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Op-Ed: Who Will Introduce South Africa’s Amapiano to The World?

The South African genre amapiano could get introduced to the world by Nigerian and Ghanaian artists.

In Rema's new single "Women", one picks up elements of the popular South African house music subgenre amapiano. The song is however produced by Ozedikus and Burssbrain, not South African producers as one would expect. Neither does "Women" feature a South African artist.

Nigerian producer, DJ and artist Kiddominant's latest single "eWallet" borrows from amapiano and has birthed a new genre that he has coined as "South Afrobeats". The song features Cassper Nyovest, and is inspired by the South African lifestyle. Kiddominant has spent some time in South Africa and produced "Fela In Versace" and "Jika" for AKA.

Rising to mainstream prominence in 2018, amapiano, which is the most loved sound in South Africa at the moment, has been co-opted by some of the country's biggest stars (DJ Maphorisa, Cassper Nyovest, Busiswa, Oskido etc.) and gave birth to more stars (Kabza De Small, Sha Sha, MFR Souls etc.).

In 2019, DJ Maphorisa joined forces with Kabza De Small — one of the subgenre's pioneers—to form the duo Scorpion Kings. Their self-titled debut album earned them eight nominations at the South African Music Awards, the country's biggest award show. The duo managed to win the Best Produced Album award alongside, Vigro Deep and MFR Souls, who co-produced a few songs on the Scorpion Kings' self-titled album.

Samthing Soweto's critically acclaimed album Isiphithiphithi consist of a reasonable number of amapiano songs, and it earned him eight nominations at the SAMAs, including the prestigious Record of The Year nod for his song "Akulaleki" featuring Sha Sha, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small. He walked away with the award for Best Afro Pop album.

MFR Souls's breakthrough single, "Love You Tonight" featuring Sha Sha, Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa, has gone gold in South Africa (an excess of 10 000 units sold). The duo is credited as one of the pioneers of the subgenre.

Apple Music recently announced that Kabza's double-disc album I Am the King of Amapiano Sweet & Dust is the biggest South African album in terms of first day and first week numbers. It is important to note that this is the first album from him (and Scorpion Kings) that was released straight to streaming platforms instead of free music sharing sites first.

There have been a notable number of songs that incorporate amapiano, such as Dr Peppa's "What It Is" and Focalistic's "Christian Dior" — which merge amapiano with hip-hop.

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