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SAMAs (Finally) Recognise Gqom and Amapiano as Separate Categories

The South African Music Awards (SAMAs) have announced that gqom and amapiano will be officially recognised as standalone music categories at the 2021 instalment of the awards show.

According to the SowetanLIVE, the South African Music Awards (SAMAs) have officially added gqom and amapiano categories for the 2021 edition of the awards show. This comes after the two categories were forced to compete in the 'Best Kwaito Album' category in previous years. The SAMAs organisers have reportedly stated that the growing number of gqom and amapiano nominee entries have called for the separation of the homegrown South African genres. SAMAs spokesperson Lesley Mofokeng confirmed in a public statement that kwaito, gqom and amapiano are officially standalone categories for the upcoming 27th annual SAMAs.

Read: Interview: DJ Lag is Firm on Taking Gqom To The Rest of the World

Last year's SAMAs were riddled with controversy over the lack of diverse categories and progressiveness. Case in point, DJ Tira, a gqom artist, won last year's SAMA for "Best Kwaito Album". Mofokeng reportedly addressed the complaints at the launch of the 27th SAMAs this past weekend.

"In our extensive consultations with the industry as we planned for SAMA27, it became abundantly clear that the general feeling was to separate these categories. This is testament to the popularity of these genres and the growth of our local music industry. We are delighted to witness this step in the right direction and believe that these categories will be hotly contested."

The kwaito genre started off in the early 1990s while gqom entered the music scene in the early 2010s and amapiano, a few years later. Gqom and amapiano have a large fanbase and furthermore, the genres have attracted an honourable international following. This is evident in the controversy that occurred at the end of 2020 where international artist and producer,, plagiarised South African DJ Lag's "Ice Drop" on Megan Ryte's single "Culture". South Africans were quick to callout the transgression and rallied behind DJ Lag resulting in the successful removal of the single on all music platforms.

While gqom is the antecedent to amapiano, the latter genre has grown even more with loyal fanbases. Babes Wodumo, Moonchild Sanelly, MFR Souls, Kabza De Small, Distruction Boyz and DJ Maphorisa are just a few artists that have expanded gqom and amapiano. The genres has seen Nigerian artists Niniola, Patoranking, Dbanj and others merging their signature Afrobeat sound with gqom. The recognition of Kwaito, gqom and amapiano as separate categories admittedly adds the much needed respect to the growing evolution of South African music.

The 2021 SAMAs will be hybrid virtual event with a small number of guests in attendance due to COVID-19 protocols. Entries for nominations opened on November 26th of 2020 and will close on January 31st 2021.