit makers. On his project, Rise of a Baby Boy, “Blue Monday” featuring rapper Focalistic has done best on digital streaming platforms and at groove. More than a charge of dominance, this project showed that the flag bearer for a particular style of amapiano originating from Pitori can diversify his sound.
Kabza De Small featuring Daliwonga “iLog Drum”
The self acclaimed king of amapiano is on the list again which goes to show that he really is the king of amapiano genre. “iLog Drum” strikes a balance between the sweet melodic amapiano and the unpolished dust variant without it sounding forced. In recent times, Kabza De Small’s sound has stressed more on melodies in voice and keys over drum and bass arrangements which, at times, sound repetitive or recycled. Interestingly, Daliwonga who has appeared on a number of Kabza De Small and Maphorisa’s productions uses a vocal style very similar to Samthing Soweto, another one of the two producers’ hit making collaborators. “iLog Drum” proves that the producer who was one of the movement’s pioneers, and is now at the forefront of amapiano’s global presence, is capable of artistic feats that have placed him rightfully as the head of the movement.
Tyler ICUfeat. Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa “Bella Ciao”
Wondering where you heard the name Bella Ciao, yes you got it right it is the official sound track for the TV series money heist. In 2020, Tyler ICU went from relative being unknown to releasing one of the strongest amapiano singles of the year and securing collaborations which have set his path for expanding his audience and also putting him forward as one of the best amapiano artist in South Africa. “Bella Ciao” is an amapiano rendition of an Italian protest folk song used as the theme song for TV series Money Heist. The song’s smooth vocals contrast with its kwaito-influenced instrumental to make it simultaneously catchy, satisfying and addictive.
Busiswa featuring Kamo Mphela “SBWL”
If Kabza De Small is the self acclaimed king of amapiano, then Busiswa should be the queen of amapiano. An amapiano song with female artists behind it and an almost purely female cast for its video is, unfortunately, still a rare occurrence and it’s a breath of fresh air seeing them working together. Established artist Busiswa features star of the moment, dancer and vocalist Kamo Mphela, on a track and in a video which is in some ways a celebration of happy black women. The track’s title is derived from a social media trend “sbwl” (a stylised version of the Xhosa word “sabaweli” which roughly expresses desire or craving for something) that has become a common discussion in South Africa.
The Lowkeys “Stolen Goods”
The Lowkeys, are a group consisting of three members from Pitori East were set for a bumper year after the release of their Main Sound of Pitori project in 2019. With the lockdown, they resorted to television, radio and live streams to market their 2020 release “Stolen Goods”. On it, The Lowkeys expand on their distinctly Pitori amapiano sound, only with the percussion and drums making room for other elements, like celestial piano chords and solos, to breathe. Which shows a massive sign of artistic growth?
Caltonic SA featuring Sje Konka “Bambelela”
Twenty-year old Elias Shitlhangu says that he started producing electronic music in 2017, making tribal and commercial house as well as gqom when he started. He soon realised amapiano’s popularity and has taken to the movement, offering an uncanny ability to programme soul stirring drums and percussions, but also making space for vocalists to soften his sound on some songs. The title of his project Terminator (Half Man Half Machine can only mean striking a balance between electronic instrumentation and the vocal human element, a balance Caltonic SA is still striving to reach.
Soa Mattrix, Soulful G Feat. Shaun 101 “Uthando”
Everything about this track is epic from the melodic chorus; keys and pop arrangement of “Uthando” have made it a popular sing along. The drums and bass in it have a signature Soa Mattrix style, all toned down to make space for the top elements to drive the song. Released in the second half of the year, the single has made names for both Soa Mattrix and Soulful G. There is an element of Afro-pop to “Uthando” which makes it more diverse and accessible to listeners both in and outside the amapiano fold as Afro pop is one of the major genres taking the world by storm. Speaking to all ages and demographics is especially important when, usually, the summer period it was released in sees family members of different ages and ilk’s gather for festivities.
