Amapiano continued to prove its resilience in 2021, attracting rappers like Young Stunna and Cassper Nyovest and expanding beyond its origins in the taxi ranks and shebeens of Pretoria and Johannesburg. The genre’s dominance spanned South Africa and the entire continent, providing the soundtrack of the year.
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According to Spotify’s year-end chart, amapiano musicians took the top five spots on the list of most-streamed local artists in South Africa, with OG DJ Maphorisa at the top and Scorpion King Kabza De Small following close behind. Newcomers Busta 929, De Mthuda and Mr JazziQ also secured their own places on the list.
While global superstars like Drake and Justin Bieber topped the Apple Music charts overall, South African artists accounted for nearly half of the year’s top 100 songs, largely thanks to Amapiano.
Best Amapiano Songs of 2021
That’s why we present our list of the best Amapiano songs for 2021, listed in no particular order:
- “Adiwele” by Young Stunna
The young stunna pays homage to his mentor Kabza De Small in “Adiwele”. The track comes from Stunna’s debut album “Notumato” and has helped him become a viral sensation. Kabza De Small played a crucial role in Stunna’s career and guided him through the music industry.
- “Umsebenzi Wethu” by Busta 929 and Mpura
Busta 929 and Mpura’s Amapiano hit “Umsebenzi Wethu” ranked No. 2 globally on Deezer’s year-end chart and topped Apple Music’s 2021 most-streamed songs list in South Africa. Mpura’s tragic death in a car accident in August raised questions about Busta 929’s involvement with underage girls who allegedly recorded music in his studio without parental consent.
- “Abalele” by Kabza De Small & DJ Maphorisa ft. Ami Faku
“Abalele”, accompanied by Ami Faku’s pleading voice, is a track by Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa. It was released in September and made it to the 4th most streamed Spotify song in South Africa in 2021.
- “LiYoshona” by Kwiish SA featuring Njelic, MalumNator and De Mthuda
DJ and producer Kwiish SA’s latest track “LiYoshona” featuring De Mthuda and Njelic is from his latest album Umshiso. The song became the most Shazamed number one song of the year in South Africa after Kwiish SA’s hit “Iskathi (Gong Gong)” was one of the biggest house tracks of 2018.
- “Woza” by Mr JazziQ x Kabza De Small x Lady Du ft. Boohle
Mr. JazziQ, along with Kabza De Small, Lady Du and Boohle, created a huge hit single, “Woza,” from his album “Party with the English.” In early 2021, Mr JazziQ was named the most streamed South African artist by Generation Z audiences on Spotify SA. The track even inspired a dance challenge, with a video of three men dancing to the song in front of the White House in Washington DC.
- “Khuza Gogo” by DBN Gogo x Blaqnick x MasterBlaq featuring Mpura, Ama Avenger and MJ
Mpura’s vocal contributions to “Khuza Gogo” with Ama Avenger and MJ, as well as the beats of DBN Gogo, Blaqnick and MasterBlaq were just some of the tracks he gifted to the world before his tragic death in August. Since its release in March, the YouTube video has racked up almost 4 million views and Spotify SA said it was the most-streamed South African track among Gen Z.
- John Wick by De Mthuda with Sir Trill and Da Muziqal Chef
De Mthuda’s hit single “John Wick” featuring Sir Trill and Da Muziqal Chef is one of his surefire blockbusters. The title reflects the confidence shown by Keanu Reeves’ character in the John Wick film series. De Mthuda also collaborated with Sir Trill on another hit single, “Emlanjeni”.
- “Siyathandana” by Cassper Nyovest with Boohle and Abidoza
Alongside Boohle and Abidoza, rapper Cassper Nyovest also ventured into Amapiano territory with “Siyathandana” from his Amapiano project Sweet & Short 2.0. He performed the track, which features the melody of mid-2000s Bob Sinclair’s “World Hold On” (Axwell mix), during the Amapiano show at the Boiler Room in London in September. And he, as he told OkayAfrica, there’s more to come!
- DJ Maphorisa & Tyler ICU, ft Madumane, Mpura, Daliwonga & Visca “Izolo”
DJ Maphorisa is the only local musician to make it to Spotify’s top 10 most streamed artists list, ranking eighth alongside artists such as Drake, The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran. Given his performance last year, that’s no surprise. Whether he released his latest collaboration with Kabza De Small, Rumble in the Jungle, or an EP with Tyler ICU, Banyana, Maphorisa has made his mark on 2021. But he wasn’t content with just producing, as seen in the anthemic number “Izolo,” which featured his singing alter ego Madumane.
- DJ Sumbody with Drip Gogo, The Lowkeys “Iyamemeza”
DJ Sumbody has had another great year following his 2020 album Ashi Nthwela. This time he called on Drip Gogo and The Lowkeys for the anthem “Iyamemeza.” Sumbody showed he has a good nose for new talent, with Drip Gogo and The Lowkeys being relatively unknown before this track. But with the popularity of “Iyamemeza” they are now making a name for themselves in the Amapiano scene.