2022: The Year South African Music Invaded New York City
I often talk about music and DJs because they are the catalyst that make us dance. Good music not only soothes the soul, but it encourages us to dance, bringing to life the emotions or the energy of the song. Great beats are what inspire me to dance, which is why I’m a big fan of the pulsating rhythms of African Electronic Music. And what a year 2022 was for African Electronic Music. It was a year in which we saw the stratospheric rise of Amapiano music, and the continued blossoming of the Afro House music genre. In 2022 New York City finally caught up and diversified its Afro music offering.
Afrobeats/Afropop music from Nigeria has long been the dominant Afro sound in New York City. One can argue this is the results of the large Nigerian American population in the area, and the radio friendly quality of Nigerian Afrobeats. The cross over of Afrobeats to American radio also helped to propel the genre. There were several Afrobeats songs that were ubiquitous in 2022: Peru — Fireboy DML, Love Nwanttiti —CKay, Essence —Wiz Kid + Tems, and Last Last by Burna Boy. And while Afrobeats dominated the Afro parties in NYC, there was one noticeable shift that happened in 2022 —the arrival of South African sounds. No doubt South African music was always part of the Afro music offering of the city; Gqom was a staple sound played at Afro parties. But South African music was always a sprinkle, a tease, mixed throughout Nigerian dominated songs. In 2022 that changed. South African genres were able to stand on their own as singular sound offerings at parties. Amapiano quickly dominated, becoming a headlining descriptor for parties in the city. By summer 2022, headlines of “amapiano nights” “afrobeats and amapiano boat ride” became common. And by end of summer we noticed Amapiano as a sole descriptor for parties.
Further propelling Amapiano in New York city were the big name South African Djs who visited in 2022. DJs like Major League Djs and Uncle Waffles played NYC for the first time in 2022 and delivered standout sets. Major League Djs had 3 different NYC shows throughout Summer 2022. And Uncle Waffles on December 3rd made her NYC Debut playing alongside an all female cast of NYC djs (AQ Global, Wemi, Vonnie Mack) spinning only Amapiano.
But Amapiano didn’t just arrive randomly as a new sound in NYC. It was Nigerian musicians who started using the Amapiano sound in their music that helped to familiarize people with the sound. Viral Amapiano dance videos on IG and Tiktok also contributed to the popularity of the sound in NYC. “Champion Sound” by Davido and Focalistic, was one of the early Amapiano hits that brought together Nigeria and South Africa. It was a hit song that was tirelessly played in NYC Afro parties.
2022 also saw South African Afrohouse establish itself as a headlining sound in NYC. Afrohouse occupies the other spectrum of Modern African music. It is electronic dance music made from an African perspective. And it was rarely played in NYC Afro parties. That changed in 2022, a year in which South African Afrohouse djs headlined numerous parties. We saw the likes of Morda, Caiiro, Shimza and Black Coffee all playing NYC gigs. Descendants records also kicked off their monthly Afrohouse party in June 2022, making the sound a staple offering in NYC.
Let’s take a look back at some of the events that helped shaped the presence of South African sounds in NYC:
Shimza from South Africa, had his NYC debut on October 14th, 2022.
Talk about stars aligning. On the same weekend Shimza (South Africa) debuted, Black Coffee had 3 consecutive shows in Avant Gardner in Brooklyn, NY: October, 14th, 15th and 16th.
Uncle Waffles delivered the bass of Amapiano on December 3rd, 2022 at Deluxxe Fluxx in Manhattan, NYC.
Caiiro, closed out Descendants 2022 year with an epic set.