DBN Gogo & Dinho featuring Felo Le Tee, Hi Levelz, Optimist Music ZA “French Kiss”
This song title is giving me major vibes, if you what I mean. We have another DJ and producer duo on this list. DJing and producing duo Mandisa Radebe and Tiego Motau have had different journeys to the places they currently occupy in South African music. Radebe started DJ-ing in 2017 and has since become known for her song “Mayonice” released in 2019. Tiego Motau is most known firstly for his annual festival, Dinho Café held in Mamelodi on 26 December and secondly for his DJ-ing as one of the established artists in Pitori. Their seven-track collaborative project, Thokoza Café is mostly deep house influenced and “French Kiss” is the strongest single on it.
De Mthuda & Njelic ft. Mkeys “Ebumnandini”
Producer and DJ De Mthuda was one of the early stars of amapiano, enlisted the falsetto singing Njelic on “Ebumnandini”. Released early in 2020, the song’s piano melody has a salsa feel that creates the base for Njelic’s harmonizing and call-and-response. This song hits the sweet spot with its steady groove and catchy vocals.
Gaba Cannal ft. Zelous, Gwinsi “Abalele”
The two projects Gaba Cannal has released this year, Great I Am and Statements are a solid hit that offer quality production, a considerate use of amapiano arrangements while imbuing the work with deeply emotional and spiritual undercurrents. This tightrope between dance music, emotion and the soul is demonstrated best on “Abalele”, which gives us both traditional and modern vibe and could be perceive as a wake up for groove or a call on ancestors (abalele) to rise.
Vigro Deep featuring Mhawkeys “Piano King”
The regency of amapiano is rightfully contested. The cover art for Rise of a Baby Boy, the 19-track project by the 19 year-old producer, shows a child on a throne flanked by two lions and the project’s final track is titled “Piano King”. This last instrumental on the project has forceful drum arrangements, punchy organ and guitar solos and melodies building to crashing breaks.
Reece Madlisa & Zuma – “Sithi Sithi”
“Sithi Sithi” became a really popular hit even when the national lockdown was lifted and it also became an instant hit immediately after it was released. The song’s lyrics are about suspected witchcraft giving off the same vibe that karishika by Nigerian singer Flaz, describing a suspected perpetrator who flies around naked. The tribal house-influenced, hi hat and shaker-driven rhythm could have easily been a mismatch for the lyrics delivered in a kwaito style. It’s Zuma’s vocal ability, sitting on the beat while punctuating the high points in the instrumental which creates synergy.
Major League DJz & Abidoza feat. Cassper Nyovest, Kammu Dee & Ma Lemon “”
Cassper Nyovest is arguably one of the biggest artists in South Africa and he has taken the amapiano genre and given it his own personal style. Le Plane E’Landile is a fitting soundtrack for the hedonistic festive season in South Africa, Major League DJz and Abadozia’s collaboration carries the spirit of celebration in it, with the chorus’ lyrics and song title being about a plane that has landed. Alongside the DJ duo, Abidozia showcases his producing talent with the haunting bass lines and upbeat drum arrangements synchronized masterfully with samples popular with amapiano producers making rare and timely appearances.
Rema gave amapiano another whole meaning with its carefully crafted melodies and also by combining both amapiano and Afrobeat together. Divine Ikubor released “Woman” in the same period as other Nigerian artists (notably Niniola and Mayorkun) who have been experimenting with the amapiano sound released their offerings. “Woman” stands out for its having matched the energies that amapiano and Afrobeat bring with haunting melodic samples in the background of tight drums and percussion. In Nigeria, woman topped several chart for weeks, we would love to see Rema do something like this again.
