Who Made Amapiano Popular in Nigeria? Check The List of Important Nigerian Amapiano Songs
The Twitter trend tables have once again become a hotbed for Nigerian music conversations, and this time it’s a highly contrived debate about the artiste who popularized the South African Amapiano sound in Nigeria.
Is it May D, Kiddominant, or Davido who popularized Amapiano in Nigeria? Discover more in our story below.
On September 14th, South African DJ, DJ Maphorisa, unintentionally sparked an Amapiano feud by responding to a music fan who claimed that Davido had exported the Amapiano sound from South Africa to the rest of the world.
The fan also mentioned Wizkid’s Bad To Me, claiming that the singer jumped on the Amapiano wave after Davido’s success with the sound, citing Davido as a sound pioneer whom other artists have looked up to over the years.
DJ Maphorisa, on the other hand, was not having any of it and responded to the tweet and corrected the fan by stating that his Sponono record with Kabza De Small, which featured Wizkid and Burna Boy, was released three years ago, making them the first to have them on an Amapiano record.
Indeed, Sponono was the first time the two artists performed Amapiano and was the second of four collaborations between the two Nigerian music greats; however, other music creators, namely May D and Kiddominant, have claimed to be the pioneers of Amapiano in Nigeria, so in this story, we attempt to answer the question; ‘Who made Amapiano popular in Nigeria?’ by looking at some notable releases that influenced the rise of the sound in the country
1. Yaba Buluku Remix- DJ Tarico and Burna Boy ft Preck and Nelson Tivane
The Yaba Buluku remix by DJ Tarico and Burna Boy provides a quick geography lesson on other Swahili-speaking South African nations such as Mozambique, the DJ’s home country, and sees Nigeria and Mozambique trade cultures, sonics, and music talents.
Interestingly, Yaba Buluku, the two countries were represented not only by musicians but also by hypemen who extolled their respective cultures by calling praise names in their respective languages.
While unconfirmed, the heaviness of the bassline and synth on Yaba Buluku could also be due to sonic differences between countries. Whatever the case may be, the record, which was released on June 22nd, became an instant hit in Nigeria and other African countries.
2. Mayorkun- Of Lagos
Mayorkun’s Of Lagos may not have made it into the group chat of Amapiano records acceptable to the South African market, but it was released on April 13th with some undeniable elements of Amapiano music such as the drum pads at the beginning, and the generally relaxed tempo backed up by airy synth at the back was a novel sound to the Nigerian market blended with typical familiar elements from Street-Hop to Afrobeats. Of Lagos, produced by Fresh VDM, was an instant hit and is the first known Amapiano-infused track by a mainstream Nigerian act.
3. Sponono – Kabza De Small ft Wizkid, Burna Boy, Cassper Nyovest & Madume
Cultural crossovers have long been a feature of the African music scene, with South African, Ghanaian, and Nigerian artists frequently collaborating.
Sponono was one of these records, and it was the first true Amapiano crossover, with a South African producer and a mix of musicians from the sound’s origin country and Nigeria.
Sponono was significant to the culture because it was Wizkid and Burna Boy’s second collaboration on a song and their first on an Amapiano record. The song was a sleeper hit when it was released on June 25, 2020.
4. Monalisa – Lojay and Sarz
Monalisa by Lojay and Sarz currently has a well-received remix with American singer Chris Brown, proving the original’s success. It began as a sleeper hit before snowballing into a smash hit thanks to its heady and very warm Amapiano feel powered by a flute on Lojay and Sarz’s joint EP.
Sarz had the Amapiano instrumentals to Monalisa for several months before Lojay hopped on the track and gave it new life. Monalisa was released alongside the LV N ATTN EP on June 4, 2021.
5. Hallelu – Masterkraft, Bella Shmurda, Zlatan
Masterkraft had previously demonstrated a preference for using horns on his Amapiano tracks, and he’d blazed his way to the top of the charts with his horn-inflected Amapiano-infused street hop banger with Bella Shmurda and Zlatan. Hallelu was released on December 11, 2020, and was one of the tracks that ended a musically-rich year.
