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For decades and decades, the only sound that has dominated and represented Africa on a global stage has been West Africa’s Afrobeats until around the mid-2010s when a new sound called Amapiano emerged in South Africa later spreading to the rest of the world.

Today we have the world’s biggest musicians such as Chris Brown, Rihanna, Jason Derulo, Omarion, Davido, and many more publicly embracing and endorsing the popular South African sound.

NB: You can watch this story in video form on our YouTube channel or scroll further to continue reading.

The Origin of Amapiano

Amapiano was created in the townships of Gauteng, one of South Africa’s provinces, mainly in Alexandra, Vosloorus, and Katlehong a few years back.

Although this music genre is only gaining continental and global recognition now, it has been around for a decade emerging back in 2014.

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The origins of Amapiano are also associated with townships in South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria, specifically in Atteridgeville and Mamelodi thus its township of origin is still debated to this day but the bigger picture is that it was created in South Africa.

Just to break down the word AMAPIANO so we are all on the same page as this has been one of the most frequently asked questions worldwide.

Amapiano is a Nguni word which in its simplest form translates to The Pianos in English. The beloved and iconic genre’s name was coined by the musical duo MFR Souls with “Ama” being a Xhosa, Zulu, and Ndebele plural article used as a prefix before singular words or nouns to make them plural, and the word Piano being Piano as we know it in English.

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The Global Impact of Amapiano

While many people argue that this infectious sound is rooted in Kwaito, another original South African sound that blended house beats with hip-hop in the 1990s, it is without a doubt that Amapiano music is one of the fastest-growing genres in the world which has made it to big stages such as AfroNation, Coachella, and many many other huge music festivals.

Having surfaced in 2014, it was in 2016, and 2017 that Amapiano became an accepted mainstream genre in South Africa giving birth to a lot of new artists who have gone global in the blink of an eye.

From 2017 the sound slowly penetrated other African countries and eventually the entire world to a point where we now have Amapiano-themed events and stages all over the world.

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Amapiano at its beginning welcomed newcomers such as Semi Tee, Sha Sha, Miano, and Kamo Mphela, as well as hip-hop artists such as Cassper Nyovest, Focalistic, Young Stunna, Sizwe Alakine, and more who transitioned to the new hot sound.

Apart from MFR Souls, other acts one may consider Amapiano pioneers are JazziDisciples, Kabza De Small, and KWiiSH SA. They are responsible for holding down the Amapiano movement to this day, paving the way for the ones that followed after them and elevated the sound to something we have never seen before.

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One commendable thing about Amapiano is how it changed a lot of dynamics in the music industry from how artists go from upcoming to established, how music is promoted, blending various genres, music consumption, social media trends, and a lot more.

To top it up, the South African music industry was male-dominated for the longest time but with the rise of Amapiano we saw a surge of female stars. The high number of female stars in the genre is also owed to the porous nature of the scene. It’s now a cliche that “there are no gatekeepers in amapiano” — new talent and music easily go viral surpassing the tedious process of climbing the music industry’s treacherous ladder.

Names such as Uncle Waffles, Tyla, Focalistic, Young Stunna, Kabza Da Small, and more easily broke into the global music industry as a result of this unique and amazing sound called Amapiano.

In 2021, Spotify’s flagship Amapiano playlist saw a streaming increase of 622% in South Africa alone, while the UK and the US ranked second and third respectively with the most streams of that same playlist.

TikTok, Reels, and Shorts retain billions and billions of views and videos every day from all over the world as a result of Amapiano songs and their respective challenges.

The internet has been playing a pivotal role in propelling Amapiano to such unprecedented heights. It has provided an accessible platform for young and diverse talent to showcase their unique interpretations of the sound from artists, DJs, producers, dancers, TikTokers, and more.

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Although many may measure the impact of Amapiano bits numbers, it is undeniable that its magic revolutionalized a lot in the creative space giving birth to a new wave of dancers, MCs, content creators, influencers, and more.

It also influenced how artists all over the world promote their music, how brands execute their campaigns, and the urban culture in general.

Amapiano saw remarkable growth, amassing over 1.9 billion Spotify streams in 2022. Its global expansion was tracked with a 563% increase in streams outside Sub-Saharan Africa in the last two years.

South African artists, in turn, earned nearly R200 million from Spotify alone in 2022, a threefold surge from four years prior. As of 2024, Amapiano is now generating billions in revenue across all its spheres in South Africa alone.

Our key focus was the origin and rise of Amapiano, which is just the tip of the iceberg. We shall cover the impact and current state of Amapiano in the next video on this topic.

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