There’s a new rhythm shaking up the airwaves that is as electrifying as a lightning storm on the dancefloor! The infectious beats of Amapiano, the South African sensation that’s been moving hips worldwide, have swirled their way into the heart of Bongo music, creating a fusion that’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before.
In the world of music, unexpected collaborations often lead to innovative creations that captivate audiences with fresh sounds. Amapiano’s hypnotic log drums and Bongo’s soulful Swahili vibes dance side by side in this genre-blurring affair.
Bongo Flava is a fusion of various musical influences, including hip-hop, R&B, reggae, dancehall, and traditional Tanzanian rhythms. The term “bongo” is slang for Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, where the genre has its roots. Amapiano meanwhile, is a genre born in the South African townships that was influenced by a subgenre of house music known as diBacardi. It features upbeat rhythms and choreographed dances. Spotify data shows that Amapiano’s streams increased by almost 286% in 2022, in both Tanzania and Kenya.
Bongo Flava artists blend international sounds with local rhythms and melodies, creating a unique and distinctive style. This fusion between Bongo and Amapiano is unofficially called, BongoPiano, reflecting the merging of two of the biggest genres from East and South Africa respectively.
Love at first groove
But how exactly did this fusion come about? It is hard to pinpoint when or where exactly it started but what is clear is that Bongo artists discovered that East Africans really enjoy Amapiano beats, language barrier notwithstanding. The artists have not stopped delivering hit after hit, either collaborating with South African artists, or making it fully homegrown.
Almost all Tanzanian artists have dabbled in this fusion, creating a new sound. Some of the top artists with BongoPiano songs include Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize, Marioo, Nandy, Jux, Mbosso and Zuchu.
Collaborations are a key part of the music industry, serving a myriad of purposes including introducing artists to new fanbases. With BongoPiano, it tracks that the biggest songs are collaborations with South African artists.
The top streamed BongoPiano collaboration track is Diamond Platnumz IYO, featuring Focalistic, Mapara A Jazz, & Ntosh Gazi. Jux’s collaboration on Nice (Kiss) with Marioo, Pabi Cooper and Tony Duardo is next. Mbosso’s Moyo with the late Costa Titch and Phantom Steeze is next, followed by Nandy and Sho Madjozi’s Kunjani. Beer Tam with Abbah, Marioo, Tyler ICU and Visca rounds off the top streamed collaborations list.
Kenya has always been a hub of musical diversity, embracing genres from all corners of the globe. With Amapiano infiltrating the Tanzanian Bongo scene, Kenyans have not been left behind either and they are infusing the songs into originally Kenyan genres, or featuring on tracks with Amapiano artists.
Sauti Sol, Brandy Maina, Bey T and Arrow Bwoy are some of the artists with Amapiano songs or features. When it comes to songs getting the most streams on Spotify, Arrow Bwoy’s Chobo, featuring Dufla tops the list. Bey T, Boohle and Soa Mattrix’s Unanicheza is next.
The fusion is not only one way, South African artists are seeking out East African artists to feature on their songs. One such project is Yumbs and Soul Nativez’ Amapiano: East Meets South EP, with some of East Africa’s heavyweights including Xenia Manasseh, Bien, Savara, Fancy Fingers, Marioo and Jux. Naona Wivu and Aki Pesa Wewe both from the EP are among the top streamed Amapiano collaborations.
Sakata, the Spotify playlist dedicated to platforming this fast rising sound also serves as the ultimate playlist for various activities and workout sessions. With its unique blend of Amapiano beats and Bongo melodies, this collection provides a rhythmic backdrop that enhances the energy and motivation during your routines.
Where to next?
With Bongo’s amazing and deep lyrics intertwining seamlessly with the infectious Amapiano beats, a mesmerizing auditory experience has emerged that not only transcends language but also elevates the East African music scene to new heights of cross-genre creativity and undeniable global appeal.
The only question remains, will this fusion spark a trend of mixing two strong music genres? Only time will tell.