DJ Neptune, Joeboy & Mr Eazi featuring Focalistic “Nobody”
When the DJ Neptune-produced song “Nobody” was released, it quickly made charts in Nigeria, topping every single chart in the country. The amapiano remix featuring Focalistic was released soon after. On it, the bass line especially gives an edgier feel to the catchy verses and chorus. The year 2020 saw a number of Nigerian artists and producers releasing amapiano remixes of their songs, sometimes with delightful outcomes like “Dangerous Love” remixed by De Mthuda and DJ Ganyani and DeMogul separately. This strategy could be helpful in getting more collaborative work between Nigerian and South African artist.
Focalistic featuring Vigro Deep “Vrr Pha”
Focalistic rarely ever misses a chance to give us massive hits, I have officially crowned him the hits master, then combining Focalistic and Vigro Deep we should be rest assured for they always understand the assignment. “Vrrr Pha” is set to continue the trend of him dropping major bangers, being the lyricist’s main singles off his latest project Sghubu Ses Excellent. Based on an onomatopoeic slang phrase of a car which makes a loud popping sound when it accelerates, the song sees Focalistic play with the theme of pre-party goings-on, much like “Shesha” which preceded it.
Reece Madlisa and Zuma have not slowed down the growing popularity of “Zlele”, perhaps fuelling it was the lifted lockdown which saw events recommence recently. Recent releases by the Reece Madlisa and Zuma duo have been deep in the pocket of amapiano songs made for groove. This one is no different, except for the kwaito influence on the instrumental.
21 Amapiano songs by artists from outside South Africa to stream right now
By now, it’s an open secret that amapiano is being produced outside of South Africa where it originates. Nigerian producers and artists, mostly, have embraced the sound and are creating and releasing their own interpretations of amapiano and amapiano-inspired songs, and they have been doing wonderfully well with the infusion of Afro beat into the amapiano genre.
The songs have resulted in cross-cultural sounds and collaborations that, in their own way, serve to unite, celebrate and foster an exchange cultural and music scenes that exist throughout the continent. As a result, these fusions have seen a number people casually refer to the infusion of Afro beat and amapiano as “Afropiano, Afro-amapiano etc” or the combination of Kenya’s gengetone with amapiano which will give “gengepiano”.
Music has always connected the people of the continent and the Diaspora beyond the cultural and language barriers that sometimes exist, especially in this new generation as everyone have began to acknowledge Afro beat, k-pop and Latina songs.
As it stands, amapiano is potentially on pace to influence a significant portion of the overall sonic landscape of some parts of the continent and penetrate further into other markets, reaching new audiences. It is already being produced in the UK, Japan, US and other countries.
Below is a list of amapiano and amapiano-infused songs made by artists from outside of South Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique, in no particular order.
Tunde Ednut “Jingle Bell” (featuring Davido, Tiwa Savage & Seun Kuti) (Produced by Ozedikus) (Nigeria)
Controversial Nigerian entertainer Tunde Ednut assembled some major superstars Davido, Tiwa Savage and Seun Kuti to give his 2011 single a major facelift. In 2020 Tunde brought in an amapiano vibe and I must say he killed it courtesy of Ozedikus, who co-produced Rema’s “Woman”. Tiwa Savage starts her verse with sprinkles of Zulu/Xhosa chants, “Haaa’ibo! Come here wena” and Kuti provides soothing saxophone sounds that bring greater joy to the Christmas themed record.
Olamide “Loading” (featuring Bad Boy Timz) (produced by P. Prime) (Nigeria)
Veteran rapper Olamide unleashed “Loading” off of his eleventh studio album Carpe Diem (this album has to be Olamide best album till date). The song has a viral dance challenge that has taken video-sharing platforms by storm. The choreographed dance routine features some zanku (a Nigerian dance steps which mostly consist of using your leg) dance moves which may leave the listener singing, “I can’t feel my legs no more,” and I really did not feel my legs again after dancing to zanku, if they loop the song long enough, as Bad Boy Timz encourages in the song’s hook. In an interview, Olamide sang P. Prime’s praises, calling his sounds “otherworldly” and that the seven songs he produced on his album “sound like nothing you have heard before”. The song’s music video has amassed over 4.6 million views on YouTube since its release in late November. Loading also smashed so many charts in Nigeria, Olamide really redefine his singing style.
