Tshwala Bam Frenzy: Are Afrobeats stars losing spotlight to Amapiano artists?


TikTok and Instagram are like mobile night clubs now; no thanks to TitoM&Yuppe, the South Africans behind the smash hit song “Tshwala Bam.” This Amapiano hit is just one of the many songs that had threatened the popularity of Afrobeats.

Since its official release on February 23, “Tshwala Bam,” it has evolved into an Amapiano anthem, topping charts. Holding number one spot on SA iTunes for three consecutive days, this song popularised the two-step wavy-shaky dance.

But this global acceptance of this song may not have been unrelated to the success story of South Africa at the Grammys in the last five decades. South Africa is arguably a dominant nation in world music. Add to this Tyla, the grammy-winning singer who crashed into the international music market where the likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Asake are already top stars. Her win returned media gaze upon South Africa, a nation with huge cultural vibrancy. Nigerians, in spite of the outcome of the Grammy 2024 edition, embraced Tyla.

A still from the music video for Tshwala Bam

In fact, Davido is among the leading music acts from Nigeria that had explored Amapiano in an attempt to blur the lines between Afrobeats and Amapiano. Infact, those hasty music reviewers who classified all the music from African artists as Afrobeats were in a near-shock situation when the supposed pioneers of the movement like Wizkid and Burna Boy started to reject the music frame.


Amapiano had long been an underrated genre of kwaito and house music. Anyone who was in Joburg, Pretoria and Soweto around 2016 and 2017 can attest to how many Nigerian artists contributed to house music with African flavour. The sassy Nigerian singer Nini enjoyed more playlists in South Africa than any other Nigeria at that time. Later on, the South Africans began to reclaim this music culture by promoting it intentionally across social media, lounges and clubs.


DJ Maphorisa, Kabza de Small and Vigro Deep turned Amapiano from being an intercontinental music movement into a global phenomenon with viral videos swarming the internet.

Next, Vetkuk and Mahoota with “Come Duze” originally titled “Bula Nthweo” and netizens are vibing really hard. What’s common with these South African hits is the unapologetic use of indigenous languages by the artists. And that’s the impressive mileage that African music has reached- breaking the language barrier.


It may seem like a passing video for many on social media but having Seun Kuti’s wife dancing on Instagram to Amapiano is perhaps an unintended endorsement for the music movement. Although the Afrobeats family has been united and coherence in their course of preserving this music legacy pioneered by their father, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the fact that Seun, his son and leader of the band was sitting at the background to the video is not an ignoble cultural shift in African music.


That said, artists like Asake, Kcee, Shallipopi, Mr Eazi, Pheelz have contributed their Amapiano works sometimes using slang, pidgin English, English and sexual references in their lyrics.


With social media driven vitality, Amapiano is the eclipse of the Afrobeats and mind you, the pressure is getting ‘werser.’


Written by Yinka Olatunbosun, 2018 African Recipient of NRW Kultur Secretariat Travel and Research Grant in Music.

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