Last week, Jorja Smith sparked some controversy when she released an amapiano single titled “All Of This,” produced by Ghana’s GuiltyBeatz. She described the single on her Instagram as an effort to “bring Piano to the world.”
According to Jorja, “I met (Guilty) when I went over to Port Antonio in Jamaica for a writing camp in 2019. He’s so wonderful to work with and when we initially started the song, it was more a fall to the floor type beat. He’s shared amapiano playlists with me before and then during the first lockdown in 2020, he sent me a version of the song like it is now. We then finished writing the song remotely, exchanging messages over WhatsApp with his girlfriend Abby who is also a writer. It’s all about someone who doesn’t deserve you and thinking wow, you really had all of me once, ew.”
The release of the song sparked social media outrage, with artists like Cassper Nyovest, DJ Maphorisa, and more coming forward to criticise Smith’s sampling of the genre without paying homage to its origin by virtue of the fact that the song features no actual South African and isn’t made by a South African producer. To South Africans, it feels like Jorja Smith is just another global artist banking on the country’s indigenous sound without giving real credit to its originators.
“If you don’t involve us, it’s not amapiano. Then trust me you can’t eat alone on amapiano, it’s a community movement but we don’t mind sharing though,” said DJ Maphorisa.
The argument is that, without the inclusion of a South African artist on the song, the genre is simply being exported without the creators, taking away the originality that the genre is founded on and instead in its place is a mixed up pop-version. And this in no way benefits the artists who’ve worked hard releasing hits tirelessly to get the sound this far.
The globalisation of indigenous sounds from regions like Africa is a tried and tested tactic in the music industry, many times, artists have attempted to reinvent their sound or expand their audience by collaborating with other artists at the forefront of sounds on the rise. Drake’s collaboration with Wizkid on “One Dance” aptly describes this phenomenon, where Drake’s rap-pop appeal highlighted afrobeats to a much wider audience following its release and chart performance.
In scenarios where foreign artists were involved in crossovers with amapiano artists, the songs were well received by South Africans and touted by the amapiano community, giving them necessary validity. Examples include Focalistic’s “Ke Star (Remix)” with Davido & Vigro Deep and DJ Tarico’s “Ya Ba Buluku (Remix” with Burna Boy. The least that South Africans ask for is that as global stars aim to take Amapiano to the world, its creators are not left behind.
Africa finds itself in the global limelight more often these days, contributing a plethora of sounds to the music space, with artists all over the continent each putting forward their unique styles infused with indigenous sounds from their countries. One of the most recent from this ever growing collection of euphonic greatness emerging from Africa is amapiano.
The South African mix of house, jazz, synths, air pads all intertwined with dance-centric themes and melodies is known for its fanciful (often minutes-long piano solos), and its propensity to get just about anyone moving. It’s South Africa’s most popular genre right now, since its steady incline from 2017 till now, the genre’s popularity has moved across borders, and sailed overseas.2020 was a huge year for the genre with major hits from artists such as Kabza De Small, Focalistic, Vigro Deep, Major League DJz, DJ Maphorisa and rappers like Cassper Nyovest and Focalistic tapping into the sound recently with hits of their own. The sound has only grown bigger in its global appeal this year, becoming arguably one of the year’s biggest trends, courting global artists in the search for something fresh and eccentric. – okayafrica.com