Afrobeats and Amapiano: Rival Genres or Complimenting Each Other to Shine Light on Africa’s Talent?

BY Nii Ogbamey Tetteh October 2, 2023 10:10 PM EDT
Source: Instagram.com / @teddysphotos, @Davido, @burnaboygram

Amapiano, the genre of music generally characterized by its slow tempo, deep basslines, and a unique trend of the bass drum has been around a lot longer than it is being purported.

The music genre sometimes described as a laid-back and slow-tempo trend has made massive waves on the streets and dance communities in South Africa since 2010.

Amapiano is a Zulu word that translates as ‘the pianos’, which can be heard to a large extent in all songs emanating from the genre.

Like its rival music genre, Afrobeats, Amapiano has gained global recognition, with several of the major players in the Afrobeats fraternity fusing the South African-birthed sound with Afrobeats songs.

In 2022, Amapiano’s popularity shot up when former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama included Prince Kaybee, Ami Faku, Shimza, and Black Motion’s hit song ‘Uwrongo’ in his much-anticipated end-of-year playlist.

Some of the key players in the South African-dominated genre include Nigeria’s DJ Neptune, Rema, and Davido, South Africa’s Musa Keys; and Ghanaian musician, King Promise among others.

It is worth noting that most of these African stars dominating the Amapiano genre are the same ones holding the fort in the Afrobeats genre. Though Afrobeats, which is a blend of traditional African music genres such as highlife, and fuji, with Western music genres such as hip hop, R&B, and pop – has been around since the early 2000s, Amapiano appears to be evolving at a fast pace with a lot of demand on the market.

Amapiano on the other hand derives its roots from other music genres like Jazz, Kwaito, and traditional South African music like mbaqanga and isicathamiya.    

Is Afrobeats The Same As Amapiano?

Looking at the origins of both genres, there is a clear distinction. Afrobeats traces its roots to West Africa specifically Nigeria and Ghana whereas Amapiano traces its roots to South Africa.

Though musicians across the world have been strategic and creative enough to fuse the two prominent genres, they still remain distinct and are gradually becoming rival genres that are taking over the world in their own rights.

Nigerian singer, Spiro, did well when he fused Afrobeats and Amapiano in his Who Is Your Guy hit song. The song went viral almost immediately with Nigerian Afrobeats singer Tiwa Savage hopping onto the remix to etch her name in the song’s illustrious journey all over the globe.

Ghanaian Highlife and Afrobeats sensation, King Promise, also did marvelous with his Terminator song when he weaved the Afrobeats and Amapiano genres together nicely. Attentive listeners of the popular song cannot miss the bass kick drum which kept giving the Amapiano vibe in the song.

Nigerian superstar, Davido, also did the merger of both genres in his Unavailable song which featured South African musician, Musa Keys. It instantly became a hit after it was released early this year.

Future of Afrobeats and Amapiano

With the current trend, it appears that the Afrobeats is here to stay with several musicians across the world jumping onto the genre.  Demand for the genre along with the dance moves to go with each song is high, especially among the youth. However, this same Generation Z thirsts for a taste of Amapiano as well.

Perhaps the increasing demand for Afrobeats and Amapiano, is why most musicians are actively merging both genres to satisfy patrons. This trend has inspired international acts like Ed Sheeran who will jump on any trending African Afrobeats songs for a remix.

From the foregoing, it can clearly be said that other genres like Highlife, Reggae, Jazz, Rock, and RnB among others have had their glorious moments and it is now time for Afrobeats and Amapiano to carry the torch of Africa’s new sound and music style.