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Review: New Scorpion Kings and TRESOR Album Takes Amapiano To New Spheres

Pioneering amapiano duo Scorpion Kings, Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa, together with pop maven TRESOR strike gold on their joint album 'Rumble In The Jungle'.

Scorpion Kings, the duo made up of producers Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa, continues to spearhead and make efforts to take amapiano to new spheres. They are part of a handful of the genre's acts who have performed outside South Africa — in countries such as Tanzania and Kenya — where the yanos is proving to be popular. Kabza De Small's 2020 album I Am The King of Amapiano: Sweet and Dust features Nigerian heavyweights and recent Grammy winners Wizkid and Burna Boy. "For me, it's like we are just expanding the amapiano wave so other people can reach it and we can grow the music," DJ Maphorisa said in the album's official press statement.

For their newly released album, Rumble In The Jungle, Scorpion Kings teamed up with South African-based Congolese pop maven TRESOR. The album shares its name with the iconic boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali which took place in 1974 at the stadium Stade Tata Raphaël Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire). A collaborative project between TRESOR and Scorpion Kings is, in itself, a championship event and a historic moment — a timestamp of where amapiano as a genre currently stands.

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Photo via Platoon.

Interview: DJ Maphorisa Talks About Scorpion Kings' Success

The star South African DJ and producer — also one half of the Scorpion Kings alongside Kabza De Small — on their recent full-album collaboration with TRESOR and the evolution of amapiano.

On October 30, 1974 — in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo — 32-year-old Muhammad Ali beat 25-year-old George Foreman in the eighth round of the Rumble in the Jungle boxing match, reclaiming his title as heavyweight champion of the world. While amapiano champs Scorpion Kings don't need to reclaim any titles, their latest album Rumble In The Jungle — which invites Congolese singer TRESOR into the ring — draws inspiration from that fateful day.

After going round-for-round with Scorpion Kings, The Return Of The Scorpion Kings and Once Upon a Time in Lockdown, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small released Rumble In The Jungle on April 9 this year. The 14-track album sees TRESOR, a three-time Best Pop Album winner at the South African Music Awards, lend his smooth, soulful voice to the amapiano sound the duo has perfected over the past few years. The two singles released so far, "Funu" and "Folosade," have hinted at the direction the Scorpion Kings have taken on their latest offering — and how they want to expand the amapiano genre.

Maphorisa, who's long earned his belt for pumping out hits for almost a decade — from Uhuru's "Y-tjukutja" and Mafikizolo's "Khona" to his own "Oncamnce" featuring Stilo Magolide, Kwesta and Zingah — spoke to OkayAfrica over Zoom. His studio has become a legendary haven for artists, both up-and-coming and established, that pass through it — including Kabza De Small, whose I Am The King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust helped introduce amapiano to a wider audience.

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