Amapiano is becoming a world-conquering genre since emerging in South Africa several years ago, with big producers maturing the sound in recent years to solidify its place as an embedded African dance music culture.
We will be discussing which South African DJ/Producers are carrying the torch for Amapiano right now.
Artists like DJ Maphosisa, Major League DJz, NJelic, Mr JazziQ and DBN Gogo have helped the sound mature and transcend across the world which has seen international success. Producers like Kabza De Small have also contributed to the popularity and success with sounds known as ‘private school’ Amapiano.
MFR Souls and Mdu aka TRP are known as the first to infuse the log drum into Amapiano productions, an element that had a huge impact on the development of the sound. Kelvin Momo, Gabba Canal, contemporary Amapiano - all essential listening for anyone wanting to better understand its DNA.
The man behind the multi-million streaming ‘Siyathandana’, voiced by Boohle and Cassper Nyovest — along with the Major League DJz co-produced albums ‘Pianochella’ and ‘What’s The Levol’ — Abidoza is one of the most in-demand producers in Amapiano. He says he’s a shy person, and often misunderstood; someone who often leans into more instrumentally-focused Amapiano rather than dancefloor-ready productions.
This year, Abidoza is set to release a full-length album, featuring artists from Nigeria and France. He says he feels they can communicate the sort of message that can change people’s perspectives about life, while creating music that will be the next step in the evolution of Amapiano.
A Durban producer who got the opportunity to share his music when UK singer-songwriter and Ghanian producer GuiltyBeatz released their controversial take on amapiano, ‘All Of This’. Mpilo “Dankie Fuze” Ngcobo remixed it, winning the approval of Amapiano fans across the world when his tweet of the track went viral. Adopting Amapiano staples into a swimming groove, with sirens and accurately-tuned drums, his rework cradles Jorja’s soulful vocal. As well as producing his own music, Dankie Fuze is an audio engineer by the day, he recently graduated from Academy of Sound Engineering in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
One of the few women leading the new wave of Amapiano production, Mandisa “DBN GOGO” Radebe has been producing solo music since 2017, as well as co-producing Lady Du, Unlimited Soul, Focalistic, Mas Musiq and Felo Le Tee. She’s currently touring across the world, with stops in the UK, Botswana and the US. Even though she comes from a more affluent background than most, she’s earned respect coming up through the competitive world of Amapiano, becoming one of the most beloved figures in the scene. With her vocals and production on the anthemic ‘French Kiss’, from her ‘Thokoza Cafe’ album, she’s given Amapiano fans in Francophone countries a track they can claim — and 2021 would not be the same without her viral Dakiwe challenge. Most recently, she partnered with producers Mellow & Sleazy, and long-time collaborator Dinho, for an Afrotech-inspired evolution on ‘Zwanaka’.
Mellow and Sleazy
Making huge impact with Young Stunna’s ‘Bopha’, and Focalistic’s ‘16 Days No Sleep’, along with ‘Trust Fund’ before that - which is yet to be released officially - the innovative Mellow & Sleazy are testing the limits of South Africa’s unique dance cultures. Enlisting the skill of Spitori rapper Ch’cco - who’s namesake was an ‘80’s Kwaito star called Chicco, who had hit called ‘Need Some Money’ - this divisive number has started an interesting debate among Amapiano and Bacardi fans (some have described the track as a bastardisation of Bacardi”). While most who don’t understand Pretoria rap or Bacardi won’t share their enthusiasm, the nostalgic yet brazen approach to creating new waves has landed well in their hometown.