Why the surging Amapiano wave in Tanzania should remain untouched
If there's one thing that Tanzanian music hardcores like AY, Mwana FA, Shetta, Fobi, and even the legendary Tanzanian producer Masta Jay agree on, it's the fact that South Africa's Amapiano should be shown the exit door from Tanzania's airwaves
Amapiano is the new boss in town. The South African-born sound, which is a blend of Kwaito and House music, has gone full-on invasion mode, popping up on every Tanzanian radio station, TV playlist, and even crashing into the active Tanzanian nightclub scene.
The titans of Bongo Flava, comprising renowned figures such as Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize, Marioo, Rayvanny, Nandy, Ali Kiba, and Zuchu, have enthusiastically embraced the colossal Amapiano sound by creating their own Amapiano-infused songs.
The Amapiano invasion In Tanzania is prominently showcased in the current Audiomack charts, where a striking 7 out of the top 10 songs—such as Enjoy, Sele, Single Again Remix, Pita Kule, and many others are all Amapiano compositions crafted by Tanzanian artists.
With Tanzanian rapper Shetta recently declaring war against Amapiano for stealing Bongo Flava’s spotlight, a provocative question emerges: Is it time for Tanzanian artists to toss Amapiano out the window and embrace Bongo Flava?
In this article, we will spotlight the reasons why the Amapiano surge in Tanzania should remain untouched:
1. Fans Love Amapiano
The popularity of Amapiano in Tanzania is a direct result of its engaging and upbeat sound, which fans adore and love.
Over the past few years, various genres like House music, Kizomba, and even Zouk have made attempts to break into the Tanzanian market. Still, they struggled to resonate with the audience.
Amapiano is engaging and has blended well with Tanzanian fans. One standout example is Harmonize's blockbuster tune Single Again. Despite being an Amapiano track, the song has garnered Millions of streams and stands as East Africa’s biggest song.
The War on Amapiano waged by Bongo Fleva puritans and elites doesn't resonate with club-goers who simply enjoy the music and fill themselves with joy as they chant Bora Niienjoy or Nilikuwa Na Wanangu Wakina Chino when they visit the likes of Elements and Warehouse on weekends.
2. Hating On Amapiano Is Hypocritical
One of the reasons Tanzanian music purists voice concerns about Amapiano is its foreign origins, which according to them overshadow and reduce the influence that Bongo Flava has had for years.
However, in fairness, aside from Singeli and Taarab, practically every other contemporary Tanzanian music genre is foreign. This includes Bongo Flava itself, which fuses R&B, Reggae, American Hip Hop, and more recently, West Africa's Afrobeats.
If there's an effort to discourage or ban Amapiano, the same level of attention should be directed towards West Africa's Afrobeats, America's Hip Hop & RnB, and Jamaica's Reggae, as all these genres are foreign to Tanzania.
It's quite intriguing to witness artists who label themselves as Hip Hop or Bongo Flava performers criticising the Amapiano trend simply because of its foreign origins.
Where was this fervour when Diamond Platnumz dominated Africa with his fusion of Bongo Flava and Afrobeats in the track My Number One Remix a decade ago?
3. Swahili Amapiano Is Not Pure Amapiano
It's evident that Tanzanian Amapiano has a distinct flavour from the original South African Amapiano sound. There's a noticeable contrast between Zuchu's laid-back Kitu and the intense, gritty quality of Tyler ICU's Mnike.
Tanzanian Amapiano exhibits a gentler character, often remixed to incorporate elements from Baibuda, Bongo Fleva, and other Tanzanian genres.
Similarly, just as there is American Hip Hop and South African Hip Hop, the original American Hip Hop retains its essence while South African Hip Hop adopts a softer approach by infusing elements of Kwaito and RnB.
Mbosso's Sitaki and Haitham Kim's Dubai stand as prime illustrations of the distinctiveness of Tanzanian Amapiano. Both songs feature an Amapiano beat, complemented by an infusion of coastal bass and sounds.
A major error Tanzanian artists could have committed was replicating South African Amapiano verbatim and presenting it to their audience without any modification, which they didn’t do.
4. Amapiano Is The Shortcut To The International Music Scene.
There's a clear reason why Diamond Platnumz's Shuu is rapidly spreading across social media platforms, even garnering attention from individuals like English footballer Jesse Lingard, who shared his enjoyment of the song on Snapchat.
This achievement stands in contrast to Yatapita, a purely well-written Bongo Flava ballad sung in Swahili, which did not achieve the same level of virality that Shuu had.
Amapiano's upbeat nature transcends language barriers, allowing for singing without full comprehension of the lyrics. This approach is precisely what Diamond Platnumz achieved with Shuu and Harmonise accomplished with Single Again.
These songs have successfully penetrated the international market due to their universally appealing beats and vibes—a feat that Bongo Flava struggled to accomplish despite years of effort.
5. The Amapiano Wave Is Not Only In Tanzania but in Africa in general.
At least every significant African music powerhouse has embraced the Amapiano trend. Even Nigeria, the continent's largest music market, has been deeply impacted by the Amapiano wave, as prominent figures like Davido, Burna Boy, and Wizkid have lent their award-winning vocals to the genre.
It's widely recognised that the Yaba Buluku Remix by Burna Boy with Dj Tarico falls within the Amapiano genre, Wizkid's 2021 hit Bad To Me represents a fusion of Afrobeats and Amapiano elements, and Davido's Feel stands as a genuine Amapiano track.
Tanzanian artists aren't the sole participants in embracing the Amapiano trend. When the largest music industry in Africa itself is embracing South Africa's Amapiano, what sets us apart to believing that enjoying Amapiano will diminish the prominence of Bongo Flava?
When South African artists craft their sound, overtaking Tanzanian music is low on their list of worries. The Tanzanian music industry should be on alert when we begin witnessing authentic South African Amapiano tracks dominating our Audiomack, Apple Music, and Boomplay charts. That's the point at which our concern should escalate.
If Tanzanian artists are creatively reimagining Amapiano, infusing it with our distinctive local flavour, and satisfying their fans, there's nothing negative about that approach.
Given Amapiano's enduring presence, the idea of introducing a new genre named Bongo Piano, which harmoniously combines Tanzanian musical essence with Amapiano, seems fitting and forward-looking.