Amapiano & Baile

South Africa has given us plenty of great musical exports over the years, from Jazz, Bubblegum and Kwaito to more contemporary genres like the raw, rhythmic sounds of Gqom that bubbled up in Durban townships – a Brief History of which was charted by pioneer DJ Lag for us last year.

Amapiano is the most recent sensation to come out of the country. First appearing in the mid-2010s, the genre evolved out of South African house music, filling the void that was left by Kwaito in the noughties, in turn becoming a soundtrack for young people in South Africa. Taking cues from deep, soulful house, jazz and lounge, and at times calling to mind the sound of UK Funky, it’s often characterised by atmospheric pads, synths and spacious bass lines.

These sounds have travelled across borders too. In recent years the Amapiano craze has taken over TikTok and Spotify, while here in the UK underground producers are also taking inspiration from these grooves in their own work. We’ve heard it in Scratcha DVA’s output, particularly on his link ups with SA artists like Mxshi Mo, and it’s found its way into the hearts and USBs of DJs here too, namely London’s Nicky Summers.

Her passion for soulful Afro house and deep tech led her to Amapiano. After hearing it at a party a few years ago, she was hooked, and since then it’s become a central part of her musical repertoire. Ahead of her set at amapiano-indebted night Ama at Jazz Cafe, Nicky treats us to a set of her favourite underground tracks and shares how the sound first grabbed her and has impacted her musical journey since.