Amapiano is the new Music Business, Taking Over Africa Today – Uchechukwu: South Africa, is the country where this raving music genre was invoked, by good inspirations from hardworking producers and Deejays. Ever since this sound was found interesting and appealing to the ears of music lovers, a lot of new artistes has risen from the grassroot of music, taking the advantage of Amapiano Music and finding their way to the top.

According to Wikipedia, Amapiano (Zulu for “the pianos”.) is a style of house music that emerged in South Africa in 2012. Amapiano is a hybrid of deep house, jazz and lounge music characterized by synths, airy pads and wide and percussive basslines. It is distinguished by high-pitched piano melodies, Kwaito basslines, low tempo 90s South African house rhythms and percussions from another local subgenre of house known as Bacardi.

With the likes of Kabza De Small, Busta 929, De Mthuda, Ntokzin, Mr JazziQ, Lady Du, Reece Madlisa to mention a few, were the now trending artistes amongst others, that utilized the advent of Amapiano music and rose to fame. As a matter of fact, Amapiano is becoming a threat to South African hip hop. Just like in Nigerian, in those days, when R&B and Hip Hop rap music were the talk in town, before the advent of Afrobeats and dance hall songs, saw the former phasing out already.

At this present time, music lovers, don’t really care about lyrical contents of songs or whether the song is passing message or not, rather they just want to vibe. Like I would say; is rhythm over contents because most times, when a song has good rhythm, it is very easy to remember and flow along with.

Amapiano, has already found its way to Nigeria, after we saw some deep amapiano collaborations with Nigerian topnotch singers. Presently, brilliant and creative Nigerian producers are already adding good spice of it to blend their music very well. This could be a time for SA music to be recognized internationally. And just as we saw Burna Boy, getting an award at the Grammys, we should be expecting like that from any of the artistes from South Africa.

Most South African rappers, are already switching genres, collaborating with Amapiano artists because it’s the top music business at the moment in SA. We seen some good Amapiano tunes with Nasty C, A-Reece, AKA, Cassper Nyovest and others as guests artists on them and even good singles from them. Just as dance hall has taken over Nigerian music industry, Amapiano is already on the taken too.

Just a week ago, Cassper Nyovest hinted his fans that American rapper Drake would be working on an Amapiano single very soon. Thus, Amapiano to the world stage fam. ZAPlaylist already getting updates and keeping fans abreast of good SA Amapiano songs and dropping weekly chart and ranking with well structured playlist.

According to, an SA news website, they further buttress the previous paragraph and gave more detailed highlights concerning what Mufasa said:

Rapper Cassper Nyovest has dragged South Africans for not appreciating him when he first hopped onto the amapiano wave, predicting that Canadian rapper Drake will soon join the genre.

The rapper took to Twitter and shared his thoughts on Mzansi not supporting local artists when they evolve.

He said that he did not understand why people did not back him when he ventured into Amapiano, but rather ridiculed him for not being a “real hip-hop rapper”.

In November last year, Cassper suggested he remains a legend despite being snubbed for not being “hip-hop” enough for the industry.

He said that because the industry puts artists into a “hip-hop box”, they are killing their integrity.

Kana last year I wasn’t on that (SA’s hottest MCs) list because I rapped on amapiano and kwaito beats. Hahaha! They said I would be mad and rant to create talkabilty. Then shhhhh … y’all killing your own credibility and the culture is also going to the pits. What will remain is the real! Legend!” Cassper wrote.

He said that because the industry puts artists into a “hip-hop box”, they are killing their integrity.

“Kana last year I wasn’t on that (SA’s hottest MCs) list because I rapped on amapiano and kwaito beats. Hahaha! They said I would be mad and rant to create talkabilty. Then shhhhh … y’all killing your own credibility and the culture is also going to the pits. What will remain is the real! Legend!” Cassper wrote.

Amapiano lost out on a chance to get introduced to the world through South African/Zimbabwean artist Sha Sha a few months ago. The predominantly amapiano vocalist, who appears on some of the genre’s biggest hits, recently won a BET award for Viewers’ Choice: Best New International Act beating Rema, Celeste and Young T & Bugsey from the UK, and Hatik and Sracy from France. Due to the pandemic, however, the award ceremony was held virtually .

Attending the ceremony physically could have been a great opportunity for Sha Sha to build networks and introduce amapiano to the American audience. Her win is a good look for the genre, and can be seen an indicator of what the outside markets are checking for. Besides her, Vigro Deep and Kabza de Small have also played shows in Europe.

The amapiano scene is disorganised

From its inception, the pioneers of the subgenre were independent and underground artists. They lacked “the machine” that comes with being signed to a record label. They were not getting much airplay and their content was sometimes not tailor made for radio or mass consumption as it included uncensored explicit and inappropriate lyrics, and some songs were not formally registered or available on streaming platforms (this is still true for some artists).

For the more established artists, what perhaps has hindered the crossing over can be attributed to not only vulgar lyrics, but also the lack of artist development—an artist can have a viral video, and the next day get thrown into a studio.

The small number of South Africans in the diaspora is one factor we can’t shy away from every time we speak about the crossing over of SA modern sounds. Through a DIY approach, some artists are managed by managers who may not be fully knowledgeable and not possess certain skills that are needed to manoeuvre the music industry. There are also the disorganised and haphazard releases from the artists with minimal promotion beyond social media.

Some of the subgenre’s biggest acts have flooded the market with back-to-back releases. In the past year alone, the Scorpion Kings (Kabza de Small and DJ Maphorisa) have released five projects (collectively and solo) and worked on several songs for other artists. The duo JazziDisciples have released three projects (collectively and solo) in the past seven months. The rapid releases could be as a result of how the subgenre used to operate in its infancy and how this managed to help its spread.

When you have spent time being unheard or being the underdog, there is sometimes a strong desire to put out more work even if there are no proper plans or distribution channels in place.

Lessons from gqom and other genres

Such similarities can be drawn to the subgenre gqom and how it managed to travel to Europe, North America and Asia around 2016 through fans sharing songs and links on social media. Gqom has achieved placements in movies (Black Panther) and soundtracks (Black Panther and The Lion King: The Gift). Documentation of the gqom scene helped propel it to the heights it’s currently on—artists getting international bookings, associated dance moves going viral globally and artists signing international deals.

The same trajectory can be anticipated for amapiano. The world is always watching.

Placements in playlists like Apple Music’s Africa Now, which is currently the platform’s largest African playlist, could mean amapiano artists stand a chance of being discovered by audiences in other parts of the world. Recently, we have seen artists such as Black Coffee, Nasty C, DJ Lag, Moonchild Sanelly and Sho Madjozi cross over as a result of having international agents and management that ensure that these brands are marketed abroad. Amapiano acts can follow the same blueprint.

The producers should collaborate with other artists that are already popular within other genres. DJ Sumbody’s Cassper Nyovest-assisted “Monate Mpolaye” had elements of amapiano and the song contributed to the rise of the subgenre in the mainstream. Nyovest’s performance of the song at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in 2018 is still one of his most memorable performances. Around the same time, Nyovest and DJ Sumbody released another ‘piano song “Remote Control”. Fusing amapiano with other recognisable genres could also assist in introducing people who do not necessarily listen to dance music and also ensure that the sound is not monotonous.

Nigerian superstar, Tiwa Savage recently released remixes of her single “Dangerous Love”, which has been treated to amapiano remixes from South African producers DJ Ganyani & De Mogul and De Mthuda, respectively. Collaborations of this nature should be a norm to ensure that the subgenre is exported in its authentic form.

Amapiano undoubtedly has commercial viability and crossover potential. Now, it’s up to all players involved to ensure that the crossover becomes a reality and that they are credited for exporting it, before artists and people from other regions do that on their behalf.