In the vibrant tapestry of musical genres, Amapiano has emerged as a rhythmic force. The South African genre has captured the hearts of dance and afrobeats lovers alike as it plays in the ropes of both. From Johannesburg to Lagos to London Amapiano is the new kid on the block. Captivating not only the bustling metropolises but also finding a thriving home in the heartbeat of second cities. As the genre continues to spread its infectious beats, we delve into the unique narrative of Amapiano’s growth in these lesser-explored urban landscapes and explore the significant role transit cities, exemplified by global hubs like Dubai, play in the cultural assimilation that fuels its expansion.
Transit cities are like lively meeting points that bring together many cultures. These cities, often characterized by their cosmopolitan nature, serve as melting pots where sounds from different corners of the world converge, creating a rich tapestry of musical expression. Dubai, with its strategic location as a global crossroads, stands as a prime example of a transit city playing a pivotal role in shaping and disseminating cultural phenomena.
As the global COVID-19 pandemic loosened its hold on the world, Dubai became a popular stopover for Amapiano DJs and musicians travelling to the UK and USA for events. To serve amapiano fans in Dubai one collective took on the herculean task of building the first Amapiano event series in the UAE.
House of Yanos is a Dubai-based events company started by southern African friends living in the UAE. Motivated by the lack of spaces for African expats in Dubai and the desire to recreate party moments in their new home that looked and felt like the ones back home, the crew created House of Yanos. In the last 3 years since its inception, the House has hosted Uncle Waffles, Focalistic, and opened for GRAMMY-nominated musician Asake in Dubai. Their sold-out events are coveted experiences for people of Colour in the UAE.
In this exclusive interview, with House of Yanos, we sit down with pioneers and enthusiasts to unravel the untold stories of Amapiano’s journey through the second cities. From the rhythmic streets to the pulsating nightlife, we explore how these locales, influenced by the global connectivity facilitated by transit cities like Dubai, have become fertile grounds for the genre to flourish.
How did House of Yanos start?
House of Yanos was initially crafted as a dedicated space to centre the pan-African sound, ensuring it remained untouched by gentrification, allowing the rich sounds of Africa to be fully appreciated. Moreover, it aims to highlight various elements such as food, design, and entertainment that synergize harmoniously to craft celebratory experiences.
Would you say COVID-19 impacted the growth of the platforms?
We agree! It offered us a chance to concentrate, realign our focus, and establish a clear objective to carve a space for ourselves despite previously closed doors.
How have second cities like Dubai embraced the Amapiano genre, and what unique contributions have they made to its growth?
The genre has experienced rapid growth, largely due to its online discovery in this internet-driven era. It’s thrilling to see newcomers exploring our Afrocentric and inclusive event, where we introduce them to various sounds like Afrobeats, Afro House, Gqom, and many more. Consequently, this surge has increased the demand for emerging artists to secure international bookings and propel their careers globally.
Are there specific artists or local influencers in these second cities who have played a significant role in popularizing Amapiano as well as HOY?
The majority of DJs in our Sound System collective have been championing this sound since 2018/19, before it gained widespread popularity. Among those we confidently vouch for are Obeekhay, Capitano GB, Cboy, and Maro.
What challenges and opportunities has the Amapiano scene faced in these locations compared to major urban centres?
We believe in the importance of creative freedom for our vision, fostering spaces where we can express ourselves without facing negative generalizations or stereotypes associated with people of colour.
Can you share any notable events or festivals in Dubai that significantly affected your growth?
Our inaugural event, The Family Meeting, held in the P7 Arena parking lot, stands out as a pivotal moment. It signalled a collective call to everyone who has been part of our journey, marking our reinvention with a renewed purpose following the COVID hiatus. The sold-out Uncle Waffles show with 1300 people. The nod from SOLE DXB, XP Music Saudi Arabia, BOXOUT FM India and of course opening for notable artists like Asake, Oman Lay and Rema at Coca-Cola Arena.
How has the local culture and lifestyle influenced the evolution of Amapiano music in these areas?
It has instilled in us a profound sense of patience in our curation, recognizing our role in educating others about music and our culture. Engaging with music online versus experiencing it firsthand are vastly different encounters.
What does the future look like for HOY?
The future of House Of Yanos will continue to break barriers and create safe spaces for people of colour to enjoy their music unapologetically and open to the rest of the world to experience it.
House of Yanos takes over our The Yanos playlist with the Ampaino bangers by DJs and musicians that graced their stages in 2023 + unmissable tracks. Listen below: