All the way from South Africa, slowly and then all at once, the Amapiano sound has traveled and successfully arrived in Nigeria. The distinct drums and rhythmic flow has taken over the playlists of Nigerian hip hop music lovers. For most listeners it started with the mega hit “KPK” which was released by Rexxie and Mohbad, two relatively unknown artistes.
Here lies one of the reasons Amapiano is having such a pull in the music scene, to an extent it isn’t about the popularity of the artiste, the trend power or the features with a big artistes to carry the song, it is mainly about the Amapiano beat and the ability of which ever artiste it is voicing it with catchy lyrics.
Amapiano makes it easy for the artistes, they don’t need too much, recording on the sound is like making a freestyle the artiste enjoys, just add a smooth chorus and let the deep, African drum style do the rest.
The history of Amapiano is deep. It is a type of musical beat scheme formed from a number of different styles either merged together or influencing it. It has its origins in South Africa where it’s been popular for a longer while. Much like gqom, a style that came before it and was used to produce hit songs like Khona by Mafikizolo, Amapiano is a South African style of music, it is a medley of deep house, jazz, kwaito and lounge music with distinct synths, airy pads, wide basslines and percussions from another local subgenre of house called Bacardi.
The name was selected to reflect the melodious piano keyboards that underlie fast-pace Gqom beats. It is a combination of the Zulu word for plural “ama” and the English noun “piano”. Amapiano emerged from the townships of South Africa, particularly Pretoria, a small city just outside Johannesburg. With Amapiano, the groove of deep house meets the sound of kwaito with the addition of jazz piano and percussion often inspired by Bacardi house.
The mix produces a simple yet wholesome, upbeat groove, South African-inspired percussion, with repetitive, raw vocal style and deep tune. The sound has been popular in the country since 2018 when it began to gain real traction, because of it’s different components and complexity, songs aren’t restricted to dance hall tunes, slow romance songs like “Right Here” by Mapara A Jazz can also be produced, as well as deep cultural songs. In 2020 it left the shores of South Africa and spread to other countries, including Nigeria.
Amapiano is the big thing in Nigeria now, it even brought a signature dance step! With the success of “KPK”, the industry was properly introduced to the genre and every artiste wants to try their hands on it, with most of them getting it spot on. Bad Boy Timz and Olamide made “Loading” on the latter’s album, Zinoleesky did “Kilofeshe”, Phyno and popular Disk Jockey DJ Kaywise made the crazy hit “High Way”, this is just mentioning a few hits.
More artistes are jumping in on the fun and in a time where having fun is important to keep people sane and to help ease stress, the drums, tambourines, pianos and the feel of ancient African history in Amapiano is providing the tonic.
Two countries almost 5000 kilometers apart but who have shared history of unity and culture. Many South African ventures thrive in Nigeria, just like Nigerians move to South Africa and succeed, the continued positive coexistence between both nations which supersedes the instances of discord should be adopted by other African nations.
There should be more attempts at shared culture and harmony, this way our rich and beautiful traditions can both be celebrated and preserved, instead of getting crowded out and lost in borrowed modern art. Amapiano is a great example of how this unity can help people appreciate the African culture it represents, bringing Africa closer together and for good cause.