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Amanyea serving Amapiano and dancehall fusion

Singer takes on popular South African genre

Published:Thursday | June 1, 2023 | 12:57 AMAaliyah Cunningham/Gleaner Writer
Amanyea is hoping to release her first full Amapiano project some time this year
Amanyea is hoping to release her first full Amapiano project some time this year
Artiste and choreographer Amanyea is mixing dancehall with Amapiano.
Artiste and choreographer Amanyea is mixing dancehall with Amapiano.

As artistes all over the world strive to reinvent themselves, dancer-turned-recording artiste Amanyea is taking on new horizons in music as she stands as one of the first Jamaican performers to dive into the realms of the musical genre Amapiano that has been emerging from the underground South African music scene.

Formerly known to wow audiences with her mesmerising choreography, the eccentric singer is now hoping to make waves with this genre that she truly fell in love with during the pandemic. Much like the rest of the world, the majority of the exposure to the percussion-based rhythm came from its explosion on the TikTok platform. While she has always been familiar with South African music through her mom who is also a choreographer, she has been investing much of her time into carving out a way to bring dancehall to the Amapiano space.

“I grew up listening to South African music. Really, I grew up listening to all sorts of music because of my mom, who is a choreographer. I fell in love with Miriam Makeba and Angelique Kidjo and other African artistes, and I fell in love with the music especially dancing to it. Amapiano has been around for 13 years, and I never knew that, and a lot of people didn’t know that. It is kind of like an underground South African house or lounge music mixed with the percussive elements of South African music and it just became this whole thing in the pandemic,” she explained.

According to Amanyea, once she heard the sound she immediately thought of its versatility.

“I fell in love and I started working on it with a producer named Yo Christon and we started to work on tracks and found myself in the journey because I realised that I can do all sorts of things with it and it fits. Of course, I am Jamaican so I can’t leave [that] out. So, I found out how to fit dancehall on the genre. I am excited about that because I feel like it can be refreshing to the space, and I am happy to put myself in the Amapiano space and still be rooted as a Jamaican artiste,” she shared.

So far, she has released a few Amapiano tracks that have been doing very well on the local and international scene, including songs such as Bad Gal Szn and Here I Am, which she says have been getting good reviews so far.

“The reception to the new music has been amazing. It is very surprising that people have so much to say and they are also falling in love with the genre. Lots of people come up to me and they are like ‘wow, I didn’t even know this could happen’ your music sounds fresh, it sounds extremely international. They don’t know what Amapiano is, but they know it is different, so I have been getting a lot of great reception for it and it has been scary, but I am excited,” Amanyea told The Gleaner.

As she continues to hone her talents in the genre, she now has the opportunity to take the Amapiano and dancehall fusion sound outside of the island as she prepares for her tour as she is billed to perform at Sun Splash Caribbean and Sun Splash Amsterdam.

“I am looking forward to getting to go on a plane to go somewhere else to perform my own music for a different country that speaks a different language, has a different culture. It is just mind-blowing for me. I just want to bring to bring a taste of Jamaica to them and I hope they can see that Jamaicans can do this too and acknowledge our versatility,” she expressed.

Amanyea is also hoping to reach a wider audience while opening up space to have other dancehall artistes embark on the exploration of different kinds of music.

“We are already fusing our sound with Afrobeats with people like Burna Boy dropping our artistes on his stuff. So this is another opportunity for us to branch off and be great in another space as Jamaican do all the time,” she reasoned.

She is hoping to release her first full Amapiano project some time this year and is currently working on ensuring that she not only gets the sound right but the moves to go along with it.

“It was interesting but a lot of times what I do with my music to write is to think about it as a dance. I started out as a choreographer, so I hear music as dance. Even when I write my lyrics, the way I write a verse, I think of dance in mind and Amapiano feels like dance explosion. You can’t stop moving,” Amanyea said.

“Right now, my team and I are going with the flow but hopefully we can do an Amapiano, dancehall fused project coming up soon. If not, we just dropping singles and showcasing me. I am still new to the space, so it is just for people to understand me and get to know me, that really is the plan just to have fun with [it],” she continued.

Amapiano is a South African style of electronic dance music that first appeared in 2016. A subgenre of house and Kwaito. The sound is distinguished by its use of smooth jazz elements and piano melodies, Kwaito baselines, low tempo ‘90s South African house rhythms and percussion from another local house subgenre known as ‘Bacardi’.