The best amapiano songs of the year so far featuring De Mthuda, Kwiish SA, Mr JazziQ, DBN Gogo, Focalistic and more.
Ending off 2020 on a high, amapiano has continued its dominance over the past six months. Whether it be 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 the country, despite the pandemic and its regulations on public events. Streaming data and charts also show that amapiano is the most streamed genre at the moment. A majority of the 10 most streamed South African songs of 2021 by the country's youth on Spotify were amapiano.
There's been growth in global interest on the genre. More artists and producers, outside the genre and South Africa, have dabbled and incorporated the elements of the sound into their music. Amapiano artists and deejays are getting gigs across the continent.
More talented and exciting vocalists and producers have emerged. The genre's pioneers and stalwarts have maintained their supremacy and continue to expand its soundscapes as it evolves in real-time.
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Below, we round up our picks of the best amapiano songs of 2021 so far, listed in no particular order.
Mr JazziQ x Kabza De Small x Lady Du “Woza” (featuring Boohle)
Mr JazziQ, who Spotify SA recently announced as the most streamed South African artist by Gen Z audiences, had a crazy 2020 and is continuing his run. For his first release of 2021, he enlisted "Piano King" Kabza De Small, Lady Du and Boohle for the inviting "Woza". The track served as the lead single to JazziQ's latest album Party With The English and has been doing really well on streaming charts since its release. A clip of three guys dancing to the track outside of the White House in Washington DC recently went viral, which subsequently resulted in a dance challenge.
Soa Mattrix “Emsotra” (featuring Sir Trill)
Soa Mattrix, alongside Soulful G and Shaun 101, is responsible for one of last year's top performing amapiano songs "Uthando". In late February, the producer finally unleashed his album Sounds of Africa, which spawned the hits "Stoko", "Emsotra" and "Buyisa". All three hits feature Sir Trill, who has been unstoppable since the start of 2021 and choosing one song from the album is a difficult task. Our pick, "Emsotra", describes the inescapable fun that goes down in Soweto, which is affectionately referred to as Msotra.
Semi Tee & Mdu aka TRP “Isingisi” (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. The album has great replay value and is filled with sleepers, but "Isingisi" is a definite standout. Sir Trill's enthralling vocals and cheeky lyrics match the fuzzy 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.
DBN Gogo x Blaqnick x MasterBlaq “Khuza Gogo” (featuring Mpura, Ama Avenger and M.J)
Off the strength and success of their previous singles "French Kiss" and "Whistling Man", DBN Gogo and production duo Blaqnick & MasterBlaq teamed up for "Khuza Gogo". 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. 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.
Kwiish SA “LiyoShona” (featuring Malumnator, Njelic & De Mthuda)
Kwiish SA's breakout song "Iskhathi (Gong Gong)" was pivotal in the broader mainstream acceptance of amapiano in early 2019, so much that some people casually referred to the sound as "gong gong". After spending 2020 relatively quiet hits-wise, this year the producer made a huge comeback with "LiyoShona". Roping in other hitmakers in Malumnator, Njelic and De Mthuda, it's not surprising that the song is a banger. Voicing their pain caused by an unfaithful lover, Malumnator and Njelic exchange heartfelt vocals over the mellow production by Kwiish and De Mthuda.
*Busta 929 “Ekseni” (featuring Boohle and Zuma)
Busta 929 released "Ekseni" as a follow-up to the platinum-selling smash hit "Umsebenzi Wethu". Enlisting the talents of vocalists Boohle and Zuma, "Ekseni" sees Busta step out as a lead solo act, 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.
Junior De Rocka & Lady Du “Catalia” (featuring Mr JazziQ, Mellow & Sleazy)
Vocalist Lady Du has been riding on a high horse since getting recognition after her contribution on Mr JazziQ's "Superstar", last August. Since then she has been a regular feature on some of the biggest amapiano hits. She closed off 2020 with the DBN Gogo-assisted "Dakiwe" and opened this year with "Catalia". On "Catalia," Lady Du, who also got engaged in August, threatens to slap any woman that touches her man and also details that her life is going accordingly and things are being in her favour.
