Amapiano whets musical appetite


Botswana’s music industry is known for its ability to constantly draw inspiration from foreign sound elements, especially those from South Africa. Just like in the past years 2019 is no different.

A new sound that originates from South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria is taking over the local airwaves with partygoers and revellers not able to get enough of it. 

This sound is known as ‘amapiano’ and it is a mix of deep house, gqom all mixed in with the jazzy, soulful sound of keys of a piano.

Similar to sub-genres like gqom, amapiano has sometimes been called ghetto or ratchet, but it has been gaining major grip lately, gradually building its value and solidifying its place in the music pyramid where trap and other genres have been on top.

Artists are throwing in a spanner in the culture of house music and they are inventing a new wave in the music scene altogether.

Baby Are You Coming by Que Deep Matured Soundz featuring Edgar Thee Mc & Lindiwe dominates the airwaves much to the delight of music fans across the country. 

From combi rides in town to chill sessions outside the city, amapiano is altering the sound of house music not only locally but also internationally. To get more insight on the trending sub-genre, Arts & Culture spoke to local DJ and music producer, Masego Ntshontsi popularly known as Darkboy Masey, who has grown amapiano in Botswana in leaps and bounds.  Before venturing into amapiano Darkboy Masey had already scored collaborations with big SA vocalists like Mckenzie of Monate Potleng fame and house songstress, Mpumi.

He said as one of the first artists to bring the genre to Botswana, it really means a lot.

“To me it says a lot about my vision, reading and understanding of the music game, as well as my influence, I can gladly say I’m one of those who pioneered the sound in Botswana,” he added.

Explaining what amapiano is to the untrained ear, Darkboy Masey said to him it is a new age sound consisting of house, kwaito and funk elements, dominated by a piano.

Amapiano is rapidly changing the house scene in South Africa so Darkboy Masey was quick to say that the same thing is actually already happening locally because SA is Botswana’s major tastemaker when it comes to music trends, fashion and entertainment in general.  For someone who has already released amapiano songs, he also said it is a genre that he feels a lot of talent can relate to from a kwaito artist to a house DJ.  “People should be open-minded so that they may explore things that are beyond their imagination.

Amapiano and Gqom are forces to reckon with because they are not just music trends, they represent a lifestyle,” he highlighted.

He also mentioned that amapiano and kwaito shared the same roots and were both nurtured by street culture.

“I believe so because kwaito has an influence on amapiano, there are certain elements in the amapiano sound that stems from kwaito and they both represent the kasi lifestyle.”   

Darkboy Masey said even though he has already released two amapiano songs, some are yet to be released, and he is still working on a lot of music.

“People should embrace amapiano for what it is and draw inspiration from it,” he said.

Another artist, DJ KSB who has worked with many South African artists like Dr Malinga, said he first heard amapiano sound in 2015.  “It has that dance vibe with a piano sound and back then I tried to study it but I couldn’t understand it so I decided to observe how it would evolve,” he recalled.

DJ KSB, who was staying in SA at the time said he then listened to artists that had been pushing amapiano like Team Mosha, Zing Master and Pencil.

“Amapiano in SA is different, some of it has that soulful house with the jazzy feel while the other sound is full of vocals,” he highlighted.

DJ KSB said the trending amapiano songs are usually the ones with vocals.

“It’s like the artists were playing when they wrote the songs, but it is music and it represents street culture,” he added.

He gave an example of a banger called Ur Sheetee by Kabza De Small and Leehleza featuring Moonchild Sanelly.  DJ KSB said similar songs cannot be played on radio, but they are trending.  He admitted that the genre had been struggling to get its spot in mainstream music for so long.  “Gqom has been trending for the past two years, but this year will be the amapiano year. People will start dancing and listening to it.  “In Channel O and MTV Base they are now giving slots to people who are doing amapiano for free,” he said.

DJ KSB said the music industry leaders are urging     people on to feel the vibe of the genre consequently pushing it.

South Africans started amapiano and gqom and from one household to another and Batswana are already following the movement. 

While people have their own taste, other than amapiano and other sub-genres, sometimes all they need to do is sit back and enjoy the music because truth be told, it has set tongues wagging in anticipation of more of this amapiano stuff.

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