808s & Log Drums: How South African Hip-Hop and Amapiano Fell in Love

As South African hip-hop strives to regain broad mainstream prominence, more rappers and producers are tapping into and incorporating amapiano elements into their music.

K.O's latest single "K:HOVA" has amapiano sensibilities. The veteran emcee employed the talents of producer Lunatik, the architect of the skhanda rap sound — a combination of hip-hop and kwaito — which K.O pioneered in the mid-2010s. On "K:HOVA", Lunatik sprinkled amapiano's customary log drum and trumpet over a sauntering kwaito beat.

Responding to a Twitter fan who confessed his love for the "new amapiano wave ish", K.O responded: "Amapiano is super current and unashamedly SA and that's what I stand for as well in my music." K.O's first experimentation with amapiano was in his 2019 album PTY UnLTD on the song "4AM". The direction was typical of K.O's inclination to always progress with the times.

In 2019, amapiano had just broken into the mainstream. Yet today, it is the most popular subgenre of South African dance music — as championed by artists and producers such as Kabza De Small, Kamo Mphela, De Mthuda, MFR Souls, Mr JazziQ, Josiah De Disciples among countless others.

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K.O Releases New Single ‘K: HOVA’ Produced by Lunatik

K.O teams up with producer Lunatik for new track "K: HOVA".