Music

Swahili lyrics in South Africa’s new house music

ScorpionKings1

Scorpion Kings from South Africa and DRC born singer Tresor who have collaborated on a new album called 'Rumble In The Jungle". PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • Amapiano is an infectious electronic dance groove that blends Afro house along with other popular styles in the townships of South African cities.
  • Thanks to a rise in digital streams the popularity of this genre has grown right around the world and seem set for a huge explosion in 2021, thanks to a global hunger for contemporary African music styles.

South Africa has established itself as one of the major centres of house music in the world, but in the last decade, a variation of the genre has emerged from the townships of Johannesburg and Pretoria and acquired a huge stake in global music trends, aided by online sharing platforms and massive digital streams

Amapiano is an infectious electronic dance groove that blends Afro house along with other popular styles in the townships of South African cities, like jazz and kwaito, flavoured with percussions and piano melodies that started as an underground sound popular with the youth, before being widely embraced due to its richness and originality.

Thanks to a rise in digital streams the popularity of this genre has grown right around the world and seem set for a huge explosion in 2021, thanks to a global hunger for contemporary African music styles.

One of the leading exponents of amapiano is the renowned South African performer and producer, DJ Maphorisa, the producer who created dance anthems like “Khona” for Mafikizolo, and collaborated with the US group Major Lazer on the 2017 international hit “Particular.”

Maphorisa and his partner Kabza De Small who are known as the Scorpion Kings have just announced the release of a new album titled “Rumble in the Jungle.” The first single from the album is a dance groove with Kiswahili lyrics called “Funu” featuring the artist Tresor, who is originally from Goma, DRC, but is based in South Africa.

The song has an irresistible, percussive groove with the distinctive vocals of Tresor singing about the pain that a man in love feels for the object of his desire.

“I am really excited about the Swahili lyrics,” says Maphorisa in an interview with BDLife. “I know we have a big following in East Africa because the last time we performed in Kenya we had a sold-out show and I can’t wait for folks over there to hear our new music.”

“Tresor brings a different texture, he is authentic and we have combined English French, Lingala, Zulu, Kiswahili. Mixing all those languages in one project means we are just expanding the amapiano wave and growing the music in territories that it may not have reached until now.

While Scorpion Kings are both producers and DJs who work in the studio together, they also bring their creativity to the process. Maphorisa is a singer who develops the melodies and has worked with global stars on projects like the Coke Studio TV show, while Kabza is a rapper who develops the kwaito hooks and has been credited for bringing amapiano out of the townships into the mainstream.

“We met three years ago as he was developing the amapiano sound which no one could resist and I was like ‘I need to work with Kabza,” says Maphorisa.

“We immediately clicked like that and gave birth to the Scorpion Kings.” Both artistes share the zodiac sign of Scorpio hence the name of the group.

Maphorisa says a joint project with Tresor has been a long time coming but became a reality after he heard Tresor unique singing style as they worked on a Covid-19 awareness project last year.

“When they approached me, I was excited because I have known both artists for some time, so I started creating ideas and sending them through and from the first few songs we knew we wanted to make more music,” says Tresor.

The making of the album began when South Africa was in its first lockdown in May 2020 and the artistes utilised the time on their hands to record the album.