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Amapiano is Soon Blowing Up Internationally

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Amapiano is taking over international dance floors.

According to notable South African musicians and DJs, amapiano, a bright, jazzy dance music derived from local house influences and global R&B, has remained the country’s top genre even during the pandemic.

At Afropunk’s 2019 New Year’s Eve party in South Africa, DJ Moma was scheduled to deliver a 45-minute set following headliner Solange Knowles. He was fully aware of the situation. The DJ, who was born in Sudan and bred in Paris and Queens, has returned to South Africa on several occasions to immerse himself in the country’s music culture. Around 20,000 people gathered on Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill, which originally housed Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s prison camp. “I started playing trap. It was a huge success with them. “I went into some Afrobeats, and they loved it,” Moma says. “Then I just said, ‘Are my yanos in the building?'” she explains.

Moma played Semi Tee of Soweto’s “Labantwana Ama Uber,” a success in the booming amapiano style of South African club music. “Yanos” is slang for the folks who create and consume it, which seemed to be everyone that night. Moma stood there watching as a sea of admirers began to dance, tossing limp fists in the air and gyrating like a pouncing cat. He says, “I’ve never felt anything like it.” “It was incredible.”

According to notable South African musicians and DJs, amapiano, a bright, jazzy dance music derived from local house influences and global R&B, has remained the country’s top genre even during the pandemic. Busiswa, a South African house artist who has performed with Beyoncé and whose catalog includes the subgenres gqom, kwaito, and, most recently, amapiano, says, “I believe it’s the first time a genre of ours dominates our own airplay more than overseas songs.” While amapiano is popular in South Africa, it has also spread elsewhere. The #amapiano hashtag has received over 570 million views on TikTok. The AmaPianoGrooves playlist on Spotify has seen a 116 percent rise in global streaming over the last year, including a 75 percent increase in the United States.

Vic Mensa is set to star in a film based on ProKid, a South African rapper

Though West African Afrobeats has reigned musically in South Africa for years, as it has in the rest of the African diaspora, the country also has a long history of house music, which other African artists, including Afrobeats giants, are now delving into.

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DJ Moma explains that South Africa’s particular house music is derived from New York’s soulful house movement. “It’s almost heresy to say, but they basically took all the qualities of New York house music — jazzy chord progressions, Afro drumming, soulful vocals — and improved it. Especially the drum programming, which has an African feel to it.” Kwaito arose in the mid-1990s, a subgenre born as the country celebrated the end of apartheid. It’s a 105-bpm mash-up of African melodies, hip-hop, reggae, and American house.

While clearly happy folk music such as Congolese soukous and Côte d’Ivoire’s coupé-décalé grew in popularity in the north and northwest, South African house remained conservative. “The melancholy was the one element that made [South African house] uniquely South African,” Moma explains. “These are people who have gone through things that no one else can comprehend.”

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CULTURE

Top 20 Best African Songs 2021

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The year 2021 has been a fantastic one for African musicians and the music business in general. This is the year that Wizkid’s Essence charted in the top 50 of Billboard’s top 100 and also featured on Obama’s 2021 Playlist. Ruger, a Nigerian breakout musician, got the globe bouncing with his song “Bounce,” which became a global hit, and if you’re in Nairobi, or really anywhere in Africa, you’ve probably heard Tanzania’s Zuchu’s song “Sukari,” which has over 59 million views on YouTube as of this writing, making it one of the year’s most popular videos. As the year draws to a close, these are the finest African songs of 2021. (more…)

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Netflix and UNESCO Are Looking For The Next Generation of African Filmmakers  

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Netflix and UNESCO have teamed up to establish an innovative short film competition in Sub-Saharan Africa called “African Folktales, Reimagined.” The competition’s winners will receive industry training and mentoring, as well as a US$75,000 production budget, to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as a “Anthology of African Folktales.”

One of the competition’s main goals is to find fresh perspectives and provide young filmmakers from Sub-Saharan Africa global exposure. We want to identify the most daring, witty, and surprising retellings of some of Africa’s most beloved folktales and share them with entertainment enthusiasts in over 190 countries across the world.

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It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard, by supporting the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, putting forth new ideas and emotions, and creating opportunities for creators to contribute to global dialogue for peace, culture and development.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

The tournament, which will be run by Dalberg, will run from October 14th until November 14th, 2021. Each of the six winners will get a US$75,000 production grant (via a local production firm) to create, shoot, and post-produce their films with the help of Netflix and industry mentors, ensuring that everyone engaged in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the six winners will get a cash prize of $25,000 apiece.

APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN: ANIMATION TRAINING FOR EAST AFRICAN WOMEN

Both UNESCO and Netflix agree on the importance of promoting and sharing varied local stories with the rest of the globe. They recognize that many aspiring filmmakers struggle to get the resources and exposure they need to fully realize their potential and advance their creative careers. This competition aims to address these difficulties and provide a platform for African storytellers to showcase their work to a worldwide audience.

This alliance will also assist to create long-term jobs and stimulate economic growth, contributing to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a set of goals aimed at ending global poverty in all of its forms by the end of this decade. This film festival will also contribute to the reduction of disparities by allowing access to global markets and ensuring decent working conditions. All of these are important targets for the 2030 Agenda.

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Afrotape to Focus on it’s Community

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Today marks 3 years since Afrotape was formed. What began as a platform for artists’ services has evolved into a youth brand that will be the leading voice on African culture. It’s been a fascinating and challenging journey, full of invaluable experiences and life lessons that have shaped us into the people we are today. (more…)

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