4 sounds terrorizing the streets of Africa

4 Sounds Terrorizing the streets of Africa

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Africa is a grand continent consisting of different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds and this reflects heavily on the sound emanating from the continent. All Countries have their sound with which they can be identified. In the West, there is abundance of Afro-beats, Reggae and Dancehall, in the South, Gqom, Amapiano and House fill the air, in the East Bongo-Flava has sent many to sleep. Artists from different Countries come together frequently with their home cooked genres to create African delicacies which they serve as albums or singles. They keep folks coming back for multiple helpings. These are some of the sounds creating an uproar in the Motherland at the moment.

Burna BOY

1. Afro-beats: This is commonly mistaken for Afro-beat. It is pertinent for people to know that these two terms are not the same and while Afro-beat which is a fusion of Highlife and Fuji with foreign sounds such as Jazz and Funk, has to do with the music of Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Antibalas, Monomono, Newen Afrobeat, Chopteeth, Zongo Junction, The Budos Band, Kokolo Afrobeat and others, Afrobeats is a sound that emerged in West Africa and the UK in the early 2010s. It is made up of a lot of genres, ranging from Pop music to Grime. The term was coined in the UK in a bid to put music from Countries like Nigeria and Ghana under an Umbrella because they simply did not know what to call the music emanating from these Countries. Afro-beats is an Umbrella term for anything “Afro” i.e. western music that has been merged with local sounds or languages such as pidgin or one’s mother tongue. Afro-Funk, Afro-Pop, Afro-Hip Hop, Afro-Soul, Afro-Rock, Afro-House and others fall under Afro-beats.

Artists like Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Niniola, Sarkordie, Stonebwoy, Kuami Eugene, King Promise and more have made the genre a household name, stretching its influence from Lagos and Accra to the United States and other Countries. Afro-beats has been sprinkled around Africa, blessing the air and filling up event centres. Other Countries within Africa desire to be involved in Afro-beats as they see it as the most internationally acclaimed sound from the shores of Africa. A big example of this is Kenya’s Sauti Sol who featured a few Afro-beats artists in the persons of Patoranking, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Yemi Alade on their Afrikan Sauce album. This marked their change of music from traditional music to Afro-beats. Artists like Davido, Burna Boy and Wizkid have topped several African music charts. Burna Boy was recently announced as the most streamed African artist on Spotify.

Fall by Nigeria’s Davido was certified Gold in Canada, a feat not known to many Africans. African DJs and DJs outside Africa always make sure Afro-beats is on heavy rotation during events. All these events and more made popular model Naomi Campbell clamour for an Afro-beats category at the Grammy awards, a statement which was termed “laughable” by Universal Music Nigeria writer Joey Akan. He said that, although Afro-beats has grown, it has not reached the level where it would have a whole category at the Grammy awards, accruing to the fact that it cannot do the numbers the genres which have been given categories at the awards do. This writer is of the same view and one day he hopes Afro-beats gets a category at the Grammy awards.


2. Amapiano: Commonly mistaken for Gqom, Amapiano is a genre of house music that emerged in South Africa in 2016, unlike Gqom which makes use of repeated drumming, Amapiano makes use of regular drum patterns. The rate at which Amapiano is getting mainstream appeal across Africa is quite alarming. South Africans want you to have your best time at the ‘Sun City’ and it’s obvious a sound has been manufactured for that.

Amapiano might end up becoming the sound of 2020 and we have the likes of Dj Maphorisa, Kabza De Small, Master KG, Zanda Zakuza, Black Coffee, Busiswa, Cassper Nyovest, Sha Sha, Nomcebo, Dj Ganyani, Dj Lady T, Sun-El Musician, Josiah De Disciples and others to thank for this. Kabza De Small, who is regarded as the ‘King of Amapiano’ has released several albums to the glory of Amapiano, highly worthy of mention are Pretty Girls Love Amapiano 1 and 2.

