Hailing from the streets of South Africa and dominating dance venues around the world, Amapiano has quickly become a mainstay genre in music. The name is derived from Zulu, which means “the pianos”. It is a mélange of soul, jazz, hip-hop, funk, deep house, piano and bass line melodies. The streets of South Africa gave birth to this genre, which now dominates dance floors, streaming sites, TikTok and music festivals. As reported by CNN in 2022, the Amapiano Grooves playlist on Spotify has over fifty million streams worldwide.
There is a great deal of uncertainty and ambiguity regarding Amapiano’s origin and rise, with its musical roots tracing back to several cities in South Africa. Amapiano producer, DJ and MC Mark Khoza compared it to the sounds one might hear on a church piano. Veteran South African music producer Oskido, via the new BBC Radio 1Xtra’s new documentary about Amapiano music ‘This Is Amapiano’, said that Amapiano had its origins in the Kwaito style of music.
The extended version of the documentary is available on iPlayer HERE
After this little introduction to Amapiano, here are five sets that you must see and hear to experience this music genre!
TxC Boiler Room London
To celebrate the sound of Amapiano, Boiler Room teamed up with some of South Africa’s most exciting DJs and music producers in 2021. Artists Kamo Mphela, Mr. JazziQ, TxC, Cassper Nyovest, and DBN Gogo performed at the session, which took place on the rooftop of The Standard Hotel in London, England. Amapiano duo TxC, consisting of DJs Tarryn Reid and Clairise Hefke, kicked off the 2021 Boiler Room edition in London. The duo performed a B2B setlist which included fifteen tracks and lasted almost an hour. This performance currently has over 1.4 million views on YouTube.
For more Amapiano on BoilerRoom click here
DBN Gogo Live Balcony Mix
Twin brothers Bandile and Banele More, better known as Major League DJz, founded The Live Balcony Mix to highlight up-and-coming South African artists through online sessions. These virtual sessions played a crucial role in introducing new music and promoting different music styles, including Amapiano, Kwaito, Afropop, etc. The Black Brick Hotel in Johannesburg has hosted multiple of these sessions.
Mandisa Radebe, better known as DBN Gogo / De-Ben Gogo, performed an hour-long B2B set with Major League DJz in 2021. This was the Balcony Mix’s eighth session in season two. A picturesque Johannesburg view, the performance from early evening to sunset, and impromptu dance routines are all included in the hour-long event.
Did You Know?
Music streaming service Beatport recognized Amapiano as its own genre in April 2022. Their statement read, “To support this growing community of artists, labels, and fans, Beatport will offer Amapiano its own space to flourish, as Amapiano tracks that were previously categorized as Afro House, Deep House, and Dance/Electro Pop will now be clearly and properly labeled.”
DJ Maphorisa The Lab LDN
When it comes to House, Amapiano, and Afropop music, Themba Sekowe, best known as DJ Maphorisa, is one of the most well-known names. For a purely Amapiano takeover at The Lab London, he performed a show that lasted an hour in March 2022. DJ Maphorisa’s setlist commenced with a smooth mix of ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, setting the tone for the rest of the evening. His track list also included ‘Izolo’ ‘Rambo’, ‘Khushu Khusu’ and ‘Mak’shoni Langa’. There are presently over 240k views of this Amapiano takeover on YouTube.
Uncle Waffles Boiler Room X Ballantine’s True Music Studios
DJ Lungelihle Zwane’s, who goes by Uncle Waffles, career got a push when she was noticed for her energy, dance moves, music, and her skills on the deck. Her career can only continue to soar higher as she is yet in her early 20s and already a standout in Amapiano music.
In February 2022, she gave an hour-long performance at Ballantine’s True Music Studios in Johannesburg. Her setlist included her 2020 release ‘Tanzania’, and mixes of ‘Tick’, ‘uMlando‘, and ‘Dipatje Tsa Felo’. While performing, Uncle Waffles showed off some of her dance moves while surrounded by the audience and fans.
Additionally, view Uncle Waffles Live at Tshwanefontein by clicking here.
MAJOR LEAGUE DJz
The previously mentioned Major League DJz, who are undoubtedly one of the hottest performers in the Ampiano genre, rounds off our selection of five. In August 2021, this DJ duo made its mark at The Lab LDN with an outstanding performance. The hour and the fifteen-minute set have received over 249k views on YouTube. The opening of the setlist is a jazzy mix of piano keys with ‘Allume Et Eteint’, with renditions of tracks ‘It Ain’t Me’, ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, ‘Bopha’, and ‘Government’.
GO CHECK OUT THE VIBE LIVE ON YOUTUBE RIGHT NOW.. LETS GOO ????
PIANO TO THE WORLD ?”
For more Amapiano music:
Check out Groove Cartel – a YouTube channel run by DJ Ash Mopedi that showcases the best talent in South African musical entertainment.
Amapiano Documentaries You Can Watch:
SHAYA! Amapiano Documentary (2019) – currently available on YouTube. It delves into the background of Amapiano music, way of life, and culture in South Africa.
Freedom Sounds: From Kwaito to AmaPiano – also available on Spotify’s YouTube Channel. It examines the influence of Kwaito and Amapiano music genres on South African culture and daily life.
Moonchild Sanelly’s ‘Amapiano, South Africa’s Sound of Freedom‘ – an informative short film about Amapiano.