South Africa’s newest dance music genre is exporting its feel-good beats across the continent.

Amapiano is a new electronic music genre coming straight out of the townships of Pretoria.

It mixes Deep House with keyboard melodies and borrows music that’s been popular in South African townships for decades.

Listen closely and you’ll hear Kwaito bass lines, a bit of jazz and low tempo 90s South African house rhythms. Oh, and a smattering of menacing, fast-pace Gqom beats too, courtesy of the good DJs of Durban.

In the early days, you’d only hear Amapiano at Gauteng township house parties or on DJ mixes shared via WhatsApp. Then YFM radio DJ, Da Kruk, created ‘Amapiano Hour’ and the genre took off.

Now you’ll hear Amapiano booming from cars and portable speakers, sound rigs and shopping mall PA systems throughout southern Africa.

Including Mozambique. The National N4 highway runs directly from Pretoria to Maputo, so it’s no surprise that the Mozambican capital has one of the most exciting Amapiano scenes outside of South Africa.

In fact, the biggest Amapiano song of 2021 (so far) comes from Maputo – ‘Yaba Buluku’ by DJ Tarico, featuring fellow Maputans, Preck and Tivane Nelson.

‘Yaba Buluku’ is essentially Mozambique’s response to Mapara A Jazz’s ‘John Vuli Gate’, a banger out of Pretoria that dominated the end of 2020.

It features a chant-heavy hook, suggestive lyrics (mostly in Xitsonga, a local Mozambique language) and dance moves ready-made for Tik-Tok dance challenges.

The video was shot of the dusty streets of a township on the outskirts of Maputo. It’s music designed to make you dance and director CR Boy captures that perfectly.

Everyday worries are cast aside. Alcohol is consumed. And each well-executed dance move greeted with a hearty ‘Yebo!’.

That’s the Xitsonga equivalent of ‘Hell, yeah!’.

“When an Amapiano song comes on, it’s a feel-good frequency. You associate it with nice times, a nice lifestyle. It makes you forget your pain.”

Thabang Moloto, producer of the Amapiano documentary Shaya!

Main image: Preck in the ‘Yaba Buluku’ video (CR Boy/YouTube)