Dj Maphorisa, one of those that spearheaded Gqom has also thrown his weight behind Amapiano, releasing series of projects with Kabza De Small. In the space of a few months, Dj Maphorisa and Kabza De Small released five projects together; an EP titled Scorpion Kings in 2019, an album Scorpion Kings in 2019, another album Return of The Scorpion Kings later that year and 2 albums in 2020; Scorpion Kings Live 1 and Scorpion Kings Live 2. Scorpion Kings Live 2 released during the Corona-virus lockdown has given fans a large Amapiano meal to last them throughout the lockdown. These three albums over the past few months have given the genre a major boost. Musician and record producer, Master KG’s influence on the genre cannot also be overlooked, with the release of Jerusalema featuring Noncembo and Skeleton Moves featuring Zanda Zakuza the genre has gone places in Africa. Popular South African DJ, Black Coffee has also thrown his influence behind the genre as he has released several Amapiano songs, he even went as far as defending the genre when German Dj, Lars Benhenroth criticised the genre and its artists on Twitter. Black Coffee just released a beautiful Amapiano tune with Sabrina Claudio called SBCNCSLY.

Her Majesty the Queen, Busiswa one of those at the fore-front of Gqom also jumped on Amapiano effortlessly. She recently featured on Dj Maphorisa and Kabza De Small’s Suka off the album Scorpion Kings Live 2. She had earlier featured on Abuyile Amakhosi and Hilili off the album The Return of The Scorpion Kings. Rap icon Cassper Nyovest has also jumped on the wave and defended criticism of the genre. Songbird Sha Sha is another woman at the forefront of the genre. Her discography is quite amazing as she regularly teams up with Amapiano heavyweights Kabza De Small and Dj Maphorisa. She has featured both DJs in Going In, Tender Love and Sing It Back. She has featured on two collaborative albums by Kabza De Small and Dj Maphorisa, Scorpion Kings and Scorpion Kings Live 2 on the tracks We’Mama and Ithemba’lam respectively. Recently we even saw Nigeria’s Mayorkun jump on Amapiano in his recent song Of Lagos, another testament to the greatness of Amapiano. The recent collaboration, Sponono by Dj Maphorisa, Kabza De Small, Cassper Nyovest, Burna Boy and Wizkid is a brilliant intersection of Amapiano and Afrobeats.


3. Gqom: Arguably the biggest sound in South Africa before the rise of Amapiano. Gqom didn’t just take over the streets of South Africa, it extended its influence to other African Countries and the world at large. Gqom saw the rise of the likes of Busiswa, Babes Wodumo, Prince Kaybee, Sho Madjozi, Crowd Kontroller, Okmalumkoolkat, Moonchild Sanelly, DJ Maphorisa, Dj Tira, Distruction Boyz and more. However, Gqom’s biggest criticism is the lack of lyrical dexterity but that seems to matter little to the artists and fans provided the hits come in. The rise of Gqom coincided with the rise of rappers like Nasty C, Emtee, Frank Casino and A Reece who kept away from the commercial Gqom and did rap and trap music in such a way that it gave Gqom a run for its money. At that time, we saw popular rap figure Cassper Nyovest jump on the sound and there was an expectation that the younger rappers would follow suit but it did not happen.

These happenings strengthened the rap culture in South Africa. This writer is not sure whether it would be fair to call DJ Maphorisa ‘King of Gqom’ but he spearheaded a lot of collaborations that made airwaves during the rise of Gqom. His frequent collaborators were the likes of Busiswa and Moonchild Sanelly. In fact, it would be extremely difficult to think of any artist DJ Maphorisa has not had a collaboration with. His only criticism is the fact that he only puts out Gqom singles and he doesn’t have a Gqom body of work to grace his influence like the way he has five Amapiano projects to his name. However, Gqom is still relevant and one of these days we might see him release one. Maphorisa was in high demand in Nigeria at a time as a result of his Gqom prowess, lacing Omo Alhaji remix with Ycee and Wakomije with DJ Spinall. However, once in a while he shows that he is not all about Gqom and Amapiano, Good Love with Wizkid is a testament to this. His recent EP Madumane also has some trap tracks. Busiswa’s Gqom discography is a very large one, if anyone was to be called ‘Queen of Gqom’, it would be her. She is arguably one of those that put Gqom on the map, with tracks such as Weh DJ with Kaygee The Vibe and Midnight Starring with DJ Maphorisa, DJ Tira, Moonchild Sanelly, Distruction Boyz and Rude Boyz, she amassed a huge following. Patoranking who earlier jumped on the Gqom vibe in Available, put her on Open Fire off the Wilmer album.

