5 South African Rappers Dabbling in Amapiano

21 September 2021
A list of the country's biggest emcees switching gears.

The Amapiano current has defined the sound of the culture for several summers now, and the wave looks to be gaining momentum. 

And with Amapiano producers banging out the most addictive hooks and boastful beats for the dance floors, a slew of South African artists from different genres have jumped on the sound to blend their own flavours with a fresh twist. When it comes to SA Hip Hop, however, the rise of rappers who are dabbling in the so called yanos, has sparked debates about the whether or not pure SA Hip Hop will be able to stand on it’s own if its most influential figures appear to be abandoning it for greener pastures. 

On the other side of the coin (yes, because we are talking about authenticity versus going for the bag), Hip Hop has always been noted for its versitality. The sound has evolved quite significantly through the years, even absorbing various local sounds to produce a distinct local subgenre. It’s not surprising then, that South African rappers are jumping on the trend to give their own spin to the wave. 

Here are a number of local rappers who have give amapiano the go in the studio 


If there’s a rapper who conforms the least to codes that define Hip Hop purity, it’s Cassper. Now with two dance albums Sweet and Short and Sweet and Short 2.0, it’s clear that Nyovest takes the melting of genre into a complete discography quite seriously. He’s building a solid catalogue with complete bodies of work around Hip Hop, house and piano fusions. The results have been big, which means we are likely to see a continuation of genre blending in the future. 


He’s one of the greats who were responsible for the explosion of SA Hip Hop back in the earlier days of the past decade. One thing Riky Rick knows how to do is to give hooks that become solid sing-alongs. Recently, Boss Zonke has been bringing this energy to the yanos. He’s been working with some of the most finessed producers and artists in the amapiano space, such as Mas Musiq, DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and She Sha to give us some nice ones. It feels organic too, especially on songs like ‘Mthande’. 


The fact that Pitori Maradona’s list of collaborations spills across genres is a tell tale sign that he really intends to melt Hip Hop and Amapiano in a way that works, rather than feel contrived and forced. The list includes the likes of Major League DJz, Emtee, Cassper Nyovest, Vigro Deep, Mr JazziQ and the Scorpion Kings - some of the best names on both sides of the soundscape. Focalistic has credited his ability to fuse yanos and Hip Hop in a sprawling discography that now boasts chart toppers and GOLD record to his upbringing in Ga-Rankuwa, where different sounds find a home in one space.


He’s no newbie to incorporating various styles in his sound. K.O, the architect of the Skhanda sound, had already shot to the top of the charts bringing Hip Hop together with Kwaito in a way that was novel and groundbreaking. He continued to reinvent himself with Gqom influences working with the likes of DJ Maphorisa and Moonchild Sanelly a big bangers. K.O has continued to play in different spaces, one of them now being amapiano. 


Reason’s entrance into the Amapiano space sparked quite the conversation earlier this year. He’s lauded for his beastly flows and thought provoking lyricist flair, the release of with DJ Maphorisa was always going to be a moment the culture would have reflected on with an intensity. Reason contended that the separation between amapiano and SA Hip Hop is not as iced as some would have it. “What’s wrong with hip hop artists making Piano though?”, he tweeted. “It’s our sound. Why glorify the idea of us pushing an American sound when we can jump on our own too? We still love hip hop. But the country loves piano…”

We sure do. 

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