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  • Thandie Sibanda

The Rise And Rise Of South Africa In 2020’s Western Music Stage

Updated: Sep 14

The storm of South Africa’s music to growth ratio has taken the international music scene by chance. Pioneering the charts with world-star features and record-setting stats, as we reach the last three months of 2020, it’s time we give accolades to the nations musical talents and their ground-shaking impact on the global stage.


Setting the pace in SA is the new-born genre that is Amapiano. The heavy drum dominated music-style, which comes from the nations Black community and originated in the townships, can be described as the love child of deep SA House and traditional tribal traditions - often moulded alongside a keyboard. Household names around the Amapiano lifestyle include Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa, Jazzi Disciples and Virgo Deep - to name a few. If you are local to the "Amapiano lifestyle" you’ll be hip to the name Kabza De Small - also known as the “King” of the genre. Wins surrounding the producer include the fast-motion growth of his 4th studio album earlier this year which included Afro-Fusion features from Wiz Kid and Burna Boy and an assortment of SA vocalists and DJ’s. The project bragged 27 tracks and achieved the status of the first album to occupy the first 26 spots of the top 30 music charts in South African history - according to Briefly. Meanwhile, on the global diaspora stage Zimbabwean-born vocalist Sha Sha - included in features alongside Maphorisa and De Small- took home ‘Best New International Act’ at the 2020 BET Awards.


The melodic sounds from the Rainbow Nation accompanied by native clicks and accents provide the stamp to certify a South African artist- word to Sho Madjozi and her viral song ‘John Cena’. Most recently, Master KG’s -Jerusalema, which was released late last year, inspired the TikTok trend ‘#Jerusalemachallenge’ thus boosting its market strategy for a global audience in 2020. Impactful and catchy as the song is, In September it set a new milestone as Shazam’s most searched for song.


On the side of features, the African diaspora has watched as small mixtape artists, that not so long ago received no recognition from western artists, have grown an audience that includes the US and UK. One of the most largely recognisable and popular collaborations was Beyoncé’s Black Is King, described by The Guardian as Beyoncé’s love song to the Black diaspora. The project celebrated African culture, its artists and included a cameo from Mzansi heavyweights including Nandi Madida, Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Busiswa (previously featured in the Black Panther Soundtrack) and Moonchild Sanelly. On the other hand, a number of US artist have been spotted on SA projects as features. Compton rapper, Boogie made a cameo on the September rollout of Casper Nyovest’s A.M.N (Any Minute Now) project and Nasty C dedicated over 75% of the features to US artists (on his Zulu Man With Some Power project) including Lil Keed, Ari Lennox, T.I and Lil Gotit. The distinctive drum-boss rhythm has inspired talent outside of the southern African region. When US artist Matt Mcghee launched Everything Starts From Now he also added an Amapiano instrumental for his track Prideful, thus joining artists such as Rema who've opted for the progressive instrumental in their discography.


In the UK, the Amapiano genre has been celebrated by British-African’s pushing a UK-produced sound. Examples of this is producer Juls’ Soweto Blues project, again, sporting a feature from Busiswa and Jaz Karis. In a bold display of versatility and cultural amalgamation, it can be argued that the unexpected Moonchild Sanelly feature on Ghett’s Mozambique alongside Jaykae was a combination no one knew they needed - but definitely enjoyed.



Perhaps this is a trend? or the impact of Afro-fusion that has just gained momentum on the global music stage. It’s clear that this year alone, in the age of COVID-19 and Tik Tok the south has still managed to keep its head afloat, grow its audience and popularity.


It will be particularly interesting to see if the South African wave continues for the next three months of 2020. Is this the back-log of the wave that began in 2018 following the release of Black Panther? Or is the sound of the South of Africa here to stay? Let us know your thoughts







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