6. Addicted – Niniola
Niniola is widely regarded as the Queen of Afrohouse, so it was only natural for her to join in the Amapiano fun, which she did on the Sarz-produced Addicted, which features a good mix of her Afrohouse style, Amapiano’s percussive basslines, and compelling vocals. Addicted, released on July 17th, 2020, was a summer hit and reaffirmed Niniola’s position as an Afrohouse pioneer.
7. Squander – Falz, Niniola
The loopy horns, airy pads, rolling basslines, and synth cords are all present in Squander. Further accentuated by Falz’s flow on the beat and Niniola’s singing, the Yung Willis-produced record, which was designed for the Nigerian market with its fast pace, quickly found favor on the music scene after its release on December 4th, 2020.
8. Ameno Amapiano Remix – Goya Menor and Nektunez
Nobody expected a song to emerge from the Lagos nightlife tradition of playing Era’s Gregorian-chant-infused Ameno to celebrate bottle-buying in clubs, let alone an international smash hit, but that is exactly what happened for Goya Menor with his Ameno Amapiano Remix.
In fact, the song had become so popular that it sparked an online challenge, and it had eventually run into some copyright issues, necessitating a temporary removal.
The song, which was released in December 2021, demonstrated the driving potential and compelling power that Amapiano fused with Afrobeats possesses.
In essence, while no single artiste can claim credit for bringing Amapiano to Nigeria, it is clear that, like the proverbial success story, it took a village to inspire the localization and Nigerianisation of Amapiano, with the +234 serving as a launching pad, helping to push the Amapiano sound to the rest of the world.
9. Rema – Woman
Rema’s Woman had swept the entire scene and stood out from the jump with the snare and airy pads that intensifies in the chorus.
Following Mayorkun’s Of Lagos, this was the second successful attempt by a Nigerian musician and producer to create Amapiano-infused music.
Ozedikus produced Rema’s Woman, which was released on July 3, 2020.
10. Kilofeshe – Zinoleesky
When Zinoleesky released Kilofeshe, it lit up the streets, clubs, social media, and every other place where music is appreciated.
It had given new life to street music and was a full circle localization of the Amapiano sound, as produced by Niphkeys, in which the elements were met head-on with Fuji and Afrobeat elements to create a banger track.
Kilofeshe was released on November 27th, 2020, and was a huge end-of-year jam.
11. High Way – DJ Kaywise ft Phyno
December 2020 was heavily influenced by Amapiano bangers, including DJ Kaywise’s Phyno-featured Highway. Highway, produced by Yung Willis, used Amapiano’s dominant basslines, snares, and synth while maintaining the fast-paced nature of Nigerian street hop music to create an irresistible record that was mostly rendered in Igbo by Phyno.
12. Masterkraft ft Flavour – Equipment
This record did not become particularly popular, but it was notable for bearing some characteristics of an Amapiano record, from the airy feel and drum pads to the thrilling piano that had served as a bedrock for Flavour’s relaxed flow.
It was also a worthy case of localizing Amapiano elements, this time with Flavour’s highlife music style. Equipment, owned and produced by Masterkraft, was released on June 29th, 2020.
13. eWallet – KDDO ft Cassper Nyovest
KDDO, also known as Kiddominant, had entered the Amapiano fray, claiming that he’d started Amapiano in West Africa with his Cassper Nyovest-featured Wallet and that he’d rightfully staked his claim given that the eWallet was released on June 25th, 2020.
Aside from being an Amapiano pioneer, eWallet is an intriguing Amapiano entry because, while the producer- Kiddominant is Nigerian, the smooth Amapiano sound and Cassper Nyovest’s input give it a very South African feel.
In fact, the video was shot in South Africa, and it felt like a song from that region, despite receiving some success in West Africa through TV and radio airplay.