Nigeria’s Afrobeats and South Africa’s Amapiano are arguably the most famous music genres in Africa, and perhaps the world, right now. Afrobeats has spread rapidly across the continent with its catchy but familiar construction.
It's gone from making hits at home to spurring the Grammys to add categories meant to honor African musicians, showing it has become a global sensation. Further down south, Amapiano is walking in the footsteps that Afrobeats has already made.
Artists like Focalistic, Abo Mvelo, MFR Souls, Tyler ICU, and Kamo Mphela are famous for popularizing the jazzy variant of house and kwaito music.
We know we have tuned in to the vibrant South African genre when we hear the signature log drum, high-pitched piano melodies, basslines, and low-tempo rhythms backed up by synths and percussions.
The South African Sound Rises
Since 2019, Amapiano has gained popularity quite fast. Statistics show it has increased digital streams and chart successes in South Africa and beyond.
In 2021, the South Africa Amapiano Music Awards dedicated to the genre was introduced. Since then, Amapiano dances have been popularized, especially among young audiences on various social media platforms.
Artists like Burna Boy, Rema, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, and Yemi Alade have profound international recognition. These African stars compete to make the best albums and get nominated for various international awards.
In 2023 alone, Burna Boy and Rema have won several awards for their Pan-African and Afro-pop talent. Rema will go down in history as being the first artist from Africa to win the Best Afrobeats Award at the MTV VMAs. He won this award following his highly acclaimed hit song “Calm Down” with Selena Gomez.
It is a matter of time until Amapiano becomes an internationally recognized genre like its cousin from West Africa. Significant progress has already been made following the addition of the genre into Beatport’s platform with its section of playlists and charts.
Amapiano to the World
South Africa has proved great potential in the global music scene, with Tyla making a breakthrough smash with her hit song “Water”.
The song, which provoked a viral Bacardi dance challenge on TikTok, made it to the top 10 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart recently and raced all the way to the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Amapiano banger has already broken a long-time record by becoming the first song by a South African to appear on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in over 5 decades.
The fact that the song is charting at number one in New Zealand while still being a top hit in the UK, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands shows how much Amapiano has the potential to compete shoulder-to-shoulder with Afrobeats at the international level.
The Economic Hurdles in the African Music Industry
Despite having great successes and struggling to stay relevant and appreciated, the two industries still face some tough economic challenges. Both the Nigerian and South African music platforms still grapple with significant economic challenges that have slowed down what would have been a rapid growth of their genres.
To start with, being an artist has its fair share of challenges because, well, it's being an artist.
Much capital is needed to develop their career, promote music, and invest in high-quality production. African-based streaming services such as Boomplay aren’t enough to provide the artists with the worldwide target audience required to give them international recognition.
Many have had to make viral songs that do well on TikTok to break into the industry and gain widespread recognition through dance challenge videos.
Celebrity Endorsements and Partnerships
Capital and funding are vital reasons why rising stars who have burst onto the scene look to get celebrity endorsements with lucrative deals with companies that will ensure they have another source of income aside from music.
Davido, for instance, who has many endorsement deals, including Pepsi, PUMA, and MTN Pulse, is quite a successful celebrity and endorser.
While some of these partnerships are mutually beneficial to both endorses and companies, some are intended to use the face of someone the youths recognize to nudge their audiences towards trying something risky like online casinos and betting.
Currently, there has been a lot of effort being put in by artists from across Africa, especially Nigerian artists, to popularize the South African genre. You’ll be surprised to see Amapiano songs occupying a better part of Nigeria’s top 50 chart on Spotify.
Many other Naija artists are also releasing some Amapiano-inspired songs. There is even a song titled “Amapiano” by Asake with Olamide.
The famous “Monalisa” track by Lojay with a Chris Brown Remix is evidence that artists from Africa and beyond are adapting the South African sound as the song features the signature log drum of the Amapiano.
In the future, more international artists are expected to collaborate with the South African genre, and some of them have already hinted at appearing on Amapiano. Meanwhile, sensations like Uncle Waffles put on memorable shows worldwide that keep the genre going even stronger.
All these strides, achievements, and speculations predict that the South African sound is now one of the influential genres in the global musical scene.