As Amapiano has taken both South Africa and the world by storm, one unique trend that has emerged has been how the genre has given a voice to young, women musicians.
Spotify, which has been a champion of the genre since its birth, has given the women of Amapiano a place to showcase their talents, break barriers and defy stereotypes.
Spotify data highlights four ways that streaming is helping to elevate the voices of women in the genre.
1. Women are increasingly taking up space in Amapiano music
Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s Head of Music in Sub-Saharan Africa says “At Spotify, we have been championing Amapiano since we first started to see this exciting new genre take shape and one of the things we are most excited about is how women are coming up in the genre. From singers and songwriters, to DJs and producers, we are really seeing how this genre and its fans have embraced this female talent.”
Some of the top streamed women Amapiano artists over the past 90 days include Boohle, Babalwa M, Kamo Mphela, Sha Sha, Msaki and Lady Du.
Spotify has also been championing Amapiano artists through programmes like EQUAL, Fresh Finds and RADAR and its highly popular Amapiano Grooves playlist.
“DBN Gogo was our very first South African EQUAL Ambassador in 2021, while rising star Tyla was our most recent. Amapiano music has over 2 billion streams on our platform, and our Amapiano Grooves playlist, which accounts for over a billion of these, features a strong mix of some of the most talented women in the genre right now,” Okumu says.
Speaking while giving an Amapiano dance session as part of Spotify’s Amapiano Tourism experience, Kamo Mphela, who is as well known for her moves as her music says “I didn’t choose Amapiano, Amapiano chose me” and adds “music doesn’t move without dance”.
But, she says there is room for Amapiano to become more aggressive.“If we’re going to be aggressive with our sounds, we can reach greater heights,” the Nkulunkulu hitmaker said.
2. Collabs are driving music discovery, and not just for Amapiano artists:
Collabs between Amapiano artists and women artists whose music is not typically part of the genre, are further driving music discovery. Artists like Ami Faku, who calls her genre of music “Modern Afro Soul”, Msaki who is most known for her folk sound, and even Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage, all feature in the most streamed Amapiano tracks featuring a female artist, because of collabs that they have done with artists like DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small.
In fact, all of the top 5 Amapiano tracks by or featuring female artists are collabs, with Faku’s collab with Aymos, Fatela
The second most streamed track is Deep London’s collab with Boohle on Hamba Wena, while the number three spot is occupied by Sukakude, by Kelvin Momo, Babalwa M and Sfarzo Rtee.
DBN Gogo’s track Love and Loyalty (Believe), which features two other leading female artists Busisiwa and Kamo Mphela, alongside Young Stunna and Sino Msolo takes the number four spot.
3. Amapiano women are going global
Spotify data shows that about 43% of all Amapiano music is being listened to outside of South Africa- showcasing its massive international appeal.
Collabs are not just driving genre- bending, they’re also driving exports of women artists’ music. Love and Loyalty (Believe) which features on the Wakanda Forever soundtrack is the second most exported track, while Abalele and Mina Nawe, Mashudu’s collab with Soa Mattrix rank in the top 10. Uncle Waffles’ Tanzania featuring Tony Duardo, Sino Msolo and BoiBizza is also one of the most exported tracks.
Eleven percent of Amapiano music currently is not being made in South Africa or is being made by artists not hailing from South Africa (Nigerian artist Asake, for instance, is skillfully combining two of the continent’s biggest genres, Amapiano and Afrobeats).
4. Gen Z is the core audience for Amapiano, but one female artist is bucking this trend.
It’s no surprise that female Amapiano artists are speaking directly to Gen Z. Spotify data shows that the top female Amapiano artists like Boohle, Babalwa M and Msaki are all most popular among 18-24 year old audiences with the number of streams dropping off in older audience brackets. One artist who appears to have bucked this trend is Makhadzi, whose streams in the 35-44 year age bracket are only about 2 percent lower than in the 18-24 year old audience.
When it comes to where people are listening, Makhadzi is the most streamed female artist in Pretoria and Johannesburg, where Amapiano has its roots. She is followed by Babalwa M and Msaki in second and third place. In Cape Town, Msaki has been the most streamed female Amapiano artist over the past 90 days and Boohle is the most streamed female Amapiano artist in Lagos and in Nairobi.