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South African artist Focalistic is featured on The Dotty Show on Apple Music 1 as he chats about the origins of Amapiano music in SA, the rise of the genre across the continent, the global awareness of South African music, and working with Davido and Diamond Platnumz.

On the origins of Amapiano…

In South Africa, we used to have this genre called Kwaito, which was rough and more gangster. And Amapiano took Kwaito and mixed it with house music, which can be sweet, melodic. And there's also Bacardi, which is a genre from Pretoria, which is a smaller genre but it’s about rough drum patterns, making sure people dance. And I think Amapiano is a nice blend of all of that. It's become different things now, it can be sweet on its own, it can be gangster, it can still be rough and still have the heavy patterns. But, all in all, it just sounds like the streets of South Africa, if I’m being honest with you. It's a sound that sounds like the streets of South Africa.

On the Amapiano sound spreading across the continent...

There are different variants at this moment. I think it's because it's travelled so fast. Thanks to Apple Music, to the internet. A lot of people caught the vibes and I'm embracing them. For me, it's always about collaboration over competition. If we want Amapiano to be the big genre that it is, one day Amapiano has to win a Grammy. So it's a sound that started in South Africa and now it's being embraced worldwide, it's being embraced in the continent. And that's why we are able to travel, see different countries and collaborate with different African artists. And I think that it's a good thing for Amapiano. People have their own different variants of it. And it's just growing from a small thing to it being made in Ghana. I've heard that in Nigeria, five of the Top 10 songs are Amapiano on the Apple Music chart. So the movement is moving.

On the attention currently on South African music...

We definitely can feel the global attention. There's a lot of other artists, there's JazziQ, as well. He had his song go viral from a moment in Washington, I think it was in front of the White House. So people are dancing to Amapiano there. So, there's a lot of excitement, we're now making music with a global ear, understanding that it's this close, the Grammys this close. And, at the same time, it's also about the movement. As I'm saying, I just dropped the song with JazziQ, as well, called ‘Gupta’. So it's about pushing the movement, making sure that we move as a unit and the moment is shared, because Amapiano is a spirit. As I said, it sounds like walking through the streets of South Africa, it's a spirit, it's about helping each other out as brothers. That's why there's so many features, collaborations. There's no Amapiano song that you know with one person. So we definitely feel the spirit and we're all definitely excited about it.

On working with Davido...

It's a crazy vibe. I think Davido is one of those people that is always just happy. Ten years in the game, he's still trying to understand “what's your story?”, “what do you do it for, and what's this sound?”. So what happened with [their track] ‘Ke Star’ is I had met him two years before, in a club in Pretoria, which is my hometown. So he was in South Africa and they were playing another song of mine that I had at the time. And he asked the owner "Who's on this song?" And they said, “It's that kid”. And then they call me. So I didn't believe that he's calling me. So he came and he's like, "yo, this song is really dope. And one day hopefully we can work. I hear your sound. I like your sound.” I was like, "Oh, okay. Cool." Fast forward, two years later, ‘Ke Star’ went Number 1 on the Nigerian Apple Music chart. So we had to go there to perform and we performed on his show. And, after that, as you were just speaking, the remix became just a genuine vibe. It happened on its own and I'm so glad about that. We went back to shoot the music video in Nigeria and understanding how Amapiano was going global, seeing people dance to it, seeing people make their different variants. It's been amazing. For me, it's just been an amazing eye opening experience.

On working with Diamond Platnumz...

I just did a song with Diamond Platnumz. This is going to be a dope one. Big, big, big too. For me, I'm open to many collaborations. I just enjoy the genuine ones, as well, because even with Diamond Platnumz, when we were in Tanzania, he came to the show that I was on and he hopped on just after me. So, when I felt the energy there, there was pandemonium, people seeing him on stage. I understood that I needed a song with this guy because, at the end of the day, that energy is the energy we get in South Africa and he gets it in Tanzania. So imagine it and put it together and we put together those fan bases. You get magic.

Quotes credit: The Dotty Show on Apple Music 1


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