Mzansi’s first amapiano awards have social media abuzz

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DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small also stand a chance to take home a lot of accolades. Photo: Supplied
DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small also stand a chance to take home a lot of accolades. Photo: Supplied


This week, the first annual SA Amapiano Awards were announced with a string of nominees. The list sparked controversy on social media with some people questioning whether the list was as accurate as it should be, as well as disputing certain inclusions such as Uncle Vinny.

City Press spoke with the awards’ head of communications, Qness Ndlovu, about the validity of this new genre of music as it was just five years ago that the country was singing the praises of gqom music which has lost some traction since.

Addressing the issues around certain acts making the cut and others not Ndlovu said: 

This year’s nominees are based on projects and contributions made between January 1 2020 and March 31 2021 and many of the names that have been raised are actually nominated but appear as featured artists.

“For example Umsebenzi Wethu is a song by Busta 929 and Mpura featuring Mr Jazziq, Zuma, Lady Du and Reece Madlisa. But the nomination goes to Busta 929 and Mpura as they are the main artists, and the others appear as featured artists.”

He said it was wrong that there was no amapiano awards show in 2017, 2018, 2019, or even last year, because that means everyone who worked hard during those years could not be awarded and that’s the exact wrong, they were now trying to fix.

READ: Of amapiano and its (dis)pleasures

“We unfortunately couldn’t consider a song from 2019 for a Song of the Year category this year. So, this means if you are an amapiano artist, moving forward you know that there is an official awards show whose intention is to celebrate your work.”

Ndlovu explained how amapiano has been around for nearly a decade. “When it started many people never thought it [amapiano] would make it this far. But it has and it’s only growing bigger and bigger.

READ: Amapiano duo accused of stealing a beat

“But you still haven’t heard of an amapiano artist getting approached by a corporate and being offered R2 million for an endorsement. Yet we’ve had that in House, we’ve had that in hip-hop and we’ve certainly had that in gqom. So, are we saying amapiano artists are undeserving of the same?”

He added:

How many people were looking at this as awards show but it’s more than that. We are revolting. We are trying to grow the culture and ultimately shift this paradigm.

“This is way bigger than a list of categories. The vision is bigger than that. This is growth for a genre that is not being given enough acknowledgement on a corporate and on an awards level.”

The awards are currently fully self-funded. They have been approached by a few potential sponsors and are identifying those with a vision that aligns with that of the awards. The artists driving this genre forward have had some mixed reactions to the awards.

Ndlovu elaborated:

It’s something new, it’s a revolution and it will spark a lot of opinions. But many people are excited to finally be getting an awards show to celebrate amapiano.

The judging was handled internally by a governing body of industry professionals and stakeholders. From next year, they will be introducing a submissions system.

The hosts for the evening have yet to be selected and will be revealed over the course of an extensive roll-out scheme to hype these awards. The plan is for the ceremony to be physical – complete with a red carpet – subject to government Covid-19 regulations.

READ: Kwaito and house still deserve their own awards show

Just a few years ago, gqom was all the rage and although it hasn’t died, the buzz has subsided.

What makes amapiano different, what makes it a stronger genre?

“Amapiano has stood the test of time even when many people thought it wouldn’t last this long. But we feel it has so much room for more growth. Even corporates need to believe more in the genre and in these young artists and involve them from a brand level like they did with hip-hop, House and gqom.

“We believe amapiano artists have been responsible for a whole culture shift and deserve more recognition and more acknowledgement on an overall industry level,” Ndlovu said.

There are 20 categories and winners of each will walk away with R10 000 while the coveted Song of the Year winner will pocket R50 000.


Phumlani S Langa 


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69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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