One of the most significant contributors to Africa’s recent global music expansion is the South African Amapiano sound. This new sub-genre, like gqom, is a music style derived from kwaito, which has roots in Afro-pop and traditional Zulu musical heritage. The Amapiano sound is a fusion of deep house, jazz, and lounge music, with synths, airy pads, and extensive percussive basslines. More importantly, it is distinguished by piano melodies and Kwaito basslines. The sub-genre emerged from South African townships, particularly Pretoria, a small city just outside Johannesburg. This unique sound has existed since 2016, but most of Africa and the world became aware of it in 2020, following the release of “Sponono” by Kabza De Small, which featured homegrown now-global Nigerian stars Wizkid and Burna Boy. Amapiano has since taken off, with the likes of USA artist Masego embracing the sound.
The People’s Prince
Championing the sound alongside local heroes DJ Maphorisa, Focalistic, and Major League Djz, is a two-time South African Music Awards nominee and composer, Aymos. Over the past 12 months, he has had a meteoric rise thanks to his contribution to the success of Amapiano. Aymos has made appearances on some of 2020’s biggest amapiano tracks, including ‘eMcimbini,’ with Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa, as well as game-changing collaborations with Juls and Karen Nyame KG from the UK. Born and raised in Tembisa, Aymos discovered his talents as a singer and music lover in the church, where he also honed his skills as a composer and artist. He quickly rose to the top of the industry, first as a backing vocalist and then as a session musician, working with Mas Musiq on the phenomenally successful ‘Zaka’. Last month, the people’s prince of Amapiano released his 14-track sophomore album “Yimi Lo,” which introduced the world to his distinct afro-yano sound.
“Yimi Lo”, in my opinion, is one of 2021’s most refined amapiano soundscapes, thanks to its lush melodies, soulful Afropop sensibilities, and Aymos’ sublime vocal performances. The lead singles, ‘Jemeni,’ ‘Risasekile,’ and ‘Ababuyanga,’ received over half a million Spotify streams prior to the project’s release. As a body of work, the album is soulful, lyrically driven, and percussive, with productions from regular collaborators Kabza De Small, Major League DJz, Josiah De Disciple, DBN Gogo, and others, as well as guest appearances from vocalists Sekiwe and Boohle, prolific rapper Focalistic, and Afro-house music luminary Zakes Bantwini. Over resounding amapiano instrumentals, the project’s profoundly personal approach covers everything from love and heartbreak to aspirations as an artist to find an identity. As Aymos progresses through the album, he becomes more open about his experience as a young artist attempting to break into the industry. The album is Aymos’ manifesto, with slants of lush Afropop and soulful house that will keep listeners wanting more, whether it’s the tongue-in-cheek ‘Lyf Styl,’ the braggadocious ‘Amapaperbag,’ or ‘Risasekile,’ about rekindling.
Aymos explains the inspiration behind “Yimi Lo”, which translates to “this is who I am,” saying, “The music on this album is inspired by my years so far in the industry and all the ups and downs I experienced to get here.”
The Journey to ‘Yimi Lo’
The singer mentioned he was on the verge of quitting music because he faced many challenges that compelled him to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. ‘Yimi Lo’ is a guide to rediscovering his values. In the album’s creation process, he learned to appreciate human beauty and accept people for who they are. When asked about the album’s theme he says, “this album celebrates love, warmth, the spirit of Ubuntu, and, of course, good vibes!”. Aymos has gone on to establish himself as one of the top amapiano artists in the years since. The rising star is only getting started!
Listen to ‘Yimi Lo’ below:
Check out our YANOS playlist, guest-curated by Aymos, now live on our Apple Music and Spotify pages.