Amapiano has emerged as one of the leading music genres in Africa. Originally starting in South Africa, this music is now played across the whole continent with prominent artists collaborating with producers to create major bangers. Many creatives have fused this with their local genres to create sub-genres like “Afropiano” (Afro music and amapiano) which is popular among the folks in West Africa and “Gengepiano” (Gengetone with amapiano) which is highly played by East Africans. Music is a unifying tool and Amapiano has rightfully played its part in uniting the people of Africa and as such, it may soon be one of the major identities of the African culture.
Definition and history of Amapiano.
Exactly what is Amapiano though? The name originates from the Zulu language meaning “the pianos” and is a style of house music that emerged from South Africa in2012. It is a hybrid of local house flavors, jazzy dance music, and lounge music characterized by synths, jazzy chord progression, airy pads, and wide percussive bass lines. As the name suggests, the music is distinguished by high-pitched piano melodies, Kwaito bass lines, low tempo 90s South African house rhythms, and afro percussions from another local subgenre of house called Bacardi. The exact origin is debatable among South Africans as there are claims from both Johannesburg and Pretoria but one thing is for sure is it sounds even better with soulful vocals from the local dialect.
It was during the Covid pandemic that led to the massive blow-up of the music to international levels. It was already big in SA but as of now the #amapiano hashtag on TikTok has over 982 million views and the shares of global streams on the AmaPiano Grooves on Spotify have increased over 120% globally over the past year.
Afro beats vs Amapiano.
For the longest time, afro beats from West Africa have dominated the continent for many years with some of the major acts that represent us on international platforms and award shows being either Nigerian or Ghanaian artists. The narrative is slowly changing as even major stars like Davido and Rema are embracing amapiano sound into their craft and this may be a sign that the reign of the Afro Beats era could be coming to an end. Although this may take a while as artists like Burna Boy, WizKid, and Mr. Eazi, among many others, have already cemented their names in the African music scene, amapiano producers such as Dj Maphorisa and artists like Sho Majodzi have already started making waves on an international scale.
A Possible future for Amapiano.
Many people associate it with Kwaito from the late 90s but now in a more modern version and faster rate to reflect the youthful energy of those who jam to it. Most of it is sung in the local dialects and not in English as it will eliminate the authentic African aspect of it and cause dis-interest among the listeners. Amapiano is made to be enjoyed on the dance floor with friends while having a good time and most often has a simple dance routine to it that everyone can execute. The focus is rarely on the lyricism aspect of it and the fewer the words the better the jam. Back in Kenya, artists such as Brandy Maina have incorporated Swahili tunes with Amapiano to create bangers like “Kubali” and “Weka Piano” featuring Rekless.
As the genre continues to grow, it will not be surprising to see it adopted across the globe and in no time, Amapiano will rule international charts and award shows