Whether you are in Accra, Lagos, or Johannesburg, you’ve probably heard a new sub-genre of music that uniquely combines the uptempo rhythms of Afrobeats with the catchy midtempo beats of Amapiano in a single song. Although this sound doesn’t have a clear name yet, it can easily be identified in most of the Afrobeats songs produced in late 2020 and during this year. This sound charting playlists globally is heavily influenced by mainstream Amapiano music.
As some of the main DJ’s pushing Amapiano in South Africa, its popularity in the rest of the continent and globally, is connected to the music producers like Major League DJz, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza de small make.
Major League DJz and DJ MAphorisa Set
at SANDbOX Beach Club
Dance cannot be separated from both Amapiano and Afrobeats. Its role in Amapiano and the culture surrounding it is amplified by entertainers like South Africa’s Uncle Vinny who are at the forefront of it.
A day after their first performance in Ghana, selling out Sandbox Beach Club with a surprise appearance from DJ Maphorisa, Banele from Major League DJz spoke about how he thinks amapiano will impact on the rest of the continent.
“I think this is one genre that can bring the African continent together. I think South Africa (has) always distanced itself from Africa as a continent. They never made music for the continent. They just made music for South Africa. So Amapiano is going to bridge that gap. Make Africa one, and not South Africa versus Africa.” Banele said.
Speaking about his hopes for the future of Amapiano, Banele shared how he feels more DJ’s need to join the movement for it to grow. He also expressed the fact that it creates a unique opportunity for African DJs.
“I think as DJs; I don’t think there are a lot of big like African DJs, you know, like black coffee. So this is an opportunity for African DJs to come out and move into the dance market. Not just the Afrobeats market but the dance market as a whole.” he said
Selling out both of their shows in Lagos and Accra during their first West Africa tour, the twin brother duo also gave their opinions on the new sound that combines Amapiano and Afrobeats. For them, this merger was inevitable.
“Afrobeats is African. Amapiano is also African. So they have to meet somewhere. So I think that’s where they’re going to meet. And I think it’s meeting up; it’s just about getting (other) African vocals on amapiano music and vice versa.” said Banele from Major League DJz.
Fresh off being nominated for the South African Music Awards record of the year for Amanikiniki, a collaboration between them, MFR Souls, Bontle Smith, and Kamo Mphela on MFR Souls latest album Musical Kings, Major League DJz had advice for producers making Amapiano. For Banele, producers need to understand the culture behind the genre.
“I think understanding the way to play it makes it easier for you to make it, and (also) understanding the culture behind it. Then we can all build, you know. I am not saying that because you are from Ghana, you can’t make the music; just understand it so that you can add your flavour to it as well.” he said.
Major League DJz was joined by Uncle Vinny, a 19-year-old South African presenter and entertainer who has taken the industry by storm throughout their West Africa tour.
Beaming as he speaks, Uncle Vinny shared how he feels Afrobeats and Amapiano merging is a sign of African Unity.
“I think it’s very dope because seeing other nations jumping on it shows that actually, this is a real sound that’s coming… I feel like it’s (also) them embracing it in a different way. I think we need all the producers to work together so we can make it one movement for Africa and take it to the top,” Vinny said.
Although Kwaito is often credited as birthing amapiano, Major League DJz and Uncle Vinny agreed that Bacardi, another genre from South Africa, has a bigger influence on the mainstream Amapiano made today. Listening to a popular Bacardi song, Township funk, by one of its pioneers DJ Mujava, the similarities between Amapiano and Bacardi are undeniable.
In comparison to other genres, Amapiano is dominated by producers. It is also a very collaborative space. Speaking about DJs they’ve worked with, Major League DJz said LuuDaDeejay has been one of their favourites and is worth paying attention to in the industry.
Uncle Vinny Poses for a picture during the Accra section of Major League DJz tour.
Amapiano, AfroBeats, and Dance Challenges
Although the brothers are happy to see the two genres merging, for Banele, it’s important to remember that Amapiano and Afrobeats play two different roles in the African Music Industry.
“It’s important for the two to meet, but you need to understand that Afrobeats is a performance industry and Amapiano is a dance industry. So you need these two different markets. Afrobeats and Amapiano are two different markets. And that’s what you shouldn’t get confused about.” said Banele.
With Over 22 million views on his #unclevinnychallenge dance on Tiktok and over 72 million views and counting for the hashtag #unclevinny associated with the challenge, Uncle Vinny said that in his opinion, dance challenges play a crucial role in making Amapiano songs popular.
“I think the role of dance is a cultural thing. You see, in South Africa people just like dancing. So people are always coming up with new dance moves and trying to experiment with whatever they are comfortable with. That’s the way it’s built. You know, I mean, it plays a huge role, because it makes it easy for us to listen to music. And react to it. The only way we can react to it is (through) dance.” Vinny said.
The Importance of Collaboration in The Music Industry
Although he is only 19, Uncle Vinny has been in the music industry for more than two years. He is also the youngest presenter to host the South African Hip-hop awards. Responding to whether being in the industry so young intimidates him, Vinny says he believes the future of music lies in people of all ages uniting to push the music coming out of South Africa and the continent.
“I feel like more youth must come inside. And everybody must be encouraged. I think young people must collaborate more with everyone so they can make it easier for us and we can all connect. It doesn’t have to be a barrier of ages. You guys just have to connect … Let’s be united and take the sound to the top,” Uncle Vinny said.
Describing their new album’s direction, Major League DJz said it would be completely different from their last two projects. According to the Duo, the new album will also likely be dropping before the end of August.
If you are interested in listening to songs that combine Amapiano and Afrobeats, you can check out our curated Omopiano mix on Spotify and Apple Music.