DJ Tunez featured her on the track Majesty off his EP, In Tunez We Trust. In early 2018, she became friends with Niniola and added spice to the Magun charm. This was the period Niniola’s Afro-House was getting a massive audience in South Africa as she featured on tracks by South African producers; Crowd Kontroller, Muungu Africa and Heavy K.

Producers, Thobani “Que” Mgobhozi and Zipho “Goldmax” Mthembu also known as Distruction Boys ruled the streets of Africa with Gqom. Their debut album Gqom Is the Future was certified Gold making it the first Gqom album to achieve such status. The album houses the track Omunye which was their blow-up song and one of the songs that put Gqom’s footprints in the sands of time. The duo later released Shut Up & Groove featuring Babes Wodumo and Mampinthsa and Madness featuring Tipcee. They would go on to produce star studded Midnight Starring and release their second studio album It Was All A Dream exactly a year after the first. This prominence between 2017 and 2018 saw them win Best Group/Duo at the Sound City MVP Awards and Record of the Year at the South African Music Awards. They were nominated in the Best International Act category at the BET Awards but lost out to Nigeria’s Davido.

Sho Madjozi is presently one of South Africa’s biggest Gqom exports. She has succeeded in attracting a whole new audience to the sound and she is not showing signs of rest. Her song John Cena, named after popular wrestler, actor and rapper John Cena has garnered streams overseas and opened doors for her, she even got to meet John Cena. As a result of the song she was featured in a WWE commercial with the likes of WWE Superstars; Braun Strowman, Charlotte Flair, Roman Reigns, Ricochet, Elias, Alexa Bliss and others. The commercial airs every time on the SuperSports channels, maybe one of these days we might see Sho Madjozi make a WWE debut lol. She was recently featured on the track, Disco Matanga off Sauti Sol’s Midnight Train album and Stormzy’s Own It remix alongside Burna Boy.

4. Bongo-Flava: This is the name for music that comes from Tanzania. Spearheaded by the likes of Rayvanny, Alikiba, Harmonize, and Diamond Platinumz, Bongo-Flava has sprayed its perfume around Africa. Rayvanny’s Tetema featuring Diamond Platinumz is a testament to this, the original song and the remix featuring Nigeria’s Zlatan and Patoranking were a massive success. The original song was nominated in the Best African collaboration, Song of the Year and Best Africa Dance or Choreography categories at the 2019 All Africa Music Awards. Diamond Platnumz’s Inama featuring Congo’s Fally Ipupa was also nominated in the Best Africa Dance or Choreography category. Over the years, Alikiba who has been nicknamed ‘The King of Bongo-Flava’ has been involved in various collaborations with other African artists like Davido, Patoranking, Sauti Sol, Navy Kenzo and others, spreading Bongo Flava across the shores of Tanzania.

Diamond Platnumz’s influence on Bongo-Flava cannot be overlooked. He is regarded as the most influential and most decorated East African artist presently. He has taken the sound to Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Angola and other African Countries as he is always involved in collaborations with artists from these Countries. He is one of the artists featured on Stonebwoy’s recent album Angola Junction, he was featured on the song Black Madonna which is one of the best songs off the album, if not the best.

Konde boy, Harmonize is another artist reflecting Bongo-Flava’s rays on the continent. He has been in popular demand across Africa because of his soothing vocals which he uses to fuse Afro-pop and Bongo-Flava. Harmonize has successfully brought his sound to West Africa, lacing collaborations with the likes of Mr Eazi, Yemi Alade, Burna Boy, Skales, Seyi Shay, Phyno, Sarkordie and others. He has also gained some popularity in Zimbabwe, as Jah Prayzah featured him on a song. His influence has also spread to the likes of Uganda and Kenya, lacing collaborations with Uganda’s Afro-pop/Dance hall artist Eddy Kenzo and Kenya’s Nyanshinski.

About Cephas Oboh

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