Kagwe Mungai “Chay Chay” (produced by By Kagwe Mungai) (Kenya)
“Chay Chay” epitomises the various exciting new sounds the continent keeps churning out. The self-produced song perfectly mashes-up Kenya’s gengetone with amapiano resulting in a sound Mungai has coined “genge piano”. Mungai, who has spent some years living in SA, revealed in an interview that he was “really deep in the amapiano wave” at the time he made the song, and was curious as to how to incorporate amapiano with Kenyan sounds and I must say he outdid himself, the song was a massive hit in Kenya.
Marioo “Mama Amina” (featuring Sho Madjozi and Bontle Smith) (produced by Tboy Daflame) (Tanzania)
Marioo’s Kiswahili vocals fit perfectly on this tune. The song, produced by Sho Madjozi’s frequent producer Tboy Daflame, also features South African vocalist Bontle Smith. Since its release in late November, it has topped Apple Music’s Top Songs chart in Tanzania. With over 2.3 million views on YouTube, a quick run-down of the comments gives an indication that the fans want more of these types of collaborations. Last month, while performing at a show in Tanzania, Sho Madjozi brought out Marioo for a performance of the song and the crowd went crazy, I would definitely run crazy f0r this track.
Dremo “E Be Tinz” (featuring Mayorkun) (produced by Fresh VDM) (Nigeria)
Davido Music Worldwide (DMW) signees, rapper Dremo and Mayorkun teamed up for this banging amapiano record produced by Fresh VDM who produced Mayorkun’s “Of Lagos”. This is the first time we hear Dremo flow on an amapiano-influenced beat, while the ‘Mayor Of Lagos’ has confessed his love for the genre in an interview and it appears he is gonna be riding the wave for some time.
Davido “I Got a Friend” (featuring Mayorkun, Sho Madjozi) (produced by Fresh VDM) (Nigeria)
Three out of the 17 bangers on Davido’s latest album are amapiano-inspired. Davido opens the track with the lyrics, “Okay I’m here to introduce to you / A couple of my friends / and I want you guys to know who they are right now / ‘Cause we type lit right now,” and the last line perfectly describes the entire vibe of the song. While Madjozi begins with: “OBO na Sho Madjozi / ‘Piano ke tsa ko Pitori,” reminding everyone of the birthplace of amapiano, Pretoria. Throughout the song, Davido, Mayorkun and Madjozi shout out names of multiple people they consider their friends, from Davido’s longtime manager Asa Asika to Tsonga disco music legend Papa Penny and the late Pop Smoke.
Niniola “Look Like Me” (produced by Shuffle Muzik) (Nigeria)
Niniola, whose breakout hit “Maradonna” was extremely popular in SA, is often dubbed the “Queen of Afro-House”. Her latest album fittingly has three amapiano-infused songs and one of them features South Africa’s Busiswa. The beat to “Look like me” was crafted by amapiano producer Shuffle Muzik from Pretoria who has worked with Niniola before and also produced “Oh Sharp” (with Busiswa) on her album. The song’s comic book-inspired music video which caught the attention of Missy Elliot sees the characters dance popular dances associated with the genre of amapiano.
A-Star “Nana Riddim” (featuring French Nana) (produced by Bobbi Zion) (United Kingdom)
Ghanaian-born, London-based musician A-Star (of Kupe dance fame), went down south to get inspiration for his recent single “Nana Riddim”. The song proves to be yet another viral dance craze. A video of four ladies busting some popular South African dance moves including the “pouncing cat” and “vosho” to the song has been circulating on social media, and has even resulted in an official dance tutorial video and subsequent dance challenge. French Nana’s catchy “kiti ti ti ti, kiti ti ti ti” chant is the perfect for hyping up dancers.
