Music Friday: 6 Yanos for the weekend ahead

Written by on 28 July, 2023

Amapiano, a style of house music that is distinctly South African, is taking the streets by storm.

Inspired by deep house, jazz and lounge music, the sound has a percussive baseline that draws from kwaito and Bacardi, a Pretoria borne sound. Amapiano has also launched the careers of many people such as DBN Gogo, Young Stunna, Kamo Mphela, Busta 99, Tyler ICU, Daliwonga and Uncle Waffles.

Amapiano began to gain traction in South African townships — historically racially segregated residential areas — in 2016. It has spread rapidly and organically through WhatsApp and ride-shares, spawning its own evolution and subgenres. “There’s jazzy piano where it’s just an instrumental,” explains DJ Maphorisa, the South African producer partially responsible for Drake’s record-breaking smash “One Dance.” “We have soulful amapiano with voices. And there’s this one we call tech piano, like techno, with claps and snaps.”


According to Busiswa, Maphorisa is often thought of as pushing amapiano into the mainstream, but he has followed the path lit by pioneers like DJ Stokie, Junior Taurus, MFR Souls, Mr JazziQ and Josiah De Disciple, and Kabza De Small. Maphorisa credits Kabza, a 28-year-old DJ and producer from Pretoria, with being one of the first acts to lay vocals atop amapiano beats. As a solo artist, Kabza has been the most-streamed local musician on Spotify South Africa for the past two years. His 2020 solo album, I Am the King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust, was the most popular South African project in Apple Music’s history. For his part, Kabza is a Maphorisa fan, and in 2019 the pair formed the duo Scorpion Kings, rapidly releasing five studio EPs and albums, plus a live album, together since.

Amapiano can be perfect for a breezy afternoon at home or a hot, stuffy night in the club. It can ride like winding roads or pulse and beat like driving over cobblestone. Amapiano can be slipped smoothly in DJ sets of Afrobeats and R&B. It can live everywhere. The yanos, like DJ Moma, continue to remix and innovate. “Things are going to reopen this summer, definitely, and amapiano is going to be huge.






Gagasi FM

What You Want to Hear