Killer Kau & Mr JazziQ “Amaneighbour” (featuring Reece Madlisa, Zuma and ThackzinDJ)
Killer Kau has come a long way from being a viral sensation to becoming a certified hitmaker. The "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 by the addictive chants laced by Killer Kau, Reece Madlisa and Zuma. The song is a street anthem and gets amapiano lovers dancing at groove.
De Mthuda “John Wick” (featuring Sir Trill & Da Muziqal Chef)
De Mthuda's "Shesha Geza" was the amapiano soundtrack for many fans in 2019. From that iconic song to "Bade", "Ebumnandini", "Dakwa Yini" and "uMsholozi", Mthuda continues to showcase his unwavering hit making abilities. On "John Wick", Sir Trill likens De Mthuda to the character of John Wick played by Keanu Reeves. If the movie's trilogy has shown us anything, John Wick is undefeated and whoever comes at him won't win.
De Mthuda “Abekho Ready” (Maplankeng Reshuffle) (featuring Sir Trill & Da Muziqal Chef)
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, understood the assignment and delivered.
*Busta 929 “Paradise” (featuring Miano & 20ty Soundz)
Busta's impact since his entry into the game is undisputed. His debut solo 6-track EP Undisputed is filled with bangers, and the energetic "Paradise" 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".
Focalistic x Mr JazziQ “GUPTA” (featuring Lady Du & Mellow and Sleazy)
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. This aspirational song came after the release of Mr JazziQ's album Party With The English and the success of Focalistic's "Ke Star Remix". The two reportedly have an upcoming EP together and Focalistic has also revealed that he has another EP with Nigerian superstar Davido, as well as unreleased music with Tanzania's Diamond Platnumz and Ghana's Stonebwoy.
Kamo Mphela “Nkulunkulu”
In late March, Kamo Mphela delivered the lead single and title track of her independently released EP Nkulunkulu. The song, whose title translates to "God", is essentially a catchy prayer for wealth, happiness and a life full of blessings and prosperity. The tracks' striking visuals, which contain a lot of choreographed dancing, has inspired a number of Tik Tok videos and, to date, 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".
DJ Obza “Idlozi Lami” (featuring Nkosazana & DJ Freetz)
Emerging last year with "Mang'Dakiwe", DJ Obza maintains his momentum with the release of the new single "Idlozi Lami". The song's powerful lyrics "ndibulela idlozi lami" translate to "I'm thankful to my ancestors". Nkosazana's ethereal voice is fitting to the song's messaging and it sits perfectly on the beat crafted by DJ Obza and DJ Freetz.
Musa Keys “Vula Mlomo” (featuring Sir Trill & Nobantu Vilakazi)
Musa Keys' "Vula Mlomo" is a marriage of the chilled, vocal and sgubhu-centric pockets of amapiano. While Sir Trill's romantic vocals carry the track, it's Nobantu Vilakazi's signature and addictive chant that take it to a trance-inducing peak. "Vula Mlomo" has topped the charts at multiple major radio stations.
Josiah De Disciple & Kabza De Small “Manuel”
Taken from Josiah De Disciple's latest album Spirit of Makoela Vol 2: The Reintroduction, "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.
DJ Maphorisa x Tyler ICU “Banyana” (featuring Sir Trill, Daliwonga & Kabza De Small)
Two of the most sought-after amapiano vocalists dovetail on the DJ Maphorisa and Tyler ICU cut "Banyana", taken from their joint EP of the same name. The song interpolates 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.
Boohle “Hamba Nobani” (featuring Busta 929, Reece Madlisa & Zuma)
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.
Cassper Nyovest “Siyathandana” (featuring Boohle and Abidoza)
Versatile rapper Cassper Nyovest unleashed his Boohle and Abidoza-assisted single "Siyathandana", off his upcoming amapiano project Sweet & Short 2.0. While Nyovest renders a good verse, it's Boohle's breathtaking vocals that steal the show. The singer-songwriter interpolates 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.
Mdu aka TRP “16 Inch”
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 inclusion of Busta 929's music on this list is in no way endorsing his recent inappropriate association with minors.
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