DJ Spuzza and AKA “Soek Soek” Remix (featuring Chester Houseprince, Don Kamati, Mega & Chakie) (Namibia)
As neighbours, Namibia and South Africa share far more than just geographical location. “Soek Soek” is one example of the many trade-offs, the original song was significantly popular in Namibia and for the remix, DJ Spuza tapped South African rapper AKA who also has been experimenting with the genre (and its distinct sounds). Some of the song’s lyrics are in Afrikaans (a language spoken in both countries), while some chants are borrowed from isiZulu.
DJ Tunez and Olamide “Require” (produced by P. Prime) (Nigeria)
Nigeria’s DJ Tunez has fully embraced amapiano; from releasing an amapiano EP with D3AN (Love Language Vol 1) to the pair producing the track “Lucky Star” on Busiswa’s latest album, My Side of the Story. It is then no surprise that he and producer P. Prime brought out the best out of Olamide, and had him singing beautifully on this banger. On the week of it release, the song charted on Apple music in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.
Rexxie “KPK (Ko Por Ke)” (featuring MohBad) (produced by Rexxie) (Nigeria)
Rexxie is responsible for some of Zlatan and Naira Marley’s biggest hits. Since 2018, he has been producing songs that have made the zanku dance a staple in popular culture, and for his latest song, he fused his signature street pop rhythms with amapiano. The song quickly went viral and became a street anthem in Nigeria and became and instant chart success on various streaming platforms, reaching a milestone of 10 million combined streams.
Peruzzi “Southy Love” (featuring Fireboy DML) (produced by P. Prime) (Nigeria)
Gbedu meets the log drum on Peruzzi’s latest single, “Southy Love” off his upcoming Rum & Boogie album. Seeing how their DMW and YBNL bosses and label mates are jumping onto amapiano, Peruzzi and Fireboy had to also get in on the action. The two trade verses, declaring that they would do anything for love and they are going to take flight to see their love interest, whose southy love they can’t get enough of. Amongst all the credits he has on this list, P. Prime is also the producer of DJ Xclusive’s latest amapiano single, “Gegeti”.
Falz “Squander” (featuring Niniola) (produced by Yung Willis) (Nigeria)
Falz enlists the Queen of Afro-House for his latest single, “Squander”. As the queen, Niniola has proven that she can kill different types of house beats, one YouTube user even commented, Niniola has also experimented with the amapiano genre on several of her track. “The beat itself was made for Niniola”. At the beginning of the song’s hook, Falz sings: “Ina kwana, ina gajiya/ everything nmaranma/ Ka yin weta cash for squander,” bragging about everything being good and him having money to squander.
Masterkraft “Hallelu” (featuring Bella Shmurda and Zlatan) (produced by Masterkraft) (Nigeria)
Veteran producer Masterkraft taps zanku progenitor Zlatan and breakout star Bella Shmurda for his latest single. “Brother, don’t bother me/ Oluwa, cover me/ whatever you wishing me/ good or bad, back to sender ni,” Shmurda sings on the song’s hook, while Zlatan provides his charismatic flows (and signature adlibs) in the verses. Previously, Masterkraft released an amapiano banger “Equipment”, with his frequent collaborator Flavour and has been crafting ‘piano beats for other artists as well, including Tekno (“Uptown Girl”), Vector (“No Worries”) and Mr Dutch (“Mamasita”).
L.A.X “Go Low” (produced by Clemsy) (Nigeria)
Nigerian musician L.A.X also included an amapiano vibe on his Zaza Vibes album. He and producer Clemsy worked on eight out of the 12 songs on L.A.X’s album and, on “Go Low”, they showed off their versatility by producing a mellow amapiano beat that is guaranteed to make the list.
Zinoleesky “Kilofeshe” (produced by Niphkeys) (Nigeria)
The first word Zinoleesky utters, after the beat-drop (and producer tag), is “amapiano”. Presumably, as a way of letting the listener “know the vibes” and to avoid confusion or chatter about what sound of the song is. “This amapiano sound is becoming the new wave,” reads one of the many YouTube comments under the song’s audio. “Kilofeshe” was the lead single to the debut EP by the burgeoning Marlian signee.
Holmes “Finally” (featuring DJ Neptune) (produced by P. Loops) (Nigeria)
In November, emerging Afro-pop musician Holmes released the follow-up to his Davido-assisted single. “Finally”, which was recorded in South Africa, contains Zulu & Xhosa chants and lyrics (“mama, shesha geza… ndikhetha wena/ Ndizaku-touch (a) later… Haaayibo, hayi, yebo”), and features DJ Neptune who previously released an amapiano remix to his mega hit “Nobody” with a Focalistic guest verse.
Midas the Jagaban “Paigons” (featuring Sho Madjozi) (produced by Guilty Beatz) (United Kingdom)
Buzzing London-based, Nigerian musician Midas the Jagaban, with the help of Guilty Beatz, created this major banger of a tune which finds the middle ground between Afroswing/Afrobashment and amapiano. Following the success of the singles “Come We Bill Ehh” and “Party With A Jagaban”, the mysterious mask-wearing artist released her debut EP Midas Touch in December 2020. “Paigons” features SA rapper Sho Madjozi, who seems to be getting featured in most of these cross-country amapiano collaborations and we really love to see it.
Patoranking “Nobody” (produced by C-Tea) (Nigeria)
Seasoned musician Patoranking enlisted Ghanaian-born, SA-based producer C-Tea for “Nobody” off of his third studio album Three. Some YouTube users suggest the beat is akin to the production signature style of SA amapiano producer Vigro Deep, by calling it a “Vigro Deep type beat”. Patoranking delivers his infectious signature dancehall and reggae vocals, and the song blends the two genres which originate from two opposite ends of the world. Previously, the artist has played with SA’s gqom sound via his 2017 single “Available”, which was co-produced by DJ Maphorisa.
DJ Tarico “Yaba Buluku” (featuring Preck and Nelson Tivane) (produced by DJ Tarico) (Mozambique)
“Yaba Buluku” is essentially Mozambique’s response to Mapara A Jazz’s “John Vuli Gate”; from the chant-heavy hook (with a concealed meaning) to the similar dance and virality on TikTok. The suggestive lyrics of the song are mostly in Xitsonga, a language spoken in both Mozambique and South Africa. Yaba Buluku is lifted from DJ Tarico’s Moz Piano Vol.2 album and is doing well on streaming platforms.
DJ Kaywise “High Way” (featuring Phyno) (produced by Yung Willis) (Nigeria)
Indigenous rapper Phyno raps in Igbo about living life in the fast lane on this up-tempo tune. The music video for this track featured veteran actor Pete Edochie and many of us did not see that coming. “High Way” follows after DJ Kaywise’s star-studded “What Type of Dance”, and is produced by Yung Willis, who is also behind the amapiano beat on Falz’s “Squander”. The song enjoyed streaming success on various DSPs in Nigeria, and has topped Apple Music’s Top 100: Nigeria chart.
What makes amapiano distinct from other genres popular in South Africa
Amapiano is the electronic music movement that gives the most accurate, recent portrait of South African music from the 1990s to now. The music’s pace and tempo, keyboard solos and drums are what make amapiano very distinctive. Amapiano makes proper use of the piano and drums coupled with the fast pace and electrifying beat makes it a major banger. The first Amapiano songs were created on cracked software, distributed via messaging apps like WhatsApp and marketed by word of mouth and on social media. Amapiano’s growth builds on decades of global interest for South African electronic dance music. Amapiano’s transition from an underground sound popular in Black South African townships to a global force in electronic dance music, using digital distribution and marketing tools, holds lessons for other music scenes across the globe.